With six runs already home in the first inning for Big Train against the Silver Spring-Takoma Thunderbolts Sunday night, Austin Gauthier (Maryland) added yet another deadly blow to the Big Train’s efforts at the plate.
Gauthier patiently worked his way to a full count against Thunderbolts’ starter James Springer and then immediately took advantage of a hanging pitch. The future Terp smashed a homer – his third of the year – over the left field wall to cap off a dominant eight-run first inning to abruptly put the game out of reach.
The home run from Gauthier was the exclamation point on the Big Train’s massive inning, as Bethesda swiftly dealt with Silver Spring-Takoma at Shirley Povich Field, 18-5, to capture a third straight victory.
Building off 10 wins in their first 12 games, the Big Train threatened Thunderbolts’ Springer right out of the gates in the bottom of the opening inning. After Darius Foster (San Francisco) got hit by a pitch and eventually advanced to third base, Matt Thomas (William & Mary) and Rocco Peppi (Long Beach State) loaded the bases with one out.
Kemp Alderman (Ole Miss) made no mistake at the plate soon after, as he muscled all of his 250 pounds of body weight into a pitch that sailed over the tall center field wall for a grand slam to put Bethesda up 4-0. Alderman's sheer power at the plate has put the rest of the league on notice and the sophomore now has collected two home runs and 18 RBIs in just eight games.
Even after Bethesda notched four quick runs, the bottom of the first saw even more movement on the scoreboard in the Big Train’s direction. Danny Neri (Notre Dame) doubled and Brady Gumpf (Notre Dame) walked, which then set up Keith Torres (Sacramento State) for an RBI opportunity. Torres proceeded to crack a two-run double down the third base line to extend the Big Train’s lead to six.
Gauthier then finished off the first inning hit parade with a no-doubt homer of his own to left field to bring in Torres and push the score to 8-0.
While Bethesda cruised to a quick eight-run advantage, starting pitcher Matt Bedford (Notre Dame) held down the fort from the mound to dictate the flow of the game. The right-hander tossed three scoreless innings to kick off the game and surrendered just three hits and recorded four strikeouts to maintain the 8-0 lead, before being replaced by college teammate Ryan Lynch (Notre Dame) in the top of the fourth.
The Big Train accounted for another run on the scoreboard to add onto its already healthy margin in the bottom of the fourth inning. Christian Martin (Virginia Tech) singled to open the inning and advanced to second. Alderman mimicked Martin with a chopper single through the right side of the infield to drive home his fifth RBI of the game and Bethesda’s ninth run overall.
Even though Silver Spring-Takoma tallied two runs against Lynch in the top of the fifth to make the score 9-2 in Bethesda’s favor, the Big Train’s early offensive onslaught gained even more steam in the bottom of the fifth inning.
With Torres and Gauthier on the corners, a passed ball through the Thunderbolts’ catcher allowed Torres to reach home. giving Bethesda double-digit runs for the ninth time this season. Then soon after with the bases loaded, Peppi nailed a hard grounder to the shortstop that conceded an error, which let two more Big Train runs come home in the inning to extend the lead to 12-2.
Bethesda quickly slammed the nail in the coffin, totaling five more runs in the bottom of the fifth to push the score to 17-2, which was a large enough margin to eventually invoke the Cal Ripken League's run rule.
After Ryan Daugherty (St. Mary's CA) struck out the side in the top of the sixth, Nolan Schanuel (Florida Atlantic) blasted a solo home run to right field to put Bethesda up 16 runs on the evening.
The Thunderbolts plated three runs in the top of the seventh, but Danny Checkosky (Christopher Newport) recorded the final three outs of the game and Bethesda officially took the 18-5 win at home to cap off a masterful offensive showing from the Big Train’s roster in the seven-inning affair.
With the win that now comes one day after the Big Train’s back-to-back victories against the Alexandria Aces, Bethesda remains atop the league with an 11-2 record and is now 3-0 against the Thunderbolts. The Big Train will be back at it Monday night for another home game against the South County Braves, a team that Bethesda has defeated three times this season with a +35 run differential.
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