Bethesda, MD – The Bethesda Big Train (10-2) squeaked by the Silver Spring - Takoma Thunderbolts (2-8) 4-3 to win their seventh straight game of the season. Jack Guerrero (UNC Wilmington) hit a single to left-center field in the bottom of the 11th that drove in Jason Schiavone (James Madison) to lock in the win.
“[The hit] felt so good,” Guerrero said. “[I] worked a 3-2 count, then just sat fastball and drove it to left.”
Bethesda’s marathon win, obviously, did not come easy. The Thunderbolts quickly scored in the top of the first. The second batter of the game, Coleman Calabrese, lined a double to right field to drive in leadoff hitter Quincy Via. The Big Train, however, immediately responded in the bottom half of the first frame. Dixon Williams (East Carolina) sprinted home on a shallow Jacob Orr (Maryland) sacrifice fly to tie the game at one.
Guerrero started his massive day and untied the game in the fifth inning with a 385-foot blast into the right field trees. Bethesda then extended their lead to 3-1 after Zeb Ruddell (LSU) scorched a double down the left field line to bring Dean Toigo (Cypress College) in to score.
Silver Spring - Takoma chipped away at the Green and White lead in the eighth inning. With runners at first and third, Thunderbolts second baseman Joe Kaleck hit a bloop single to center field just out of the reach of a diving Ruddell, allowing Calabrese to score and make the game 3-2. But, Bethesda reliever Max Martzolf (Florida Atlantic) limited the Thunderbolts to just that run to cap off his impressive three innings of work.
In the ninth, Bethesda was moments away from victory. With two outs and a runner on second, Thunderbolts pinch hitter Beck Urofsky hit a sharp groundball to Bethesda shortstop Lucas Phelps (Florida Atlantic). The ball took a nasty hop and Phelps misplayed it, allowing the Thunderbolts to tie the game at three. While reliever Jack Robinson (Roanoke College) was unlucky to blow the save, he limited the damage and pitched strongly in extra innings to give the offense an opportunity to win, which Guerrero took advantage of with his walkoff single.
Ryan Ertlschweiger (James Madison) started for the Big Train and pitched solidly despite not having his best stuff. The Thunderbolts had marginal success against Ertlschweiger after he dominated them in four scoreless innings in his last start. Across three innings today, Ertlschweiger allowed one earned run and struck out one batter.
The Thunderbolts also pitched strongly. Ryan Mariani started for the Thunderbolts and allowed three earned runs and struck out four batters across six innings of work. Bryce Green relieved Mariani and pitched extraordinarily well. Through the use of an unconventional arm angle, mid-80s fastball and sweeping slider, Green pitched four scoreless innings and struck out seven Bethesda batters. It was Zane Gross who came on to start the eleventh for the Thunderbolts and took the loss.
Despite the tough opposition, the Big Train played strong, and the team’s coaches saw the win as a sign of resilience.
“As I look down the bench, there’s not a single guy that won’t give me 100% effort, that I don't feel confident that will come up with a big hit and make the big play,” Big Train manager Sal Colangelo said. “That's just, that's the type of build they have, the grit they have the tenacity to fight, it's, it's just, it's a special team.”
The Big Train stays at home tomorrow to play the Southern Maryland Senators (3-6) at 7 p.m. Tomorrow also marks the Big Train’s second annual Pride Night at Shirley Povich Field.
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