Bethesda, MD -- The Southern Maryland Senators (3-7) beat out the Bethesda Big Train (10-3) 12-8 in ten innings on Saturday. The loss was the second straight extra-inning game for the Big Train and ended Bethesda’s seven game win streak. Even though the streak was snapped, the Big Train coaches think the team is continuing to grow.
“What you can't control, you can’t control. So yeah, you know, losing stinks, but, you know what, a lot of learning and growing experiences the past few days,” said pitching coach Craig Lopez.
Brandon Clarke (State College of Florida) started for the Big Train and struggled with his command. In just two thirds of an inning, Clarke walked six batters and allowed six earned runs putting the Big Train in an early 6-0 hole. Clarke, though, showed promise with his fastball, which sat in the mid-90s. He'll just have to harness it in future outings.
The Bethesda offense started to dig into the deficit in the bottom of the third. Jeffery Heard (Sacramento State) drove in John Long (UNC) on an RBI groundout, and Teddy Ruffner (UNC Wilmington) hit an RBI single to left field to make the score 6-2.
However, Southern Maryland quickly responded in the top of the fourth. Bethesda reliever Skyler Hutto (Alabama) threw a wild pitch, allowing outfielder Cadyn Karl to scramble home and extend the Senators’ lead to 7-2. This wild pitch was Hutto’s only blemish in his admirable relief appearance. In four and a third innings, Hutto allowed just that run and struck out three batters, giving the Green and White a chance to get back into the game.
In the bottom of the fourth, the Big Train offense strung together a plethora of well-placed knocks to cut the Senators' lead to two runs. Dixon Williams (ECU), Connor Rasmussen (ECU), and Heard hit back-to-back-to-back RBI singles to make it 7-5.
Bethesda completely erased their initial deficit in the bottom of the sixth. Rasmussen added his second RBI of the day on a single, and Heard ripped a sacrifice fly to deep right field for his third RBI of the day, making the score 7-7.
Despite Bethesda’s valiant comeback, the Senators retook the lead in the top of the seventh. After Brett Vondohlen grounded out, Big Train first baseman Carter Cunningham (ECU) made an error trying to throw out Matt Ilgenfritz, who was advancing to third base, leading Ilgenfritz to score and the Senators to retake the lead.
The Big Train continued to fight,. After the heart of the Bethesda order loaded the bases against Southern Maryland reliever Jake Zicka, Ruffner smashed a sacrifice fly to center field to tie the game at eight. But, that was all Bethesda could muster, and the game went to extra innings tied at eight.
Southern Maryland took the lead for good in the top of the tenth inning. The Senators scored four runs off of Austin Morris (Alabama), pitching in his fifth inning of relief, after an error by Morris, a bases-loaded walk and a two-run single from Ilgenfritz. The Big Train were able to put two runners in scoring position in the bottom half of the tenth, but could not score.
Even though Morris had a long day on the mound and ended up throwing 89 pitches, Bethesda’s coaches stood by their decision to keep him in to start the tenth.
“Austin [in the ninth inning], he was the best he looked right the whole time,” Lopez said. “We had zero issues or thoughts about him going out there and finishing that game.” Sometimes even the best laid plans go awry and despite Bethesda's dominance in several offensive categories, it just wasn't their night.
The Big Train look to bounce back and continue their home stand with a Father’s Day evening game against Cropdusters Baseball on Sunday, June 18 at 7 p.m.
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