Alec Burleson is congratulated at home plate after his third-inning home run gave Bethesda a 5-0 lead and ended his long ball slump.
Big Train (29-5) used a 12-run surge in the sixth inning to blow away the Baltimore Dodgers (10-21) by a score of 18-0 on Thursday night at Povich Field. Big Train was officially the away team for the contest, and batted in the top of each inning.
Bethesda first got on the board in the second inning, when catcher Jacob Southern (Jacksonville) hit a home run that sailed high into the trees beyond left field. First baseman John Glenn (California Baptist) and leftfielder Justin Wylie (Arizona) each scored to give Big Train a 3-0 lead. “It felt pretty good, especially since it was early in the game to give us an early lead,” Southern said. “It made the at bat a little bit worth it because I broke a bat [earlier in the count], which doesn’t get you in the best mood.”
Alec Burleson (East Carolina) had a big day for Bethesda, lasting six shutout innings as the starting pitcher and hitting a two-run home run in the third to give Bethesda a 5-0 lead. “On the mound, I didn’t feel like I had my stuff,” Burleson said. “It worked out for me, though. I threw enough strikes and ground balls and had the defense behind me.” The home run kept Burleson atop the Ripken League home run leaderboard with a total of nine on the season, and ended a home run drought that had lasted for 12 games since June 24. “[The home run] felt good,” Burleson said. “It was the easiest swing I’ve [taken] all year, and it went pretty far. It just felt good to square one up and watch it leave the yard.” The productivity on both sides of the ball was nothing new to the rising sophomore, who also leads the league in batting average (.432) and RBI (38). “He’s a great player,” Big Train manager Sal Colangelo said. “He’s playing for a great institution, he’s got a great coaches, and he’s a competitor.”
The bulk of Bethesda’s scoring came in the sixth, when any doubts about the outcome of the game were removed thanks to a 12-run barrage. With one out and rightfielder Andrew Shebloski (St. Mary’s (CA)) on second, the Dodgers brought DMond LaFond in from their bullpen. The eight Big Train hitters who faced LaFond combined for five walks and three hits, running the score up to 11-0 by the time LaFond was removed from the game. New reliever Taj Porter didn’t fare much better, allowing six more runs while recording the inning’s final two outs. In all, Big Train sent 16 batters to the plate in the sixth, with almost every spot in the order getting the chance to hit twice. “I think we were just all locked in,” Burleson said. “Coming off the off day yesterday for some of the guys [due to the CRCBL all-star game], we were just locked in and ready to go today.”
After tacking on a final run in the seventh, the Big Train bullpen held the Dodgers scoreless to complete the shutout victory. Baltimore was limited to just two hits and four walks at the plate during the game. The win keeps Bethesda ahead in the race for the Ripken League’s best regular season record, while the Dodgers are now three and a half games behind the final playoff spot.
Big Train will host the Silver Spring-Takoma Thunderbolts at Povich Field on Friday.