Down 7-0 after one inning of play, the Bethesda Big Train appeared dead on arrival in their regular season finale against the FCA Herndon Braves Friday night.
“I came into the dugout and I said, ‘Boys we’ve got some ground to cover,” second baseman Tanner Allen (Mississippi State) said.
Following a scoreless bottom of the first, the Big Train piled on 12 unanswered runs to extend their win streak to eight entering the Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League playoffs and close out the Braves 12-7.
“I don’t think all season we’ve ever just sat down and quit,” reliever Jack Alkire said. “I guess the biggest thing is just getting a couple each inning just like we did.”
The rally was kick-started in the second inning with a Jordan Sergent (High Point) two-run home run. Garrett Kueber (Austin Peay) added a two-run single later in the inning, cutting the Braves lead to three.
In the bottom of the third, Sergent scored on a wild-pitch, while Jacob Koos (Stetson) singled in a run. Michael Emodi (Creighton) completed the comeback with a sac-fly, scoring Kirk Sidwell (Stetson) and tying the game at seven.
With the game all-square, Tanner Allen came to the plate with two-outs and runners on first and second. The rising-freshman then belted the second pitch of the at-bat for an RBI single, sending Sidwell home and putting the Big Train ahead for good.
“The ball looks big coming in right now,” Allen said. “But you know every day just got to do the same routine…Just 'cause I had a little success doesn’t mean I stop working hard. Swing the bat everyday, try to perfect my swing and help the team win – that's all I want to do.”
After Zach Jancarski (Maryland) walked following the Allen single, Kueber blasted a bases clearing double, giving him five RBIs on the night and adding some major insurance runs for the Big Train.
“It’s just staying with it,” Kueber said of his approach at the plate. “You trust what you do and eventually they’ll fall.”
Alkire was the bright spot for a busy Bethesda pitching staff that used a total of six pitchers Friday. Alkire went 3.1 innings giving up four hits and no runs along with three strike outs.
“Oh it feels awesome, especially going into the playoffs,” Alkire said. “I definitely feel good. You know, went out there commanding the zone; it’s definitely a big deal.”
With the win the Big Train finish the season at 31-9, and currently rank fifth in Collegiatesummerbaseball.com’s Top 30 Summer League Teams rankings.
Bethesda’s first playoff series will begin Monday at Shirley Povich Field against the Gaithersburg Giants, Silver Spring-Takoma Thunderbolts, or Baltimore Dodgers pending Sunday’s play-in games.
“Just good to get a couple days off and then we’ll play whoever we play,” Kueber said. “It doesn’t really matter.”
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