Big Train slays the Giants in 2024 Season Opener

by Lily Stewart

Davin Whitaker (East Carolina) approaches first base during the Big Train's opening night win over the Giants. 

Box Score

ROCKVILLE, Md. — The Bethesda Big Train started the 2024 Cal Ripken Sr. League on a high note, beating the Gaithersburg Giants 12-3 on our 25th opening night in front of a sold out crowd at Shirley Povich Field.

Bethesda came out of the station hot as starting pitcher Evan Smith (Maryland)  had two strikeouts and allowed no runs. Enter, the Big Train offense.  With two players on base, Matthew Westley (Virginia Tech) hit the Big Train's first home run of the season, sending the ball soaring over the left field fence. 

“I caught it out front and got it on the barrel. I wasn’t trying to do too much and got it out of the yard so that was nice,” said Westley.

The bats stayed hot into the second inning. Both Carter Newman (Virginia  Tech) and Cole Constable (Maryland) had singles that scored runs, adding two to the total.

After this, Constable was able to score after a collision between  Gaithersburg’s second baseman and Bethesda player Jordan Crosland  (Maryland) causing the throw to continue to the outfield.

With the lead extended to 6-0, the Big Train defense stepped up and kept the Train rolling. Smith added two more strikeouts, keeping the Giants off balance and scoreless through the third. 

In the home half of the third, the Big Train managed to load the bases and tack on four more runs. Constable took the walk allowing the runner on third to score, Crosland immediately followed with another walk, bringing home Jack Giacone (Cal State Fullerton). The Giants walked a third straight batter bringing Jaden Bastain (Jacksonville) home before Constable topped off the inning, scoring on a close play at the plate extending the lead to double digits at 10-0. 

“We just played baseball. We just said do what you do, stay within yourself, play the game, let the game come to you,” said Sal Colangelo head coach for the Big Train.

Smith continued his hot streak by striking out two more hitters, bringing his total to six through four innings.  However, Gaithersburg was able to score one run bringing the Big Train lead to nine. 

In the top of the fifth, Smith was relieved by Jack Robinson (Roanoke) after an outstanding start.

“It’s awesome. I mean I feel great. Again, you know the team got the win so it’s a great day,” said Smith.

Robinson earned his first strikeout of the 2024 campaign to help slow the Giants but was unable to prevent another run from scoring.  

The Big Train offense wasted no time in getting back on the board. Wesley stole home while Landon Franklin (Kentucky) stole second and then third. Newman walked, Constable singled bringing home Franklin, building Bethesda's lead to nine. 

Robinson finished strong with his final strikeout before passing the ball off to returning closer Max Martzolf (Florida Atlantic), who closed out the win with four strikeouts over two innings of work. 

The Big Train next take the field Monday, June 3rd at Shirley Povich field versus the Cropdusters at 7 p.m. 

Notes: On a gorgeous Saturday night, 681 fans packed Shirley Povich Field for the team’s 25th season Opening Night in a game that lasted 2 hours and 38 minutes… All fans received a 2024 Big Train schedule magnet courtesy of game night sponsor Lafayette Federal Credit Union as well as our 2024 25th Season Souvenir Program…. Game night sponsor Community Radiology Associates provided free t-shirts featuring our fabulous new art by Joseph Craig English to the first 250 fans that you can buy here. Game night sponsor Catalyst Hot Dogs gave out 100 free hot dogs in support of a fundraiser for our Community Heroes of the Night, Nourishing Bethesda. Big Train fans donated approximately $2,000 to support Nourishing Bethesda’s work feeding our neighbors in need…. The Strathmore Children’s Chorus performed a pre-game concert and sang the National Anthem…. Gaithersburg High School NJROTC Color Guard presented the flags and the Color Guard from Henderson Smith Edmonds American Legion Post 86 raised a new American Flag donated by Post 86…. Montgomery County Little League AA Cubs were the youth team of the night with coach Justin Hawkins throwing out a ceremonial first pitch and the Cubs taking the field with the Big Train players for the National Anthem…. Others taking part in our pre-game first pitch ceremony included Andrew Doepping of Lafayette Federal Credit Union, John Ross of Nourishing Bethesda and our special guests Maryland Delegate Marc Korman, Montgomery County Planning Board Chair Artie Harris, and Montgomery Parks Director Miti Figueredo... We welcomed new vendors Denizens Brewing Co. and Kona Ice of Potomac to Povich Field and our Home Run Cafe features items from Gregorio’s Trattoria, Chick fil-A, US Foods, and Coca-Cola.