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Big Train Bats Break Gaithersburg Resistance in 13-3 Win

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Gaithersburg, MD – The Big Train topped the Gaithersburg Giants, 13-3, on the road Wednesday. After 10-straight games of scoring five runs or less, Bethesda finally broke through on offense, slashing ten hits and stealing nine bases. Their offensive dominance forced the Giants to use eight different pitchers in the game. 

 

Bethesda put two runners on in the first, but couldn’t convert. In the bottom of the inning, Matthew Williams drove a ball to third with two outs that went by Jack Guerrero (UNC Wilmington) at third to score a run for Gaithersburg and give the Giants a 1-0 lead.

 

But the Big Train stormed back in the top of the third, cycling through the lineup to take a four-run lead with a strong two-out rally. Jeffrey Heard (Sacramento State) kicked it off with a walk and a stolen base, before advancing to third on a Giants error. Jason Schiavone (James Madison) and Jacob Orr (Maryland) kept it rolling with back-to-back walks. Dixon Williams (East Carolina) then chopped a soft grounder to the shortstop but turned on the gas to narrowly beat out the throw to first, knocking in Heard and keeping Bethesda alive in the inning. This spurred Gaithersburg’s first pitching change, subbing out their starter, Connor Leard, and bringing in Zach Tukis. 

 

With the bases still loaded, Zeb Ruddell (Louisiana State) came up big, tripling down the right field line to clear the bases. Ruddell also scored himself to cap off the inning, touching home thanks to a wild pitch. 

 

The Giants tried to mount a comeback as Williams drove in Casey Gibbs with an RBI single in the bottom of the inning to make it 5-2. However, the rally was squelched when, with two runners on, Big Train shortstop Casey Bishop (Towson) successfully scooped and slung a ball to Eddie Hacopian (Maryland) at first to end the inning. 

 

Bethesda’s offensive production was essential for their win as early defensive sloppiness granted the Giants extra opportunities, which they took advantage of. The Big Train cleaned it up as the game went on, however, headlined by Lucas Phelps (Florida Atlantic) catching a Giants runner stealing and an on-the-run grab by the centerfielder Ruddell for the second out in the bottom of the fifth. 

 

Ryan Ertlschweiger (James Madison) got the start for the Big Train, his first appearance since June 28. The ace pitched a full five innings, recording six strikeouts and only giving up two runs on four hits. 

 

“It was good to get back out there,” said Ertlschweiger. “It always feels good being able to go out and pitch on this team you know, it's just fun…compared to pitching at school, less pressure.” He also touched on his command, specifically with his heater. “I thought I was throwing a fastball well for strikes early in the game. Just trying to get ahead and make them hit.”

 

Despite the early defensive slip-ups, Ertlschweiger never lost faith in his guys. “I always have trust in my fielders,” he said. “You know, I made one of those errors early. We're going to make errors, but I think that's part of trusting your teammates and knowing that they're going to hit and that we're going to make the plays.” 

 

And the offense did, indeed, come through for Bethesda’s pitching staff. In the top of the sixth, Hacopian, the most recent addition to the roster, scored his first run for the Big Train, touching home after a Giants error. The next batter, Schiavone, flew out to left field, scoring Phelps. The Big Train offense broke the game open with their subsequent at-bats in the inning, keeping the ball on the ground to tack on two more runs. Hacopian and Phelps each scored again in the seventh, upping the score to 11-2. 

 

In only his second game in Green and White, Hacopian finished 2-4 with two walks and three runs scored. The outfielder described how he felt about returning to play in his second summer in the Cal Ripken Sr. Collegiate Baseball League (last year Hacopian played for the Alexandria Aces). “[It] feels good to be out here again. Took a little bit of a break, but it feels good and [I'm] just happy we won tonight.” 

 

Heard and Teddy Ruffner (UNC Wilmington) both slapped RBI singles in the ninth for two more Big Train scores. The Giants got one run back in the bottom of the stanza with a sacrifice fly, but failed to stage an epic late-game rally. 

 

After Ertlschweiger’s strong performance, Darin Kuskie (South Carolina - Upstate) came in for two innings in relief, allowing just one hit and no runs. Kevin Scully (James Madison) also saw time on the bump, punching out a Giants batter while facing a two-out jam in the eighth and preventing any additional Gaithersburg runs. Aden Ritenour (Shepherd University) wrapped up the game for Bethesda, letting one run through, but still delivering the final three outs. 

 

The Big Train will continue their road trip with a double-header against the Thunderbolts on Thursday, July 13 at Blair High School. The teams will play two seven-inning games, with game one scheduled for 5 p.m. and game two at 7:30 p.m. 



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