The Bethesda Big Train learned a valuable lesson from Monday’s game against the Loudoun Riverdogs: compete for all nine innings.
Down by as many as six runs, the Big Train chipped away the Riverdogs’ lead by scoring seven runs in the final two innings to win their first six out of seven games in the Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League season.
“Coming from behind, you have to have a different mentality,” outfielder James Outman (Sacramento State), who hit the walk-off single on Monday, said. “You have to grind out at-bats. You can’t go up there looking to hit a home run. You have to play a little harder when you’re down.”
The deficit became more laborious when the pitchers were falling behind in the count, according to manager Sal Colangelo. With more balls than strikes, Loudoun hitters were able to drive their offensive cuts down in the strike zone.
Relief pitchers have given up a combined 11 runs in the previous two Big Train games, often resulting after the hitter’s had the advantage of the balls and strikes count.
“The pitchers have to work ahead (of the count),” Colangelo said. “(Loudoun) is a good hitting ball club. I don’t care who you play in baseball, if you don’t work ahead, it will fall in a positive count for a hitter.”
It is not the first time, however, that the Big Train have fell behind where it resulted in a victory. During the 2016 season, the Big Train came across three games where they trailed for almost the entire game and ended each of those games with a walk-off to steal the win from the opposition.
Michael Emodi (Creighton) said that along with being apart of those victories with the Big Train last season and on Monday, his college experience this past season provided him the opportunity to play from behind. There were a couple of games, he said, where the Bluejays had to grind their way through a plethora of runs until a walk-off gave them the finished result.
One of those games occurred at Shirley Povich Field against Georgetown this past season, putting up six runs in the top of the ninth.
“I definitely have seen it before,” Emodi said. “That just happens when you’re resilient, when you go out every day, compete and play in each at-bat.”
With Wednesday’s game against the Baltimore Redbirds, the Big Train will continue the mentality of competing for the entire game and take control of the early lead in the process. The Redbirds come in with a two-game winning streak after a rocky start to the season.
After facing the Big Train in the 2016 CRCBL championship, the Redbirds have three players hitting .300 or more this season while averaging seven hits per game as a team. With the Redbirds putting up a little more than three runs a game, the Big Train are focused on their execution as well as not taking their foot off the pedal until the third out of the last inning.
“You learn to never give in, never to give up,” Emodi said. “We were down six in the bottom of the eighth and ended up putting up enough (to get the win). We probably could have put up five or six more if we executed a little bit better.”
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