Matt Thomas collected six total hits and Drew Hamrock came up with a timely knock of his own as Big Train (26-6) swept a doubleheader against the FCA Braves (13-19) on Sunday. Bethesda won the first game, 5-4, and the second game, 7-1, and heads into a three-day break as winners of nine straight.
GAME ONE: Big Train 5, Braves 4
Despite playing at South County High School in Lorton, Virginia, Big Train served as the home team in the first game of the twin bill, as the contest was a makeup from a home rainout against the Braves on July 6. But playing on an unfamiliar field didn’t stop the team from winning in style, as Drew Hamrock (Virginia) hit a walkoff double in the bottom of the seventh to kick off the afternoon on a positive note for Bethesda.
On a sweltering afternoon, the Big Train bats wasted no time getting hot. Gio Diaz (St. Mary’s CA) doubled to deep center field to kick off the home first, and quickly trotted home on Christian Jayne’s (East Carolina) single inside the first base bag, giving Big Train a 1-0 lead just two batters in.
Bethesda couldn’t scratch anything else across in the frame, but it didn’t matter early on, as Anthony Piccolino (James Madison) dominated on the mound, striking out six over four shutout frames. After he departed, however, the Braves pounced for two runs in the top of the fifth, going up 2-1.
The Big Train faithful had no need to worry, though; Jacob Southern (Jacksonville) quickly brought things even in the bottom half with his eighth home run of the season, a majestic solo shot to left field. Matt Thomas (William & Mary) followed with a double, and after a Tate Soderstrom (Arizona) groundout moved him to third, the Braves went to the bullpen. Their new hurler couldn’t find his groove, however, as he uncorked a wild pitch which scored Thomas to put Big Train back on top 3-2.
Southern drove home Jayne with a single to right in the sixth, putting Bethesda up by two runs, which at the time appeared to be a comfortable lead. But the Braves launched back-to-back homers in the top of the seventh inning - the last regulation frame of the makeup doubleheader contest - and things were tied back up at four runs apiece.
Enter Hamrock and the speedy Darius Foster (San Francisco). After two quick outs to begin the bottom of the seventh, Foster drew a walk to keep the inning alive. Hamrock wasted no time, lining the second pitch he saw into the right-center field gap. As the ball rolled toward the warning track, the speedy Foster raced around second and third and crossed home standing up, giving Big Train a 5-4 victory.
GAME TWO: Big Train 7, Braves 1
Now serving as the away team in what was Sunday’s originally scheduled contest, Big Train struck first in the nightcap. After a pair of scoreless frames, Keith Torres (Sacramento State) led off the top of the third with a single. After a walk and two fly outs, Thomas legged out an infield single to short to load the bases for Soderstrom. The California native delivered, lining a single into center field to plate Torres and Diaz for a 2-0 Big Train advantage.
Fresh off a clutch performance earlier in the day, Hamrock carried a hot bat into the evening, leading off the fourth with his first of three hits in game two. He quickly stole second and third, and came in to score on a Torres base hit. Diaz singled and Kato walked to load the bases, and Thomas delivered, lining a two-run single to extend Big Train’s lead to 5-0.
In the fifth, Hamrock doubled and came in to score on Foster’s base hit to right. After the Braves got on the board in the sixth, Big Train answered right back in the seventh. Thomas opened the inning with a single - his fourth hit in as many at bats - and after a pair of wild pitches, came in to score on Cade Hunter’s (Virginia Tech) groundout, making it 7-1 Big Train.
While the offense broke out for seven runs and twelve hits, Ryan Daugherty’s (St. Mary’s CA) strong start should not be overlooked. The southpaw four scoreless innings with five strikeouts in his longest outing of the summer. Jack Weeks (Georgetown) and Elliot Zoellner (Maryland) combined for three innings out of the bullpen, allowing just two baserunners and a lone Braves tally while striking out five.
Big Train has the next three nights off, but 14 of Bethesda’s stars will head to Cary, North Carolina, on Monday as part of the Ripken League’s team in the Southeast Collegiate Prospect Showcase. Big Train returns home to Povich Field on Thursday for Disney Night against the Alexandria Aces.
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