In the top of the seventh inning with the Bethesda Big Train tied with the Gaithersburg Giants at 3-3, Big Train’s Jack Cone (William & Mary) had a chance to break the deadlock in the first game of the regular season with runners on first and second and no one out.
Cone opted to lay down a bunt towards the first base line to advance the runners, but a little bit of luck swayed in the Big Train’s direction. The Giants’ pitcher scooped up the perfectly tapped bunt, but sent the throw to first base a few feet above the first baseman’s head, allowing Rocco Peppi (Long Beach State) and Matt Thomas (William & Mary) to reach home and giving Bethesda a 5-3 lead.
The Giants’ error opened the floodgates in the Big Train’s favor, as Bethesda put together a six-run explosion in the seventh inning to carry them to a 12-6 win over Gaithersburg to kick off the Big Train’s 2019 title defense campaign. Bethesda moves to 1-0 on the season after capturing the road victory.
To start off the action in Gaithersburg, both teams were held without a hit in the opening inning, but it was Bethesda that threatened to put some runs on the scoreboard early on in the top of the second.
After Thomas advanced to second base on a ground ball due to a throwing error, Cone drove a double down the left field line to bring Thomas home for the Big Train’s first run of the season. Cone eventually found his way home for Bethesda’s second run of the evening to give Big Train a 2-0 lead after Gaithersburg’s catcher overthrew third base.
Bethesda kept its offense rolling into the third inning against Giants’ starting pitcher Will Jenkins, when Darius Foster (San Francisco) singled and then stole second base with blistering speed to beat the incoming throw. Nolan Schanuel (Florida Atlantic) picked up where he left off during the Big Train’s two exhibitions, smacking an RBI single into left field to bring Foster home to push Bethesda’s lead to three.
After the Big Train scored the first few runs of the game, Gaithersburg had its response in the bottom of the third inning. The Giants moved runners to second and third with no outs and two consecutive ground balls brought in both men to bring the Bethesda lead back to a 3-2 score.
Each offense couldn’t manage a run in either the fourth and fifth innings, but the Big Train certainly came close in the top of the fifth. Schanuel cracked a double to center field to get the Big Train offense going. Thomas then walked, as the red-hot Cone followed suit with a walk of his own to load the bases with two outs, but a fly out to deep center field ended the threat.
In the bottom of the sixth, Gaithersburg scored the equalizer when Jack Ryan hit a single up the middle to push the score to 3-3.
Big Train’s bats would once again come alive, though, as they would quickly recapture their lead in the top of the seventh. Peppi reached base on an error, then Thomas walked, which eventually led to Cone’s pivotal bunt that led to two runs scored from Bethesda to bring the score to 5-3 in the Big Train’s favor.
Even after the Big Train made it 6-3, the offense kept pouring in off the bat of Austin Gauthier (Undecided) later in the inning. On a 2-1 count with a runner on first, Gauthier launched a rocket to center field for a two-run home run to push Bethesda’s lead to five. The Big Train went on to score six runs in the seventh inning alone as it led 9-3 after the hit-filled inning.
The Giants tacked on three more runs in the bottom of the seventh for a comeback bid and the score moved to 9-6, though it wouldn’t be enough for Gaithersburg to overcome the previous six-run deficit.
Bethesda scored three more insurance runs off in the top of the ninth to make it a six-run advantage on the scoreboard once again, then Big Train’s pitcher Ryan Metz (Virginia Tech) closed out the rest of the game and shut the door on the Giants’ comeback hopes. He retired the final six batters to give Bethesda its first win of the season.
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