Coming off their second loss of the season, the Big Train’s primary issue has become clear, middle-relief.
“It’s about what they do when they go out there,” assistant coach Tyler McKee said. “When they go out and don’t want to compete and don’t show that they’re giving some heart out there it’s frustrating.”
Entering Friday’s contest against the FCA Herndon Braves, Stephen Schoch (UMBC) and Nash Eppard (Bryant) have been studs. Schoch has 20 strikeouts over 10 innings and no earned runs. Eppard has been similarly dominant with 11 strikeouts over nine innings with an ERA of 2.00.
However, of the seven other Big Train pitchers who have pitched five or more innings, none has an ERA below 3.30. Manager Sal Colangelo notes some of the struggles may be from players being put into new relief positions.
“There’s some guys that come in that might not be the situation they’re used to relieving and now they’re in a spot where they have to relieve,” Manager Sal Colangelo said.
And despite the most obvious problems arising in relief, Big Train starters have struggled equally. Outside of Ken Waldichuk (St. Mary’s) and Blake Sanderson (FAU) the Big Train have had trouble getting their starters out of the first three innings.
“First group of guys got to come in and set the tone for the rest of the game,” McKee said. “Shut it down, get in a groove, set the strike zone, we’ve just got to get better at that.”
Ty Madrigal (St. Mary’s) will be the next Big Train pitcher to take the mound on Friday. The Elk Grove, CA native was solid in his first outing of the summer, going five innings with six strikeouts and seven hits.
“The mindset is pretty much just limit the pitches and just work ahead in the count,” Madrigal said. “That’s pretty big. If you get ahead in the count then you’ll just be out of the inning as soon as possible.”
The Braves’ Kyle Benjamin and Chandler Miller are both hitting over .400 and will pose the biggest threats to Madrigal and the Big Train pitching staff.
James Outman (Sacramento St.) and Logan Driscoll (George Mason) will pace the offense against the Braves as they are batting .458 and .385 respectively. Both homered in the loss to the Baltimore Dodgers Thursday night.
In their first matchup, a 6-1 Big Train victory, Sanderson got the win while Driscoll was 2-for-4 with two runs. Gaby Cruz (Bryant) added some help at the dish going 3-for-3. The game was also the season opener for both squads.
“Whenever we play the Braves it’s always competitive,” Colangelo said. “So we’ll get after it.”
First pitch from Shirley Povich field will be at 7 p.m.
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