The Bethesda Big Train was victorious over the Herndon Braves in an 8-0 shutout that clinched the season series for the Big Train. With the win, Bethesda improves to 22-10 on the season, keeping their divisional lead over the second-place Alexandria Aces at 2.5 games.
Big Train starter Sean Barry (University of San Diego) got the win, going six strong innings for Bethesda. He allowed only four hits in the outing, did not walk a batter, and struck out four. He did, however, hit four batters.
“He was great. Barry did a great job for us,” manager Sal Colangelo said. “He kept us in the game, kept us ready to go so we could score some runs. He made pitches where he had to, and defensively we were good as well.”
As Colangelo said, the defense shone, playing clean, error-free baseball all night. Barry handled the runners he did allow well, allowing only two to reach third, but in the rare cases where Barry needed it, the Big Train defense picked him up, executing key plays to keep Braves runners off the base paths. One such play was made in the first inning, when third baseman Allen Smoot (University of San Francisco), second baseman Clayton Daniel (Jacksonville State University), and Barry himself worked in tandem to execute a rundown that erased a leadoff double and kept the Braves from potentially having runners at the corners with only one out. Defense also played a role in the third. The Braves were threatening with a runner on third base and slugger Andy Mochabee (Middle Georgia College) up to bat when Barry lost control of a pitch. It seemed as if the Braves were about to score their first run of the game, but Bethesda catcher Michael Emodi (Creighton University) expertly corralled the ball and dove to tag the runner out, keeping Herndon off the board and ending the inning.
The Big Train bullpen also played a key role in the win, completely shutting down the Braves lineup. Erik Wiebke (Stetson University) and Chase Gardner (University of San Francisco) combined for three innings of one-hit ball, striking out four and facing the minimum of nine batters, thanks to a double play induced by Gardner to end the game.
“[The bullpen] was outstanding, lights out,” said Colangelo. “They’re going to be big for us down the stretch.”
Bethesda’s offense was, of course, essential as well.
Big Train struck early, scoring in the first, via a Logan Farrar (Virginia Commonwealth University) leadoff double to left field, a Clayton Daniel single to center, and an Allen Smoot sacrifice fly, and again in the third, this time by a Cody Brown (Mississippi State University) walk, a productive groundout by Justin Morris (University of Maryland), and a Gunnar Lambert (Florida Atlantic University) single.
The biggest inning, however, was the fourth. The Bethesda lineup capitalized on the opportunities given to them by the Herndon pitching staff to draw five walks, one each by Garrett Kueber (Moorpark College), Daniel, Vinny Esposito (Sacramento State), Brown, and Lambert. Once on base, the Big Train baserunners exploited a baulk and a passed ball, among other things, to allow them to score four runs, capped off by a gutsy steal of home by Brown.
“We did the little things tonight,” Colangelo said, referencing Brown’s steal as well as the team’s approach as a whole with runners on base.
Big Train exited the fourth with a 6-0 lead, and tacked on another two runs in the eighth after Lambert’s second single of the night, an Emodi double that scraped the wall in deep centerfield, a Kueber RBI groundout, and a passed ball, ending the game with eight runs scored.
Big Train plays again Friday, when they will take on the Baltimore Redbirds in a doubleheader. The first game is scheduled for 4:30, and the second for 7:30.
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