Big Train Dominate Thunderbolts Again, Win 12-0 in 7

by Jack McGuire

Bethesda, MD – After back-to-back losses, the Bethesda Big Train righted the ship with a 12-0 win over the Thunderbolts on June 10. The game ended after seven innings because of the league mercy rule, giving the Big Train their second mercy rule victory against the Thunderbolts in the past week. 

Overall, Big Train players think this game shows their resilience and ability to bounce back after defeat.

“I think, you know, last couple of games [we] just came out a little flat, you know, just didn't play our best baseball,” said left fielder Teddy Ruffner (UNC Wilmington). “How you bounce back is really important, so I'm glad that we were able to do that tonight.”

Big Train pitchers dominated on the night. Ryan Ertlschweiger (James Madison) started for Bethesda and twirled four hitless innings while striking out six. Davion Hickson (Florida State) came in relief of Ertlschweiger and was just as effective. Hickson pitched three scoreless innings and struck out three. However, Thunderbolts left fielder Michael Heckman hit an infield single off Hickson, preventing the Big Train staff from throwing a combined no-hitter. 


The Big Train’s first runs came in the bottom of the second. With the bases loaded and no outs, Connor Rasmussen (East Carolina) drove in Ruffner on a fielder’s choice. With Rasmussen at first, Bethesda executed a double steal. Rasmussen stole first base, and after Thunderbolts catcher Erik Ridner threw the ball to second, Jack Guerrero (UNC Wilmington) sprinted home, making the game 2-0. 


Bethesda added to their lead in the bottom of the third after Thunderbolts starter Brayden Stutzman struggled to throw strikes. With the bases loaded, Stutzman hit Zeb Ruddell (LSU), allowing the Big Train to extend their lead to 3-0. 


Stutzman pitched admirably for the Thunderbolts, striking out six and allowing three runs in four innings of work, but after Silver Spring - Takoma pulled him, the Big Train offense exploded.


In the bottom of the fifth, the Green and White batted around and scored seven runs. In the huge inning, Ruffner and Clay Wargo (Louisiana Lafayette) both ripped two-run doubles. 


The game ended in the bottom of the seventh inning after Lucas Phelps (Florida Atlantic) hit what was technically a walk-off single. Phelps, coming off the bench, hit a two-out bloop over the second baseman’s head, which drove in two runs and triggered the league mercy rule with the Big Train up 12-0. 


In the offensive explosion, Ruffner excelled for Bethesda. Ruffner had three hits, two doubles and two RBIs. After today’s game, Ruffner is third in the league in RBIs with seven, trailing his teammate Jeffrey Heard (Sacramento State) and Zane Gross of the Thunderbolts, who both have eight. 


“Every time I went in the box, I just kept, you know, saying kind of under my breath like hit it hard, hit it hard,” Ruffner said. “It's easy to kind of overthink things in the box, but today I just tried to simplify it and, you know, you hit the ball hard put in play good things can happen.” 


The Big Train travels into the heart of DC on Sunday to the Washington National Youth Academy tomorrow to play the D.C. Grays at 5:00 p.m. in the hopes of starting another winning streak.