With the Bethesda Big Train trailing 3-1 to the Gaithersburg Giants in the top of the eighth inning, the Big Train successfully put runners on base to put the pressure on the Giants’ two-run lead in an effort to salvage a late comeback attempt.
After Kemp Alderman (Ole Miss) and Christian Martin (Virginia Tech) managed to make it on the corners with two outs, Trevor Doyle (Sacramento State) notched a huge RBI single to shrink the deficit to one. However, still with two runners on base and a chance to knot the game at three, the Big Train were abruptly forced into a critical out to put the team’s RBI opportunity to bed.
The Giants’ ability to stop the Big Train’s eighth inning push summed up Bethesda’s inability to produce any kind of scoring on the road Thursday night, as they eventually fell 3-2 to Gaithersburg in a low-scoring affair. Bethesda now moves to 25-7 on the season and 8-4 in July, with the number one seed in the Cal Ripken League’s postseason already locked up.
The Big Train came into Thursday’s game with a +26 run margin over the past two games, dismantling the Aces twice on two consecutive days. However, even after scoring a grand total of 31 runs in those recent matchups, it was the team’s pitching that drew the attention in the early goings.
Gaithersburg stranded two Bethesda batters on the bases in the top of the opening inning, then it quickly took advantage at the plate. The Giants rattled off two hits and scored two runs in the bottom of the first inning to take a 2-0 lead. Out of the seven total meetings between these two teams this season, in which the Big Train have accumulated a 4-3 record, it was just the second time that Gaithersburg struck first on the scoreboard to start the action.
The Big Train’s red-hot offense didn’t allow the Giants’ two-run lead to grow in the top of the second, though. With the help of a passed ball that put Jack Cone (William & Mary) on third base with two outs, Doyle took advantage of a favorable 3-1 count at the plate and slotted a grounder through the right side of the infield for a single to bring home Cone to cut the deficit to one.
The game swiftly swayed back into Gaithersburg’s favor in the bottom of the third, when the Giants rallied for one run off a lead-off triple in the inning to extend their lead back up to two. Big Train’s starter Luke Baker (Jacksonville) finished his day on the mound after three full innings as he surrendered three runs and tallied a season-high five strikeouts.
Pitcher Kyle Robinson (Texas Tech) stepped onto the hill in relief of Baker in the bottom of the fourth and immediately worked a shutout inning to stall the Giants’ offense to keep the game at a reachable 3-1 margin.
Even after Robinson tossed another scoreless inning in the fifth, the Big Train’s couldn't get much going at the plate. In the top of the sixth, despite collecting six hits up to that point, Bethesda was itching for just its second run of the day when it got a lead-off runner on base for the fourth time in six innings. With Alderman standing on first after an infield single, the Big Train proceeded to go down 1-2-3 to end the inning, still trailing by two runs heading into the seventh.
Bethesda went down without a run crossing in the top of the seventh, which once again opened the door for Gaithersburg to extend its lead. The Giants had a dangerous opportunity with runners on second and third in the bottom of the seventh, but Ryan Lynch (Notre Dame) brilliantly worked out of the jam and struck out a batter to conclude the inning’s threat.
Doyle then collected his third hit of the day with an RBI single in the top of the eighth to cut the Giants’ lead to 3-2, but that would be all for the Big Train’s comeback. Matt Thomas (William & Mary) and Danny Neri (Notre Dame) reached on an error and a single, respectively, in the ninth, but Gaithersburg's closer stranded them on base to officially close out the contest.
The Big Train return to action on Saturday at Povich Field against the Silver Spring-Takoma Thunderbolts.
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