Kobe Kato (Arizona) is fired up as he crosses home with the go-ahead run Tuesday night in Game Two.
Two months and forty-some games ago, Bethesda Big Train set out with one goal in mind: win a fourth straight Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League championship. Now, after a thrilling rally on Tuesday night to force a decisive final game in the League Championship Series, Big Train has a chance to walk away with the title Wednesday night when they take on the Silver Spring-Takoma Thunderbolts at Povich Field.
Big Train coaches, players and fans are no strangers to this situation; the team has been in the league finals every year since 2009. But with seven total Cal Ripken League championships, dating back to 2005, the team has never won four straight titles. The only team with a four-peat is the Baltimore Redbirds, who beat Big Train each year from 2012 to 2015.
After sweeping the Alexandria Aces handily in the semifinals, Big Train fell in an early hole against the Thunderbolts in game one of the LCS Monday, and could never climb out, losing 9-0. With their backs against the wall, however, the team responded well, winning 6-3 Tuesday night thanks to a clutch hit by Drew Hamrock (Virginia) and dominant bullpen performances from Ryan Metz (Virginia Tech), Elliot Zoellner (Maryland) and Chase Lee (Alabama).
Hamrock and Matt Thomas (William & Mary) have been the best hitters for Bethesda in the playoffs, each collecting three extra-base hits in four games. Thomas leads all remaining playoff hitters with a whopping .613 average and seven walks, and has reached base in 13 of his last 15 plate appearances. Hamrock leads Big Train hitters with six playoff RBIs to go with his impressive .500 average. On the T-Bolts side, Brady Pearre and Lucas Donlon have led the way in the postseason, each hitting over the .400 mark with multiple home runs.
First pitch at 7 p.m. at Shirley Povich Field. Come out to support Big Train, and if you can't make it, tune in to Alex Drain and Shaun Salehi on Mixlr.