Dalton Ponce (St. Mary's CA) struck out nine in five strong innings against Gaithersburg Wednesday.
The Bethesda Big Train (4-2) improved to 2-0 away from home on the young season with an 8-2 win over the Gaithersburg Giants (5-2) Wednesday night.
Bethesda would strike first blood as in the top of the third Ryan Daugherty (St. Mary’s CA) hit a ground ball to score Jacob Southern (Jacksonville) as the Big Train took an early lead. The advantage would not last for long however, as the Giants rallied in the bottom half of the frame. Ethan Wentzlaff (UMBC) and Warren Laster (Grambling State) hit back to back singles setting up runners on first and second.
Later in the inning, Laster would be picked off for the first out, but Wentzlaff advanced to third on a questionable obstruction call. This displeased Big Train skipper Sal Colangelo leading him to be ejected from the ballgame. Wentzlaff scored on a sacrifice fly, and Cade Doughty (LSU) hit a solo homer later in the frame to put the Giants up 2-1.
Though the inning did not go the Big Train’s way, Southern said seeing Colangelo stand up for his team lit a spark. “Oh yeah!” the Big Train catcher said when asked if Colangelo being thrown out fired up the team. “It’s always an energy boost when our head coach gets thrown out. It’s fun."
Still down by two entering the top of the sixth, the Big Train offense heated up. With the bases loaded and nobody out, Gio Diaz (St. Mary’s CA) worked a walk after being down in the count 0-2, tying the score. Then, Southern gave the Big Train the lead with a sacrifice fly to score Keith Torres III (Sacramento State). The big inning wouldn’t end there. Later in the frame Matt Thomas (William & Mary) hit a two-run single to score Christian Jayne (East Carolina) and Diaz, as Bethesda jumped on top 5-2.
In control, Bethesda handed the ball over to the bullpen after another solid outing from Dalton Ponce (St. Mary’s CA). The Bethesda starter earned his second win of the season after throwing five innings of two-run ball and striking out nine.
“He was working his off speed a little more than last time," Southern said of Ponce. “We just mixed it up a little bit better today."
With Ponce done, Anthony Piccolino (James Madison) entered the game and struck out the side in the bottom half of the sixth. This allowed the Big Train to get the bats rolling again as in the top of the seventh they added two more insurance runs. Southern drew a bases-loaded walk to score Martin Vincelli-Simard (Sacramento State) and Torres came around to score on an RBI single from Kobe Kato (Arizona) as the Big Train took a 7-2 lead.
The team wasn’t out of the woods yet, though, as the Giants loaded the bases with two men out in the bottom half of the seventh. Then came the rain. With the three-hitter Doughty set to bat rain poured down delaying action for nearly an hour.
“It was kind of annoying,” Southern said of the rain delay. “We were being told the rain wasn’t going to go away for two hours and it went away in 20 minutes.”
When play resumed, Chase Lee (Alabama) took the mound for an SEC showdown with the LSU freshman. Lee would come out on top, striking out Doughty to end the threat. Bethesda would add another run in the top of the eighth as Torres stole home on a double steal. Meanwhile, Lee would shut down the Giants by striking out four batters in 2.1 innings of work to clinch an 8-2 win.
Next, the Big Train will head home for a rematch with the D.C. Grays Friday night at Shirley Povich Field. It will be Washington Capitals Night at the ballpark, with gates set to open at 5:30 p.m.