In a classic pitchers’ duel, the Big Train took down the visiting Alexandria Aces by a score of 2-0 Sunday night to improve to 3-0 on the season.
Led by a strong start from Tim Yandel (Tulane), the Big Train pitchers limited the Aces to just three singles across nine innings. Yandel struck out five, walked one, and allowed two hits in his five innings of work. Tyler Tobin (George Mason) (1-0) gave up just one hit in two innings of relief to pick up his first win of the year, while Walker Sheller (Stetson) pitched two more shutout innings to earn the save.
Only one Alexandria batter reached second base over the course of the game, when Sheller walked a batter and then hit another to put two men on with two out in the eighth. However, he was able to induce a groundout to keep the Aces off the scoreboard.
Meanwhile, a Big Train offense that scored six runs the night before struggled to capitalize on opportunities early in the game. Cody Brown (Mississippi State) led off the bottom of the first with a single, and advanced to second on a one-out infield hit by Zach Kirtley (St. Mary’s, Calif.). However, the next two hitters, Chris Lewis (Sacramento State) and Brandon Gum (George Mason), both flied out to end the threat.
Through the six innings, it was much of the same, as they managed to get a man on in the first five innings, but failed to score in each instance. In the seventh, however, Brandon Hunley (Sacramento State) was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning, and Harrison Crawford (Creighton) followed with a single. This spelled the end of the night for Aces starter Kevin Superko, as he was pulled and replaced by Brandon Justice. The first hitter he faced was Nick Feight (UNC Wilmington), who moved the runners to second and third with a sacrifice bunt. Then, Brown hit a hard liner toward center that seemed destined to fall in, but the Aces center fielder made a fine sliding grab. Crawford was forced to stay at second on the play, but Hunley tagged up and scored to give the Big Train a 1-0 lead.
The Big Train struck again in the eighth, when Kirtley singled to lead off the inning and moved up to third on two groundouts. Then, with Ryne Willard (North Carolina State) at the plate, Aces pitcher Jeremy Larkey uncorked a wild pitch that allowed Kirtley to score from third, putting the Big Train up 2-0 late.
They carried this lead into the ninth, and Sheller pitched a 1-2-3 inning to secure the Big Train victory.
Notes: Kirtley had two hits, which gives him three straight multi-hit games to open the season…the Big Train pitching staff allowed just three hits for the third straight game; they have allowed three runs on nine hits over 28 innings to start the season…the Big Train plays the Vienna River Dogs at 5 p.m. Monday in Gaithersburg…the next home game is Thursday at 7:30 against the Baltimore Redbirds.
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