Kobe Kato (University of Arizona), Cade Hunter (Virginia Tech), and Chase Lee (Alabama) are all smiles after the dominating win over the Aces.
Was the sport of the night football or baseball? Fans and players alike on the Bethesda side would definitely say football with the beatdown of 24-4 against the Alexandria Aces Saturday night.
Big Train swept the Aces in the semifinal series of the Cal Ripken League championship, adding to their overall runs against the opposing team. Bethesda outscored Alexandria a total of 107-35 in the combined regular and playoffs games. Bethesda scored 35 runs in the two playoff contests alone.
The Big Train wasted no time Saturday, getting rolling in the top of the first. Gio Diaz (St. Mary’s CA) singled, stealing his way into scoring position at second. Diaz would move himself closer to home as he stole third, ultimately making it home after a fielder’s choice allowed Christian Jayne (East Carolina) to see first.
Five runs brought in on four hits made for an exciting second inning. Cade Hunter (Virginia Tech) would start the inning off with a walk. Tate Soderstrom (Arizona) was quick to move Hunter to second, singling his way to first. Yet another walk issued by the Aces’ pitcher put Darius Foster (San Francisco) aboard, loading the bases. All three runners ready for anything, Diaz hit a sac fly for his second at bat, bringing Hunter home and advancing the remaining two runners. Bethesda now led 2-0, but would soon push their lead further.
Keith Torres III (Sacramento State) hit a hard single, driving in teammate Soderstrom. Coming up for his second at bat, Kobe Kato (Arizona) advanced to first on a single, driving home Foster. The last run brought in for the Big Train in the top of the second, Torres would make his way home on a single hit by Jayne. Bethesda snatched the dominating lead over the Aces 6-0, not looking back for the rest of the evening.
A pitching substitution on the Aces’ part did little to stop Bethesda's dominant offense. The Big Train would bring in another five runs in the top of the third, this time on only three hits.
Soderstrom would find his way back on base with a walk, advancing to second as Foster walked as well. The two would be advanced closer to home by Diaz, who was put out at first on a sacrifice. After Torres was hit by the pitch, the Aces made the decision to sub in from the bullpen. On his third pitch in with the new pitcher, Kato smacked a single, bringing in Soderstrom and Foster to make it 8-0. Matt Thomas (William & Mary) killed a ball into the gap, advancing all the way to third with a two-run triple. Drew Hamrock (Virginia) joined the RBI fun as he hit a single, bringing Thomas home. Bethesda now led the Aces 11-0.
Soderstrom led off the top of the fourth with his first playoff home run (and second overall) of the 2019 season, bringing Bethesda’s lead to 12-0.
“It was a good team effort tonight, … we all stuck to our approaches and got it done,” Soderstrom said of the incredible offense the Big Train displayed.
The Big Train kept on chugging through the top of the sixth. The team would bring in another four runs, dominating the Aces. Leading off, Hunter smacked a single, and found his way to third as Soderstrom followed with another single. Foster would bring Hunter home on a single, advancing Soderstrom to scoring position at second. A stolen base by Foster and an error committed by the Aces’ catcher brought Soderstrom home, for another run for Bethesda. Torres singled, bringing Foster home for the third run of the inning. A single hit by Kato and another error by the Aces’ allowed Torres to make it all the way to third. Thomas would single Torres in for the final run of the inning, bringing it to 16-0.
Alexandria would finally answer in the bottom of the sixth. After the no-hitter was broken up in the fifth, the Aces loaded the bases in the sixth and a grand slam hit brought in four runs. This cut into Bethesda's lead, though the Big Train were still ahead 16-4.
Bethesda would score two additional runs in the top of the seventh, as things on the diamond got a little heated. After another unsuccessful substitution from the Aces’ bullpen, Diaz found his way to first on a walk. Torres followed suit as he was walked, pushing Diaz to scoring position at second. Diaz would steal third, closer to home in order to score. Another at bat for Kato, Diaz would score on a wild pitch while Kato was at the plate. Kato would go on to hit a single, bringing Torres home. The Big Train led the Aces 18-4, playing a tight defensive front for the remainder of the game.
The final scoring inning for Bethesda, the top of the eighth, brought in six runs. The team decided to show their skills on the offensive end. Hamrock started off the inning with a double, Hunter following behind on a walk. Both would soon be advanced as Soderstrom smacked a single. Though the Aces’ looked for a fresh arm in yet another pitching substitution, Foster found his way to first on a walk.
This pushed Hamrock home, the bases still loaded. Diaz made his way to first on an error committed by the Aces’ right fielder, allowing Hunter to make his way home. The errors seemed to stack up as Torres found his way to first on an error by the second baseman. Both Soderstrom and Foster scored. Stealing his way to third, Diaz would make it home on a sac fly hit by Kato. Torres would be the final run of the game, reaching his final destination on a wild pitch by the opposing pitcher, making it 24-4.
Seeing a pitcher in the batter’s box is quite the rare occurrence. In the top of the ninth, leading by 20, right handed pitcher Maceo Campbell (Longwood) stepped into the box and smacked a double into center field. Campbell was all smiles on second as the Bethesda fans cheered on from the stands.
“I didn’t really think I was going to hit at all this season. I got a good pitch and I just swung, it just happened. The standing ovation from the crowd just put a nice smile on my face,” Campbell said of his double and the energy the crowd supplied.
With the win, Big Train advances to the Cal Ripken Championship finals to face off against the Silver Spring-Takoma Thunderbolts. The winner of the three game series will be named the league champions for the 2019 summer season. Bethesda will host Silver Spring for the first game on Monday evening at Shirley Povich Field. Be sure to come out in masses to support the eight time league champions!