The Cal Ripken League sent a handful of its best players to the Team USA Baseball Complex in Cary, North Carolina Monday and Tuesday to showcase their talents in front of scouts from all 30 major league baseball teams.
Among those from the Ripken League to make the trip were 14 Bethesda Big Train players.
The list included: Michael Bechtold (James Madison), Maceo Campbell (Longwood), Chase Lee (Alabama), Ryan Okuda (Virginia Tech), Dalton Ponce (St. Mary's C.A.) and Nathan Schneider (St. Mary's C.A); infielders Gio Diaz (St. Mary's C.A), Kobe Kato (Arizona) and Keith Torres III(Sacramento State); outfielders Christian Jayne (East Carolina), Tate Soderstrom (Arizona) and Matt Thomas (William & Mary); and catchers Cade Hunter (Virginia Tech) and Jacob Southern (Jacksonville).
The Ripken League club played two games while on the trip one Monday against the SunBelt Collegiate League all-stars and one Tuesday against the Southern Collegiate League all-stars. Though the club would leave Cary with just one win, the trip was a success for several Big Train players who played exceptionally well with the scouts watching. Here's a recap of both games and how those from the Big Train performed.
Game 1: In the first of two games in Cary, Big Train pitcher Michael Bechtold (James Madison) got the start on the mound. He would not disappoint as he tossed two scoreless innings without giving up a hit and recorded a strikeout. The game's first run would be driven in by Big Train infielder Gio Diaz (St. Mary's CA) in the top of the third. Diaz ripped an RBI single to score Bethesda teammate Matt Thomas (William & Mary) to give the Ripken League a 1-0 lead. Big Train outfielder Chrisitan Jayne (East Carolina) would help push the lead to 2-0 later in the inning with an RBI ground ball and Diaz scored on a single by Gaithersburg's Cade Doughty (LSU) to extend the Ripken league lead to 3-0.
With Bechtold's day done, Big Train hurler Dalton Ponce (St. Mary's CA) came in to pitch the fourth and fifth innings. Ponce would dominate as he did not allow a run, struck out three batters and allowed just one hit. The Cal Ripken League would add to their lead in the seventh inning to take a 7-0 lead.
In the bottom half of the seventh Big Train pitcher Nathan Schneider (St. Mary's CA) tossed a scoreless frame. In the top of the eighth, the Ripken league extended their lead when Big Train star Kobe Kato (Arizona) hit an RBI single and Thomas plated D.C.'s Jordan Wiley with a ground ball to make it a 10-0 game.
The SunBelt league would make things interesting with a five-run eighth inning but in the top of the ninth Jayne helped assure there would be no comeback as he lined an RBI Triple to score Diaz and extend the Bethesda lead.
With a 13-5 ninth inning league, Grays two-way player Austin Deming (BYU) shut the door to clinch the victory.
Game Two: In the second and final game of the showcase, the Cal Ripken stars took on the Southern League stars.
All Big Train players who did not play in game one got the chance to showcase their talents in game two. Big Train starting pitcher Ryan Okuda (Virginia Tech) got the nod and was absolutely dominant. Okuda tossed two innings of scoreless and hitless baseball and struck out four Southern League batters in a brilliant outing. In the top of the fourth inning, two Big Train players helped produce the lone run of the day for the Ripken League.
With Scotty Morgan (Geroge Mason) of the Aces already on base, Bethesda catcher Cade Hunter (Virginia Tech) ripped a single to set up an RBI opportunity for Big Train outfielder Tate Soderstrom (Arizona). Soderstrom would deliver as he cranked an RBI double to plate Morgan and put the Ripken League on top 1-0. Soderstrom would finish the day with two hits as he put together a solid performance on the big stage.
Down 2-1 entering the top of the seventh Big Train reliever Maceo Campbell (Longwood) took the mound. Campbell would light up the radar gun as he overpowered Southern League hitters in route to a scoreless inning.
Still trailing, Big Train closer Chase Lee (Alabama) entered the game in the top of the eighth to pitch the game's final two frames. Lee would not allow a base runner as he forced weak contact and struck out three batters to keep the Ripken League within one. There would be no comeback however as the Southern League closed out a 2-1 victory to mark the end of the showcase.
All in all, however it was a very successful trip for many Big Train players who impressed those in attendance.