Ashburn, VA-- While the majority of the team was on their way to Rock Ridge High School for the Big Train’s game against the Loudoun Riverdogs, the gate to Shirley Povich Field was open with the only the sound being the pop of baseball bats.
Two hours before the Big Train’s scheduled batting practice at Rock Ridge High School, Michael Emodi (Creighton), Vinny Esposito (Sacramento State) and James Outman (Sacramento State) were back in Bethesda getting extra swings in the batting cage.
The extra swings paid off, as Outman led the Big Train’s offensive charge combining for six hits and five RBI in Sunday’s doubleheader while Esposito obtained three hits and four RBI to guide the Big Train to a pair of double digit wins.
“It definitely feels better when you can get that extra practice in,” It definitely feels better when you can work with other guys, see what they think about hitting and just get better. It’s not like a grind or anything, it’s fun. Hitting is fun.”
After breaking his eight-game hitting streak on Saturday against Rockville, Outman said that he didn’t feel like he was at his best. The Redwood City, California native also said that he felt getting more batting practice in was something that needed to get done.
Outman quickly got back on track offensively, claiming one fifth of the Big Train’s team hits in game one and capping off the night with his third home run of the season to score three more runs in game two.
“Hitting is pretty fun, hitting in (batting practice) is pretty fun,” Outman said. “Yesterday, I felt pretty off swinging and I just wanted to go in (the cage) and feel good, feel like I was catching the barrel more. So I went in there, got a few swings, felt good and I was hoping I could bring that into the game today.”
Heading into the doubleheader hitting .233, Esposito started getting in the cage with Outman and Emodi for extra repetitions as soon as he arrived in Bethesda. The 2016 Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League MVP said that motivation to get his batting average up factored in the decision to arrive at work earlier than others.
With the Big Train hanging on to a one-run lead in the second game of the evening, the Granite Bay, California native nailed a fly ball over the fence immediately after Outman’s RBI double in the top of the fifth inning that gave the Big Train insurance with a four-run advantage.
“Every time we get there early and we’re taking (batting practice), it’s all about hitting the ball hard and trying to hit it where they’re not,” Esposito said. “(It’s about) getting the (batting) average up, trying to score runs. That’s pretty much it.”
The Big Train surged offensively from the start of game one and never gave up their lead. Bethesda added seven runs to their 6-0 lead in the top of the fourth inning, highlighted by a grand slam home run from Justin Morris (Maryland), his first hit in the 2017 season.
Every player in the Big Train’s batting order obtained at least one hit in game one, stringing together 20 team hits for 14 runs. After falling behind by one run after the second inning, the Big Train used three innings to repeat their offensive attack.
Bethesda used 15 hits to go on a 10-0 scoring run through three innings, with Matt Green (Saint Mary’s) hitting 4-for-4 with an RBI and Garrett Kueber (Austin Peay State) going 3-for-4 at the plate while scoring two runs.
“The more reps that they can get, the better it is for everybody,” assistant coach Eric Williams said. “My high school sophomore English teacher said, ‘Repetition is the mother of studies.’ It’s definitely important in this game because hitting a baseball is the hardest thing to do in the sport.
“A lot of guys get as many swings as they can and lots of times during (batting practice), we like to do stuff besides just hit the ball. We want them to execute, we want them to bunt, we want them to hit the ball where it’s pitched.”
The Big Train’s two wins move them to 10-3 on the season and give them an undefeated record on the road. Bethesda continues their streak of road games with a matchup against the Silver Spring-Takoma Thunderbolts at Montgomery Blair High School on Monday at 7 p.m.
Check out Sunday's doubleheader highlights, featuring broadcasters PJ Glasser and Max Wolpoff!
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