Gio Diaz (St. Mary's CA)
After splitting a doubleheader with the D.C. Grays Friday the Bethesda Big Train (12-5) split two games on the road against the Gaithersburg Giants (7-9) Saturday.
The first of the two games could not have gotten off to a better start for the Big Train. On the very first pitch of the afternoon, Darius Foster (San Francisco) hit a solo home run to put Bethesda on top. Foster's home run would spark a three-run first inning for the Big Train. Ryan Daugherty (St. Mary's CA) plated Gio Diaz (St. Mary's CA) with a ground ball, and Christian Jayne (East Carolina) hit an RBI single to score Kobe Kato (Arizona) as Bethesda took an early 3-0 lead.
Gaithersburg would have a quick response however as in the bottom of the first Brendan Hord (Kentucky) hit a sacrifice fly, and Brandon Greim (San Francisco) scored on a passed ball to cut the Big Train lead to 3-2. In the bottom of the fourth, the Giants would tie the game as Gino Avros (Austin Peay) was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded. Then in the bottom of the fifth, they would take their first lead of the ballgame as Braden Doughty (LSU) hit a sacrifice fly to score his brother Cade Doughty (LSU).
With the lead entering the top of the seventh, Gaithersburg went to reliever Michael Matter (Belmont) in an attempt to hold their 4-3 advantage. The move would not pay off for the Giants as the Big Train rallied. Diaz scored on a fielder's choice, and Kato scored on an error as the Big Train jumped ahead 5-4.
The Big Train would add insurance in the top of the ninth as Jayne hit an RBI single to score Matt Thomas (William & Mary), making it a 6-4 game. This would be more than enough run support for Chase Lee (Alabama) who struck out four to earn the save and clinch a game one victory for Bethesda.
After winning game one, the Big Train went for a sweep of the doubleheader in a seven-inning finale. The Giants would strike first blood in this one as in the bottom of the second as Ethan Wentzlaff (UMBC) scored on an error. The Gaithersburg lead would not last for long, however, as Bethesda rallied to take the lead in the top of the fourth.
Jacob Southern (Jacksonville) added to his league-leading RBI total with a double to score Diaz and then came home to score on a single by Tate Soderstrom (Arizona) as the Big Train took a 2-1 lead. Bethesda's lead would be short-lived as in the bottom of the fourth Carson Jones (Virginia Tech) scored on a ground ball to tie the score at two.
Despite leaving the game tied at 2-2, Bethesda starting pitcher Logan Barker (Liberty) did not give up an earned run. Both of the Big Train starter's runs were unearned as he put together arguably his strongest outing of the summer thus far. The right-hander struck out six batters and allowed just three hits in four innings of work.
"Being confident on the mound was huge," Barker said of how he was able to have success. "The big thing tonight was to be more efficient."
In the top of the fifth, the Big Train made sure the bullpen had a lead to work with. Keith Torres III (Sacramento State) came home to score on a ground ball from Cade Hunter (Virginia Tech) as Bethesda took a 3-2 advantage. With the lead, Sebastian Martinez (Austin Peay) entered the game and put together a strong performance of his own. He struck out three batters in the fifth and in the sixth struck out two more running his total to five.
Holding onto a 3-2 lead, Martinez was given a chance to close the game out in the seventh. However, after walking the leadoff hitter and throwing two straight balls to Greim, skipper Sal Colangelo opted to go to Anthony Piccolino (James Madison) to earn the save.
Things would not go as planned however as the Giants would tie the game on an error. Piccolino would respond with two quick outs to set a bases-loaded two-out situation for Harris Kain (North Alabama). After a long at-bat, Kain would win the battle as he drew a walk to score the winning run for the Giants. With that, the Big Train split a doubleheader after losing on a walk-off in game two for the second straight day.
"Tomorrow's a new day," Barker said, as the Big Train will have a chance to rebound against the last-place Alexandria Aces Sunday. In order to come out victorious, Barker said the team needs to stay positive. "Not getting ahead ourselves and not getting in our heads mainly. We let the game get to us today."
Mixlr is still having techincal issues but we will try to broadcast in Alexandria where Alex Drain and Shaun Salehi will have the call.