Two innings of a seven-inning doubleheader proved to be the difference for the Bethesda Big Train (21–7) in their 7–1 loss to the Metro SOCO Braves (12–15) in game one of a doubleheader Friday at Shirley Povich Field.
Connor Ball (Alabama) started the game. Despite a five-inning, no-run performance in his last outing on July 7 against the Silver Spring-Takoma Thunderbolts, Ball struggled in the top of the first. An RBI single and some defensive miscues allowed the Braves to jump out to a 3–0 lead.
But Ball settled down, allowing no runs in his next three innings. The southpaw from 'Bama finished with four innings pitched, three runs allowed and three strikeouts.
In the bottom of the first, DM Jefferson (Notre Dame) responded to the Braves' quick start, crushing a 2-1 fastball over the right field fence to cut the deficit to 3-1. It was his second home run of the season.
In the top of the third, the Big Train defense kept their deficit to two runs thanks to John Kramer (Ole Miss). With the bases loaded and just one out, Kramer caught a fly ball in right field and gunned down Brett Stallings at home plate trying to tag up to end the inning with a critical double play. However, the Big Train could not muster much offensively and the Braves blew the game open in the top of the fifth.
Kai Burdick (San Francisco) relieved Ball to start the inning and struggled with his control. After striking out Griffin Boone, Brett Stallings reached on an error by Big Train shortstop Emilien Pitre (Kentucky). Keegan Garis and Gerald Buchanan followed with walks and Myles Webb delivered the big blow, blasting a grand slam down the left field line to put the Braves up 7–1. The Braves would add another run in the eighth on a fielders choice to make it 8–1.
The Bethesda bats were kept quiet for the majority of the game, only putting up three hits on the day. Braves pitcher Max Moore pitched a seven-inning complete game, striking out six and allowing just one run. He kept the Big Train off balance all afternoon.
The two teams had a quick turnaround and started game two soon after 7:05 on Friday night. The recap will follow.
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