Bethesda (27-5) outlasted the D.C. Grays (15-17) on Monday in D.C., collecting a 2-1 win. Both sides began the game with strong starting pitching.
For Big Train, Carter Bach (Wake Forest) began with seven strikeouts over 4.1 scoreless innings. The Grays responded with Cade Negley, who threw 5.1 innings and complied seven strikeouts of his own.
The scoreless tie was broken in the sixth when Big Train first baseman John Glenn (California Baptist) doubled with one out to reach scoring position. Leftfielder Justin Wylie (Arizona) reached first on an error, and catcher Jacob Southern (Jacksonville) walked to load the bases. With the pressure mounting on Negley, second baseman Jacob Westerman (San Francisco) drew a walk to score Glenn and hand Big Train the 1-0 lead.
Lefthander Scott Parker (San Francisco) had come out of the Bethesda bullpen partway through the fifth, and he was a major factor in shutting down D.C.’s bats. When he entered the game, he prevented two inherited Grays runners from scoring, and he allowed just one hit and one run in his 3.2 innings of work. “[Parker] did a great job,” Big Train assistant coach Bill Sizemore said. “He has a very good curveball versus lefthanders, [and D.C.’s] better hitters are left-handed hitters, [so] that’s part of why we went with him.”
With the game tied at one entering the eighth, Justin Wylie drew a leadoff walk and later stole second before advancing to third on a Jacob Westerman single. Rightfielder Andrew Shebloski (St. Mary’s (CA)), who was making his first plate appearance of the night after entering the game just an inning earlier, singled to drive in Wylie for what would be the winning run. “I’ve just got to do whatever I can to help the team out in a close situation,” Shebloski said.
Righthander Gavin Hinchliffe was brought in to close the game for Big Train in the bottom of the ninth. Grays third baseman John Marti reached third base with one out on a series of errors, but catcher Ryan Shaw lined out to Big Train shortstop Fox Semones (James Madison) and Hinchliffe struck out all-star designated hitter Mitch McIntyre to end the game. “[Hinchliffe] did a great job,” Sizemore said. “He challenged hitters, he got himself into a situation with a runner on third... and then he came back against their better hitter and struck [him] out.”
With the Ripken League playoffs now just weeks away, and with Bethesda having already clinched the South Division title, it was important to be tested and to emerge on top in a close game such as this one in order to be best prepared for the postseason. “We can win a lot of games by big scores, but that’s not going to happen in the playoffs,” Sizemore said. “So winning a game like tonight, 2-1, where we had to do the small things to win, and we did, makes a big difference.”
Big Train will return home on Tuesday to host the FCA Braves in the final contest before the Ripken League All-Star game, which is set for Wednesday night at Povich Field.
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