Big Train Players Performing in 2024 College Baseball – Part I

by Bill Hickman

This article will take a glimpse of college baseball around the nation in its early stages this year and review how some of our former players are doing.   In a subsequent article, we’ll review the records of players who are newly joining the Big Train for the 2024 summer season.

First, we’ll take a look at the records of two former Big Train players from many years ago who are now serving as head baseball coaches in colleges.  Rich Wallace played three different positions for the Big Train during the 2000 season – catcher, third base and first base.  He now leads the University of Central Florida Knights.  His team’s record stands at a nice 15-6 mark.  Matt Swope was Rich’s teammate on that 2000 Bethesda squad.  Matt played the outfield.  He is in his first year as head coach of the Maryland Terrapins, although he was previously their director of baseball operations for a number of years.  Under Matt, the Terps have an 19-6 record.

The top three Maryland hitters are all players from the 2023 Big Train team.  They are Jacob Orr (.369, 24 hits, 22 runs scored, in 17 games), Eddie Hacopian (.360, 31 hits, 22 runs scored, 20 RBI, in 20 games), and Chris Hacopian (.352, 32 hits, 24 runs scored, 22 RBI, in 23 games).  Eddie and Chris are sons of Derek Hacopian, who was the Big Train’s first manager (1999-2004).

Another Terp who is having success this year is Andrew Johnson (BT 2022), a lefty hurler.  He has yielded no earned runs in 7.2 innings pitched.

Grant Knipp (BT 2021), now with Campbell, is second in the nation in homers and tied for second in RBI.  He’s hitting .455, with 15 HR and 40 RBI in just 22 games.  He has 35 hits and has scored 37 runs.  If Knipp hasn’t been doing enough with the bat for Campbell University, he also has two saves and a 1.59 ERA in 5.2 innings pitched.

Carter Cunningham (BT 2023) is going gangbusters for East Carolina.  He’s hitting .422 with 6 homers and 27 RBI in 22 games. 

Rocco Peppi (BT 2021), now at Fresno State, is batting .361 with 30 hits in 22 games.  He has driven in 25 runs.

Jeffery Heard (BT 2023) has transferred out to the Oregon Ducks where he is batting .350 with 28 hits in 22 games.  He has 15 RBI and 15 runs scored.

Over at Virginia Tech, Christian Martin (BT 2021) is having an impressive year.  He is hitting .346 with 27 hits and 31 runs scored in only 22 games.

Emilien Pitre, who showed what he could do with a bat when he was with Big Train in 2022, is hitting .337 with 32 hits, 26 RBI, and 25 runs scored for the University of Kentucky.

Peyton Schulze (BT 2022) has transferred to the University of California at Berkeley and is faring well on the ballfield with a .338 batting average.  He has 27 hits in 20 games.  He has slugged four homers and has drive in 19 runs.

Jason Schiavone (BT 2022-23), who was the MVP of the Ripken League playoffs last year, has been showing power for James Madison University.  He is hitting .316 with 25 hits, six home runs, and 20 RBI in 24 games.

T.J. Rogers (BT 2022) is hitting .324 with 23 hits in 22 games for the University of San Francisco.

Nick DiLisi (BT 2023), who has transferred to Jacksonville, hasn’t played in as many games as these other players, but he has a nice record with a .344 batting average, 11 hits and eight RBI in 10 games.

Garrett Felix (BT 2022) is performing well for Nicholls State.  He’s hitting .308 with 28 hits in 24 games and he has driven in 21 runs.

Likewise, Ryley Johnson (BT 2021) is contributing to his East Carolina team.  He is batting .308 with 24 hits and 24 runs scored in 22 games.

A third batter hitting .308 is Lucas Phelps (BT 2023).  Now playing for St. Johns River State College, he has 32 hits in 34 games with 35 runs scored and 25 RBI.

Brady Gumpf (BT 2021) is batting .303 with 15 RBI in 22 games for Notre Dame.

Colton Hegwood (BT 2022) is now with Jones College, where he is hitting .275 with 30 hits and 33 runs scored in 30 games.

Pitcher Griffin Stieg (BT 2023) has had six starts for Virginia Tech. He is 3-0 with a 3.03 ERA in 29.2 innings pitched.

Brandon Cassedy (BT 2023) is another hurler who has registered six starts.  His Christopher Newport record is 4-1 with a 2.19 ERA in 37 innings.

Drew Lafferty (BT 2023) has had five starts for the University of Kentucky.  He is 1-0 with a 3.24 ERA in 16.2 innings pitched.

Brandon Clarke (BT 2023) has transferred to the State College of Florida.  He has taken the mound in nine starts.  His record is 5-2 with a 4.20 ERA in 46.2 innings pitched.

Everett Catlett (BT 2021) has had five starts plus a couple of relief appearances for Georgetown.  His record is 3-0 with one save and a 3.86 ERA in 32.2 innings pitched.

Jack Braley (BT 2021) has been Christopher Newport’s starter in five games.  His record is 2-0 with a 3.55 ERA in 25.1 innings pitched.

Jack Robinson (BT 2023) has been flawless in relief in that he has yielded no earned runs.  He has an 0-0 record with one save.  He has pitched five innings in five appearances.

Davion Hickson (BT 2023), who is now with Rice, has a record of 1-0, with four saves and a 1.27 ERA in 21.1 innings pitched.

Another transferee is Skyler Hutto (BT 2023), who currently hurls for Shelton State Community College.  His record is 1-0, one save, a 1.69 ERA, in 16 innings pitched.

Marcus Dux (BT 2022), who has transferred to Christopher Newport, has a record of 0-0, with a 2.16 ERA in 8.1 innings pitched.

Jordan Little (BT 2022), who has transferred to Virginia Tech, has four saves and a 2.25 ERA in eight innings pitched.

Cooper Rons (BT 2021), who has made a move within California to Sacramento State University, has a record of 3-1 with a 2.60 ERA in 17.1 innings pitched.  He has struck out 22 while walking only seven.

This concludes a review of some of the better records observed this spring among former Big Train players.  The college season is far from over, and our hopes are high that other alumni will come through with more spectacular records as the spring progresses.