07/27/2017 1:17 AM
After quickly dispatching the Silver Spring-Takoma Thunderbolts in two games in the Cal Ripken Collegiate League semifinals, the Big Train are in the last two for the ninth straight season. They will face the Baltimore Redbirds in the 2017 championship series.
“The guys and coaches work hard all year long,” manager Sal Colangelo said. “It’s not easy. To get to the championship shows the character [of both organizations]. It should be a great series.”
The matchup will be a familiar one: the Big Train and Redbirds have squared off for the League championship since 2015, when the division format was implemented. After coming up short in 2015, the Big Train won it all last year, and will look to defend their title.
The Big Train put up two convincing wins in the first round of playoffs. On Tuesday, Bethesda’s dominant pitching was on full display as they shut out the T-Bolts, 2-0, behind Ty Madrigal’s (St. Mary’s) stellar eight-inning performance. On Wednesday, the Big Train’s powerful offense, as well as more excellent pitching, carried them to a series-clinching 8-0 victory.
Third baseman Luke Heyer (Kentucky) enters the League Championship series riding a .500 postseason average, recording four hits in his eight at-bats. Heyer, who has been on fire as of late, carries an 11-game hitting streak. Zach Jancarski (Maryland), Jordan Sergent (High Point), and Vinny Esposito (Sacramento State) have also been major contributors, all sporting averages above .333.
The pitching contingent of Ty Madrigal, Stephen Schoch (Maryland-Baltimore), Blake Sanderson (Florida Atlantic), Matt Pulos (Cal State Stanislaus), Alex Calvert (Erskine), and Austin Keen (Kentucky) combined to throw 18 scoreless innings in the semifinals.
“I like where we are right now,” Jancarski said. “I think we’ve got the right guys to [win it] this year.”
The Redbirds are the only team that gave the Big Train significant trouble in the regular season. Bethesda lost three of the four games they played – one-third of their nine losses. Two of the losses were decided by two runs or less, however, so Bethesda can confidently look to make a strong impression this weekend.
“A lot of excitement, and have a lot of fun,” Colangelo said about the team’s approach heading into Game 1. “Put a good show on for the league, let the kids play hard and let the chips fall where they do.”
The first pitch at Povich Field is at 7 pm. Come out and support the Big Train in this crucial first game of the championship series! The game will be live-Tweeted (@gobigtrain) and broadcast by Max Wolpoff and PJ Glasser (mixlr.com/big-train).
Quotes acquired from Ben Portnoy.
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