06/03/2023 10:10 PM
Bethesda, MD -- In the first league game of the season, the Bethesda Big Train beat Cropdusters Baseball 10-5. The Big Train took an early, commanding lead and did not look back, giving them a strong start to their season. The winning pitcher for the Big Train was Patrick Galle (Ole Miss), and the losing pitcher for the Cropdusters was Joe Pippin.
While Big Train manager Sal Colangelo was excited about the result, he knows it's just the first step in a season-long journey. “At the end of the day, winning the first one is definitely, definitely good, but it is not how you start, it is about the end result and how you finish,” Colangelo said.
The scoring started early for the Big Train who put up six runs in the first inning and knocked out Cropdusters starter Pippin after he only recorded one out. Chris Hacopian (Maryland) started the scoring with an RBI single to left that scored John Long (UNC). However, on the same play, Cropduster left fielder Matt Miura threw out Casey Bishop (Towson) at the plate. Yet, the Green and White were not to be deterred. The Big Train extended their lead to 3-0 after a two-run double from Teddy Ruffner (UNC Wilmington). Sloppy defense from the Cropdusters allowed the Big Train to score three more runs in the inning. This game saw poor defense from both teams. The Big Train and the Cropdusters combined for eight total errors in the game.
“We got some guys playing out of position right now, so once that changes, they will feel more confident in their comfort level where they want to be, and [our defense will] improve quickly,” Colangelo said.
Galle pitched well against the Cropdusters for three and a third innings, but they slowly chipped away at the Big Train lead. In both the second and fourth innings, Jason Schiavone (James Madison) made errors trying to throw out runners at third base that resulted in Cropdusters runs.
The Big Train, however, put hopes of a comeback to bed in the bottom of the fourth inning by scoring four runs off reliever Ryan Cook. The Big Train runs came courtesy of a fielding error by first baseman Hunter Russell on a sharp ground ball hit by Dean Toigo (Cypress College) and a two-run opposite field double from Zeb Ruddell (LSU), making the score 10-2.
The Cropdusters were able to score three more runs, and their designated hitter, Matt Ervolina, hit a two-run home run, but the Big Train bullpen pitched strongly to shut the squad from Olney down. Jack Hostetler (Whitman College) closed out the game for the Big Train, pitching three innings without allowing an earned run.
A key contributor to the Big Train’s success was that their pitchers threw strikes. Big Train pitchers only walked two batters, while Cropdusters pitchers walked eight.
“I mean if you can throw strikes, you know, the percentages are on your side,” Colangelo said. “I don't care how hard it is. Throw strikes. Throw a couple pitches to mix it up, and everything else will fall into place.”
The Big Train look to make it two in a row to start the season on Sunday, June 4, on the road against the Silver Spring-Takoma Thunderbolts in Silver Spring at 6 p.m.
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