On the heels of a 15-inning marathon victory over the Aces, the Big Train pulled off another thrilling win in extras Friday night, this time against the D.C. Grays.
If these last two games are any indication, the Big Train sure have a flair for the dramatic. On Thursday, the Big Train mounted a two out rally when the would-be game-ending third strike was dropped. On Friday, the Big Train and Grays traded blows in extras before the Big Train finally closed it out in the 11th by a score of 9-8.
“A good team win today,” infielder Garret Kueber (Austin Peay State) said. “Pitchers competed, we all hit, and it was fun.”
Through the seventh-inning stretch, the game was shaping up to be an easy victory for the Big Train. Bethesda was up, 6-1, on first-inning doubles from Luke Heyer (Kentucky) and Vinny Esposito (Sacramento State), a second-inning Logan Driscoll (George Mason) single, a fifth-inning James Outman (Sacramento State) sacrifice fly, and a sixth-inning two-run shot by Matt Green (St. Mary’s), his first of the year.
The Grays rallied to score five runs in the seventh and eighth innings, then nearly won it in the ninth. Back-to-back singles put runners on the corners with no outs, but Cam Vassar (James Madison) channeled his nerves of steel and struck out the next batter. After an intentional walk to load the bases and set up forceouts at any base, Vassar induced a game-saving 1-2-3 double play.
In Thursday’s contest against the Aces, no runs were scored between the seventh and 15th innings. On Friday, though, the Big Train got back in business in the tenth, putting up two runs on a big Keuber double to take an 8-6 lead.
“It was fun being able to contribute to the win,” Kueber said.
The Grays would not go down quietly, and, down to their last strike, managed to tie the game up on a two-run shot in the bottom of the frame.
Displaying the never-quit attitude that has netted them multiple unlikely comebacks this season, the Big Train stepped up in the 11th, taking the lead once again on a Driscoll solo shot. Jordan Sergent (High Point), an outfielder called upon to pitch, closed the game out to get the win and the save.
“I was just trying to get a pitch I could handle,” Driscoll said of his homer. “[These last two wins] show how mentally and physically tough we are.”
With the rainout of the Aces doubleheader, the Big Train win gave them sole possession of first place in the South Division. With Saturday and Sunday off due to a showcase in North Carolina, which many Big Train players will be attending, the rest of the squad get a well-deserved break after playing 40 innings of baseball in the last three days. On Monday, Bethesda will enter the last week of the regular season refreshed and looking to lock up the division title.
For manager Sal Colangelo, the key to achieving that is the same one that has worked so well for his club these past couple of days.
“Take it one game at a time,” he said.
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