Big Train Cruise by Cropdusters 6-3 to Split Critical Doubleheader

by Jack McGuire



Olney, MD –  The Bethesda Big Train (21-11) soared over Cropdusters Baseball (21-13) 6-3, giving Bethesda another doubleheader split and sole possession of first place in the Cal Ripken Sr. Collegiate Baseball League North Division. It was a critical win during the regular season's last week and Bethesda thinks they improved in the second game by playing calmer.


“I think we're just a little more relaxed,” Jeffery Heard (Sacramento State) said. “Honestly, I think we kind of came in, made [the game] little bigger than we needed to.”


The Cropdusters strung hits together in the top of the first to score first off of Ryan Ertlschweiger (James Madison). Jack Canizzarro hit a single to right field to drive in Will Baumhofer and make the score 1-0. However, Bethesda limited the damage. In his first game at third base for the Big Train this season, Eddie Hacopian (Maryland) made a sprawling catch on a sharply hit line drive with two outs, stopping the Cropdusters from scoring multiple runs.


In the next half inning, the Green and White rebounded and took the lead. With Heard at third, Dixon Williams (East Carolina) stole second, but Cropdusters’ catcher RJ Rickabaugh made a bad throw, allowing Heard to scramble home with Bethesda’s first run. Zeb Ruddell (LSU) then blooped a single to right field to score Williams and give Bethesda a 2-1 lead. 


After a pair of walks and a perfectly executed Teddy Ruffner (UNC Wilmington) bunt, Bethesda threatened in the top of the third with runners at second and third and one out, but Cropdusters starter Jimmy Cook struck out both Heard and Jason Schiavone (James Madison) to keep the score 2-1. 


Fortunately, the Green and White were more successful in the top of the fourth. Clay Wargo (Louisiana Lafayette) extended the lead with a two-run double to left field and then came around to score on a double play ground ball, giving the Big Train a 5-1 lead.


The Cropdusters scratched across another run in the bottom half of the fourth courtesy of a Jimmy Kirk RBI double down the right field line, but Ertlschweiger got Ripken League batting leader Matt Miura to fly out to deep right field to strand runners at second and third and keep the score at 5-2.


Heard reached base for the third time in the game with an RBI single in the top of the seventh, making the score 6-2. Heard’s RBI raised his league-leading total to 36. Despite the accolade, Heard focuses on how he could have been better.

“I still would have liked to do a little bit more in some bigger situations, but I'm really thankful that I've just been blessed to be able to come out and do what I've done,” Heard said.

In his start for Bethesda, Ertslschweiger pitched strongly. Despite only striking out one Cropduster, Ertslschweiger did not allow an earned run in four innings. Austin Morris (Alabama) closed out the win for the Big Train with three dominant innings and two strikeouts. Morris only allowed one earned run after Will Baumhofer scored in the bottom of the seventh on a Matt Miura groundout. And at that point, the Big Train were happy to trade single runs for outs.

With the victory, Bethesda controls its own destiny in the Ripken League North Division. The Big Train have a one game lead over the Cropdusters and can guarantee a division title by winning three of their remaining four games.


“We kind of like having the control in our hands,” Heard said. “We got a really good team we're playing tomorrow twice, so we got to just focus on the first game and we gotta move forward from there.”


Bethesda has a tough task tomorrow with a doubleheader against the Alexandria Aces (26-3). The first game is set to start at 4:30 p.m. at Shirley Povich Field with the second to begin at approximately 7 p.m. Per league rules, both games will be seven innings in length.