Jacob Southern sends a ball foul, breaking his bat and sending half down the third-base line in the process.
It was the Big Train’s ability to get on base, by whatever means possible, that gave them the upper hand early in their 8-4 win over the Silver Spring-Takoma Park Thunderbolts (6-11).
“They grinded it out,” said Big Train assistant coach Galvin Morris. “It was a good team win. We play every single day and we need everybody to contribute any way they can.”
Bethesda (14-2) took the lead in the bottom of the first, with leadoff hitter A.J. Lee (Maryland) working a four-pitch walk. After making it to third on another walk and a fielder’s choice, a sacrifice fly from Carson Taylor (VA Tech) scored Lee and put the Big Train ahead by a run.
Then, with two outs and bases loaded from a walk and a hit-by-pitch in the second, right-fielder Alec Burleson (East Carolina) stepped to the plate, sending a double off the center field wall, clearing the bases, and putting Bethesda up 4-0.
Silver Spring-Takoma Park responded in the top of the third, putting up one run after a walk advanced to second on a balk, then made it home on a double from first baseman Tucker Childers. The one run was all from the Thunderbolts in the inning, cutting the Big Train’s lead to two runs.
In the sixth, after the Thunderbolts put up two runs early in the inning, a close-to-perfect throw from catcher Jacob Southern (Jacksonville) picked off Rosier at second, providing the first out of the inning with the T-Bolts trailing 4-3. While the pick-off provided an out, a ground-out drove in a run two batters later, tying the game at four runs apiece.
“We give [Southern] the name ‘The Dirt Ball,’ because he’s probably the dirtiest guy on the team after the game,” said Morris.
A huge moment came for the Big Train in the bottom of the inning, as left-fielder Andrew Shebloski (St. Mary’s CA) blasted a solo home run over the left field fence, putting Bethesda up 5-4 with one out. Then, Alec Burleson came in clutch again, knocking another run in on another double, this time off the scoreboard in left-center field.
The clutch hitting continued in the bottom of the seventh, when Jacob Southern doubled in Udie Summerall (Florida Atlantic) who scored from second after a double of his own. Then, another double—this time from Jacob Westerman (San Francisco) drove in Southern, giving Bethesda an 8-4 lead with one out.
“Southern is just a baseball player,” said Morris. “He grinds it out, he’s one of those guys that, he brings a lot of energy when he’s behind the plate and that rubs off on the rest of our team.”
“I talked to a lot of coaches that I’ve played with in the past, and also our coaches here at Bethesda,” said Southern. “They just told me that I need to relax. So a thing I’ve been doing every time before I step in the box, I take a deep breath, I shake my arms out and I just throw the hands.”
But, with two outs in the eighth inning and bases loaded on walks, the Thunderbolts threatened to tie the game again. Enter: Gavin Hinchliffe. The righty got Bethesda out of the jam, striking out the first batter he faced. Then, with two on and no outs in the top of the ninth, Hinchliffe struck out three to end the game and ensure the 8-4 Big Train win.
“We don’t work on [that], believe me,” said Morris. “It just happens, and they go out there and they thrive off it, they want to be successful in that situation.”
After Bethesda starter Brock Guffey (Alabama) lasted four innings, giving up one unearned run on one hit and two walks and striking out four, a combined effort of Jarret Krzyzanowski (NOVA Southeastern), Ryan Metz (VA Tech) and Hinchliffe allowed only three runs, two of which were earned, on four hits and seven strikeouts.
The Big Train play again tomorrow, resuming their rained-out game from June 20 against the Baltimore Redbirds. The game will begin at 7 p.m., starting in the top of the third inning with a Redbirds runner on second base, one out and the Big Train leading 5-1.