The Bethesda Big Train and Silver Spring-Takoma Thunderbolts faced off in their final regular season matchup on Tuesday. Coming off a huge win at the CRCBL All-Star game, in which players from the Big Train and T-Bolts teamed up to take down the Israel National Team, the two clubs easily fell back into form as league rivals. The Big Train victory came on a Grant Knipp (Campbell) three-run walkoff homer in the bottom of the eighth, enacting the Cal Ripken League run rule and firmly closing the door on the T-Bolts, 14-1.
After a scoreless the top of the first, Big Train easily moved the ballgame into the bottom half of the inning, where they exploded on offense. They batted around the lineup and tallied four runs on just two hits before the T-bolts were able to shut them down.
Advancing to first on a walk, leadoff batter Ryley Johnson (East Carolina) scored his 13th run of the season to get the Big Train on the board. Then, Kemp Alderman (Ole Miss) added an RBI to his season total on a single that drove Jack Cone (William & Mary) home. Nolan Schanuel (Florida Atlantic) followed up with another single that brought Knipp in. Helped along by the T-Bolts pitcher, Alderman came home on a bases-loaded walk to Keith Torres (Sacramento State) for run number four. A mid-inning pitching substitution by Silver Spring-Takoma finally saw them collect outs two and three to put them back up at bat.
Efficient base running from the T-Bolts saw them post one run in the top of the second before Big Train could stop them. But, Bethesda’s offense kept chugging along in the bottom of the inning, improving their lead to five. Cone scored for the second time in as many frames on an error by the T-Bolts shortstop and Schanuel doubled to drive Matt Thomas (William & Mary) home. After two full innings, Big Train led 6-1.
The score remained 6-1 through the third as neither team was able to round the bases. Stalled again in the fourth, the T-Bolts returned to the field while Big Train stepped back up to the plate. Silver Spring-Takoma’s pitcher loaded the bases on a hit by pitch, setting up Torres to collect two more RBIs on a huge double to left field, bringing in Alderman and Schanuel.
Dominant on the mound, Ryan Daugherty (St. Mary's CA) faced just three batters in the top of the fifth. Playing a part in all three outs, Torres put out a T-Bolt at second and then threw the batter out at first to comple the double play. Another 6-3 putout play saw him easily end the T-Bolts time at the plate. Also managing a double play in the field, Silver Spring-Takoma stopped Bethesda from adding to their lead. Still 8-1 through six, solid fielding from both teams stalled any offensive production.
After Daugherty completed five solid innings, allowing just one unearned run, southpaw Everett Catlett (Georgetown) took over on the mound. He threw a scoreless sixth and then struck out all three batters in the seventh.
Tacking another three runs onto their total, Big Train led 11-1 after seven. Thomas brought Johnson in with a double, and on his third hit of the night, Schanuel singled to drive home Thomas and Knipp for good measure. Two more strikeouts from Catlett and a putout at second held the T-Bolts to zero runs in the eighth inning.
The T-Bolts started the bottom of the eighth by walking two Big Train batters. Stepping up to the plate, Knipp hit a three-run walkoff homer into the trees behind left field ending the game, 14-1, due to the CRCBL’s run rule.
The Big Train are back at home Wednesday for a doubleheader against the Grays, starting at 4:30 p.m.
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