As Nicholas Del Prado (Florida Atlantic) walked off the mound after his four-inning, no runs, seven strikeout performance against the Metro SOCO Braves, his ERA had lowered to 1.00.
That low ERA earned him a spot in the Cal Ripken League All-Star Game, along with nine other Big Train players. Del Prado has shined on the mound in 18 innings of work this season. The righty from Miami, FL, has been earning his spot in the Big Train’s superb starting rotation outing after outing.
But in a rotation featuring Ryan Sanders (St.Mary's (CA)) & Brayden Jones (Ole Miss), Del Prado has been overshadowed. Despite that, he is quietly posting one of the best ERAs in the league this summer. When asked if Del Prado was a surprise in the rotation this year, head coach Sal Colangelo had just three words.
“Not at all.”
Bethesda’s starter helped the Big Train (18–5) defeat the Braves (9–14) 7-0 Friday afternoon on the road at South County High School in Lorton, VA.
Coming off a dominating 13-1 win over the Silver Spring-Takoma Thunderbolts Thursday night, the Big Train picked up where they left off the night before going after Braves starter Nick Lottchea. In the second, Clay Wargo (Louisiana Lafeyette) hit a moderately deep fly ball to left and Garrett Felix (Nicholls State) gambled and raced home from third, sliding in safely just ahead of the tag to earn Wargo the sac fly RBI and give the Train a 1-0 lead.
The team would add another run in the inning thanks to an error from Braves shortstop Griffin Boone, extending their lead to 2-0.
In the third, Warren Holzemer (Virginia Tech) lined a two-run double to left, scoring Emilien Pitre (Kentucky) and John Kramer (Ole Miss), making the score 4-0 and chasing Lottchea. Kramer was given his first start of the season after joining the Big Train on Thursday following Ole Miss' national championship last month.
The double was part of a strong day at the plate for Holzemer, who would finish the game 2-for-4. Clearly the mechanical adjustments he has made are paying dividends.
“I just started bending my knees more and getting short to the ball,” Holzemer said. “I’ve been early on fastballs lately so using the heavier bat has been working out.”
Later in the third, Felix scored on a wild pitch, putting the Big Train up 5-0.
While the Bethesda offense went quiet until the eighth inning, the pitching staff had all the run support they needed to cruise.
Jackson Ritchey (Virginia Tech) relieved Del Prado in the fifth inning. The Hokie was stellar in his two innings, striking out six, allowing two hits, and no runs.
“I felt comfortable out there,” Ritchey said. “I was trying to establish the zone. I got ahead of a lot of hitters and felt I could really attack.”
If it wasn't clear as to the game's outcome come the eighth inning, Trey Winget (St. Mary’s (CA)) left no doubt by ripping a two-run double to left center field, scoring Luke Nowak (East Carolina) and Wargo. Heading to the ninth, the scoreboard read 7-0 in favor of the green and white and Jordan Little (East Carolina) closed the door in his second inning of work, finishing his night by giving up one hit and striking out two, securing Bethesda's 18th win of the season and third in a row.
Saturday, the Big Train are set to host the Braves at 7 p.m. at Shirley Povich Field for a quick rematch as the season moves towards its competitive zenith. The Big Train aim to stay hot and roll into the playoffs as the undisputed number one seed.
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