Pitching Gem: Dalton Ponce and Co. Lock Down Thunderbolts

Fun fact: the odds this picture of Dalton Ponce pitching was taken during an at-bat in which the batter struck out is 10/15.

The Bethesda Big Train (21-6) squared off against the Silver Spring-Takoma Thunderbolts (13-13) for the last time this season at Shirley Povich Field on Sunday night. Pitching--more specifically, Big Train pitching--dominated the ballgame. The 7-1 final score doesn't quite do the game that eyewitnesses watched justice.

Dalton Ponce (St. Mary's CA) started the game and through five innings had ten strikeouts, including six consecutive in the second and third innings. He departed after the fifth without giving up a hit--the second time this season Ponce threw at least five no-hit frames.

After the game, Ponce was reached for comment on the team's no-hit attempt and his own individual performance as well. 

"I knew from the start these guys would try to jump on that fastball, and I was going to try to get it by them," he said. "The off-speed was working too."

And that it was as he tossed perhaps the most dominant-looking start a Big Train pitcher has had this season. Watching six consecutive batters get fanned relatively quickly had the crowd's eyes glued.

Despite the team's best efforts, though, the no-hit bid was broken up by an eighth inning single. But to reach that deep into the game with the no-hitter alive, the team required a couple rather incredible plays in the field. 

"Yeah, I mean the diving play by Keith [Torres] was great," Ponce said. "And a couple no-hitter saving plays were unbelievable. [Christian Jayne] with that flyball as well. Defense wins ballgames too, and they were just electric."

In addition to Ponce, Carter Spivey (East Carolina), Jack Weeks (Georgetown), and Hunter Cooley (Florida Atlantic) combined to throw four innings at the back end of the game, allowing a single run on only two hits. As a staff, the pitching was stellar and led to the type of game the Big Train could have won without much offense. The Thunderbolts lone run came in the ninth inning.

For the Big Train, their offense rolled early and added a handful of insurance runs in the third, fourth, and eighth innings. With that early lead, their pitching simultaneously snuffed out any chance of the Thunderbolts mounting a comeback before it even began.

As far as hitters go, a few names stood out on the night. Cade Hunter (Virginia Tech) broke the scoreless tie with a bases-loaded single in the second, and Martin Vincelli-Simard (Sacramento State) tacked on an RBI later in the frame on a sac fly. Jacob Southern (Jacksonville) knocked his seventh home run of the season out of the park, good for the league lead for the All-Star catcher. Christian Jayne (East Carolina) brought home three runs: on an second-inning fielder's choice and on singles in the fourth and sixth.

On Monday, the Big Train will travel to D.C. to take on the Grays. Bethesda's winning streak increased by one again Sunday night, making it four games now--you'll want to catch the Big Train for this one as they seem to be heating up and ready to rumble. Start time should be 7 p.m. See ya there.

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