Kobe Kato (Arizona) at the plate.
The Bethesda Big Train (10-3) extended their first-place lead in the Cal Ripken league Thursday with an 8-1 victory over the Silver Spring-Takoma Thunderbolts (6-5).
In their fourth meeting of the season, the Big Train and T-Bolts had yet another game resulting in a blowout. However, that did not look like it would be the case in the early going. With the game scoreless entering the top of the third, the T-Bolts struck first blood. Ian McMillan (Houston) hit an RBI single to give the T-Bolts an early 1-0 lead.
The Silver Spring lead would not last for long as in the bottom half of the third Jacob Southern (Jacksonville) plated Darius Foster (San Francisco) with an RBI single to tie the game at one. In the bottom of the fourth Bethesda took their first lead as Christian Jayne (East Carolina) hit an RBI double just inside the first base bag to put the Big Train on top 2-1.
Bethesda extended the lead in each of the next two frames. In the bottom of the fifth, both Gio Diaz (St. Mary’s CA) and Kobe Kato (Arizona) scored on wild pitches extending the lead to 4-1.
One inning later, in the sixth, Bethesda pulled away. Diaz ripped an RBI double to score Keith Torres III (Sacramento State) and Foster. Diaz would come around to score on a ground ball by Kato, and then Matt Thomas (William & Mary) ripped an RBI single to score Southern as Bethesda took a commanding 8-1 lead.
For Kato, the RBI added to a day that saw him go 3-for-5 raising his league-best batting average to .526.
“I’m just trying to see the ball well,” Kato said of his hot start to the season. “I’m sticking to my approach, driving the ball up the middle, the other way and home runs when I run into one, just keeping things simple.”
In addition to another big night at the plate, Kato made an outstanding catch on a line drive at third base in the eighth inning. “This is a three-part game: offense, defense, and baserunning,” Kato said when asked about the importance of playing well defensively.
With a big lead, the Bethesda Big Train shut down the T-Bolts offense. Starter Michael Bechtold (James Madison) earned the win throwing five innings of one-run ball with four strikeouts. The bullpen combination of Nathan Schneider (St. Mary’s CA), Anthony Piccolino (James Madison) and Chase Lee (Alabama) combined to pitch four shut out innings with four strikeouts to lock down an 8-1 victory.
This weekend will be a busy one for the Big Train as tomorrow they’ll travel to D.C. for a double-header with the Grays. Saturday, they’ll head to Gaithersburg for a double-header with the Giants and finish the weekend Sunday in Alexandria against the Aces. On what he wants to see from his team this weekend Kato said: “It’s going to be a lot of long games, a lot of sun so mainly just making sure everybody’s healthy and into the game, making sure they’re ready to go and hopefully we can just compete.”
The Big Train will return home Monday for Hunter Renfroe night when they host the FCA Braves at 7 p.m.