07/10/2021 10:47 PM
As the Bethesda Big Train firmly held control of a 12-3 game against the D.C. Grays in the first game of a doubleheader, slugger Matt Thomas (William & Mary) provided the exclamation point for the Big Train’s offense in the top of the ninth inning.
Thomas took a full-count pitch for a ride and capped off Bethesda’s dominant day with a towering grand slam to give his team 16 runs in the first of two games.
His sixth home run of the season epitomized the Big Train’s successful day at the plate in D.C. as Bethesda captured both games of the road doubleheader by scores of 16-3 and 10-1 to improve to 22-5 on the season.
Matt Bedford (Notre Dame) stole the show in game two, firing five nearly-perfect innings before handing it over to the bullpen, as the Big Train tossed a combined seven-inning no-hitter in the nightcap.
To kick off the first game, the Big Train’s resurgent offense, which scored 16 runs in its past two games entering Saturday, once again found its footing in the top of the opening inning.
Darius Foster (San Francisco) led off the game with a five-pitch walk and swiftly advanced to second base off his 19th stolen base of the season. Thomas then cracked a single for his 21st RBI of the season to give Bethesda an early 1-0 lead.
The Grays answered with three runs in the bottom of the first. However, it didn’t take too long for Bethesda to take hold of the reins once more. With the bases loaded in the top of the second, Dylan Hatfield (Virginia Tech) took care of business at the plate.
Hatfield, who came into the first game with just two hits and one RBI on the season, lined a triple into right field for a standing three RBI hit to clear the bases. The catcher eventually made it home off a wild pitch to award Bethesda a quality four-run inning and a 5-3 advantage.
While the offense started to find its groove, Big Train’s starting pitcher Luke Baker (Jacksonville) stood tall on the mound. He maintained Bethesda’s two-run advantage through four innings.
Kyle Robinson (Texas Tech) came out of the bullpen in relief in the fifth and controlled the action to Bethesda’s favor. He needed just 10 pitches to retire three Grays in the frame.
The Big Train quickly distanced themselves on the scoreboard even further in the top of the sixth. With bases loaded, Keith Torres (Sacramento State) exhibited his best attribute at the plate: an abundance of patience. The shortstop collected his 19th walk of the year to force home the sixth run.
Thomas then followed and took advantage of a favorable 3-1 count, as he found a hole on the left side of the infield with a two-run single to balloon the Big Train’s lead to 8-3.
With three runs already home in the inning, Kemp Alderman (Ole Miss) broke the game wide open. On a 2-1 count with runners on second and third, Alderman annihilated the fourth pitch of his at-bat as it undoubtedly sailed over the left field wall for a three-run home run to give Bethesda a formidable 11-3 lead. The Ole Miss product’s rocket capped off the Big Train’s six-run sixth inning and gave him his league-leading sixth homer of the season.
Bethesda eventually piled onto its run total with a loud Rocco Peppi (Long Beach State) solo home run in the top of the eighth to push the score to 12-3.
Thomas then belted his grand slam in the ninth, which gave him a whopping seven RBIs for the game and put him in a tie with Alderman for the league lead in homers.
Jack Cone (William & Mary) threw two smooth innings at the back end to close out the Grays as the Big Train captured the 16-3 win in the first game of the doubleheader.
The Big Train’s dominant hitting carried over into the second game of the doubleheader, but the pitching was the storyline. Matt Bedford (Notre Dame) masterfully controlled the game on the mound, tossing five hitless shutout innings. The Grays couldn't solve the Big Train starter all night, as the only baserunner he surrendered was a hit batter in the fifth, who was quickly erased on a double play.
Chris Bookhultz (Maryland) made his second appearance of the season in the sixth, firing a scoreless frame. Zach Locke (Long Beach State) came on the mound in relief in the seventh and surrendered one run, but kept the Grays hitless, concluding a combined no-hitter for the Big Train – their first since June 15, 2019.
Bedford dominated from the start, and his offense spotted him some early run support. The first batter of the game, Ryley Johnson (East Carolina), exhibited no fear with a full count and he sent a towering solo shot over the right-field fence to give Bethesda a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning.
It wouldn’t take long for the Big Train to connect on their fourth total home run of the day, when Grant Knipp (Alabama) mimicked Johnson and hit a solo home run deep over the left field wall to extend Bethesda’s run advantage to two in the top of the second.
Bethesda wasn’t finished overpowering the Grays’ starter in the same inning, however. With runners on second and third, Keith Torres (Sacramento State) hit a single to drive home Darius Foster (San Francisco). Soon after, Danny Neri (Notre Dame) scored from third on a balk to push the score to 4-0. Austin Gauthier (Maryland) rounded out the Big Train’s four-run inning with an RBI double into the left field gap to firmly put his team ahead even further.
With a quick 5-0 advantage on the scoreboard the Big Train’s bats went right back to work in the top of the third. Utility man Jack Cone (William & Mary) sent a deep fly ball into center field, which was enough to drive home Rocco Peppi (Long Beach State) for a sacrifice fly to bring Bethesda’s run total to six. In the same inning, the Big Train drove in two more runs to bring the score to 8-0.
Bethesda tacked onto its eight-run lead in the top of the fifth inning, when Torres notched another RBI off a single into center field to bring the score to 9-0.
The Big Train made it 10-0 in the top of the seventh, before Locke came on to close out the no-hitter.
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