The Big Train begin their Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League title defense on Tuesday night, facing off against the Silver Spring-Takoma Thunderbolts in Game 1 of the Semi-Finals, the first of two best-of-three series, at Povich Field.
The Big Train continued their winning tradition in the 2017 regular season. By going 31-9 (.775 winning percentage), Bethesda won the South division for the third straight year and posted the best record in the CRCBL for the sixth time in the last nine years. They also matched their second-highest win total, eclipsed only by a 33-win season in 2011, when they were crowned National Champions.
“This team has done really well,” assistant coach Eric Williams said. “31-9 is respectable no matter where you go, so it’s a great job.”
Bethesda had several standouts on the 2017 team who featured prominently among the CRCBL stat leaders. Right fielder James Outman (Sacramento State) had one of the best offensive seasons in the League, narrowly missing the Triple Crown. He finished first in home runs (9), tied for first in RBI (36) and fifth in batting average (.341). Center fielder Zach Jancarski (Maryland) finished fourth in batting average (.347), while designated hitter Kevin Milam (St. Mary’s) finished sixth (.340). Lineup mainstay Logan Driscoll (George Mason) also had an outstanding season, hitting to a .323 average with seven home runs, good for second in the League, and 34 RBI, fifth in the League.
On the mound, Ty Madrigal (St. Mary’s) was the Big Train’s best starter, pitching to a League-leading 0.55 ERA in 32.2 innings pitched. He also picked up five wins, second-most in the League. Joe Nahas (Maryland-Baltimore) and Stephen Schoch (Maryland-Baltimore) were outstanding in relief, striking out 35 batters in 22.2 innings pitched and 33 in 26.1, respectively. The latter also pitched to an unbelievable 0.00 ERA.
“This team looks pretty hot right now,” Jordan Sergent (High Point) said. We’re swinging the bats well, we’re throwing the ball well, so we’re doing everything well together.”
The Big Train will look to channel their excellence on the mound and at the plate in the CRCBL playoffs. After winning Monday’s elimination game against the Alexandria Aces in dramatic fashion, the Silver Spring-Takoma Thunderbolts will be the Big Train’s first opponent.
The Big Train has reason to feel confident heading into this three-game series, having swept the four regular-season matchups against the T-Bolts. Though the Big Train won comfortably on June 9th and 20th by scores of 5-2 and 8-2, respectively, the T-Bolts gave them a little more trouble in the last two games. The Big Train earned close victories on June 30 (4-3) and July 20 (7-6).
“These guys put themselves in a situation to play at home and play the lower seed,” manager Sal Colangelo said. “I like their chances in a two-out-of-three series, with our pitching and hitting.”
“We’re looking forward to playing like we did all year,” Mike Emodi (Creighton) said. “If we play our best baseball and be ourselves, we’re going to be just fine.”
The first pitch at Povich Field is at 7 pm. Come out and support the Big Train in the important first game of this three-game Semi-Final series! The game will be live-Tweeted (@gobigtrain) and broadcast by Max Wolpoff and PJ Glasser (mixlr.com/big-train).
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