As Bethesda Big Train held a 4-2 lead over the Alexandria Aces on the road heading in the top of the eighth inning, Nolan Schanuel (Florida Atlantic) did just enough to give the Big Train a formidable lead late in the game.
Rocco Peppi (Long Beach State) created a scoring opportunity after starting the inning with a single, then he eventually made it all the way to third base while the Aces recorded two outs. Schanuel confidently came up to bat next to salvage Bethesda’s late-game RBI chance.
The Florida Atlantic slugger crushed a ball towards Alexandria’s first baseman on the ground and the infielder couldn’t make the play, resulting in an RBI single to give the Big Train an insurmountable three-run lead. Schanuel’s late insurance run helped Bethesda close out the Aces in a tight game and the Big Train secured the 5-2 victory on the road.
After taking down the Aces for their third win against them this season, the Big Train maintained their top spot among the rest of the league. Bethesda is now 14-2 and has won six straight games dating back to June 19. The Big Train further separated themselves in the standings with the road win and moved to a healthy 5.5 games ahead of second-place Alexandria.
Building directly off their most recent 7-4 victory against the Gaithersburg Giants Thursday, the Big Train started their fourth meeting of the season against the Aces with their usually lethal offensive presence at the plate.
With runners on the corners and two outs in the bottom of the first inning, Darius Foster (San Francisco) immediately took advantage of a passed ball that got away from the Aces’ catcher, as he sprinted home with ease and made it to home plate safely to award the Big Train a swift 1-0 lead.
Soon after Foster’s opening run, Bethesda found itself with bases loaded in the same half inning as it looked to capitalize on Alexandria’s early erratic pitching. Trevor Doyle (Sacramento State) came up to bat and patiently drew the Big Train’s fourth walk of the evening, forcing home Bethesda’s second run of the game before the Aces could record the first three outs.
Bethesda’s offensive prowess had no problems transferring over into the top of the second inning, as Keith Torres (Sacramento State) and Austin Gauthier (Maryland) reached first and second with one out. With two outs, Peppi, who came into the game with a league-best 17 RBIs, quickly pounced on the scoring opportunity and smacked a ball down the third base line for a single to drive in the third run of the game.
In the top of the third, Foster drove in a run on a single to right field to extend Bethesda’s lead to 4-0.
Even though starting pitcher Grayson Hitt (Alabama) surrendered one run in the bottom of the fourth inning to push the score to 4-1, he delivered countless masterful pitches from the mound through the four innings of work to stunt Alexandria’s offense. Highlighted by his 1-2-3 third inning in which he struck out the side, Hitt conceded a total of three hits and struck out an astonishing 10 of the 17 Aces batters he faced.
The Big Train’s bats were held to four runs through six innings, but pitcher Noah Carabajal (Long Beach State) did a proper job managing the game from the hill after he took over in the bottom of the fifth inning. He tossed three innings, allowing just a single run and tallied two strikeouts to help maintain Bethesda’s three-run advantage heading into the seventh inning.
After Bethesda’s offense went quiet in the top of the seventh again for its third straight scoreless inning, Carabajal gave up a booming solo homer to dead center field which trimmed the Big Train’s lead to 4-2 in the bottom of the seventh.
Bethesda’s hitting had a brief resurgence in the top of the eighth inning as Schanuel drove home Peppi to give the Big Train a strong 5-2 lead.
Matt Howat (William & Mary) threw a scoreless bottom of the eighth to keep the Aces’ offense stalled before Jesse Barron (San Francisco) recorded the last three outs to secure the save and the 5-2 win.
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