Big Train Sweep Aces, Win Ninth Cal Ripken League Title

by Staff

Big Train’s starting pitcher Josh Grosz (East Carolina) encapsulated his dominant performance with a clutch strikeout in the sixth inning. The Aces put the pressure on the Big Train for the first time that evening by loading the bases, prompting a mound visit from pitching coach Craig Lopez.

Taking his time and striking out the Aces' JJ Gonzalez for out number three, Grosz rounded out a stellar performance on the mound. He finished the night with nine strikeouts, allowing just five hits across six shutout innings, leading the Big Train to 4-0 victory and a two-game sweep over the Alexandria Aces in the Cal Ripken League Championship Series (LCS). This is the Big Train's league-best fifth consecutive title and ninth CRCBL title in total.

Coming off a dominant 7-2 win over the Aces at home in Game 1 of the LCS, the Bethesda Big Train hit the road for Game 2. 

After a quick top of the first, Alexandria threatened early. Capitalizing on two hits and an error by the Big Train, the Aces put runners on first and second. Running up on a grounder up the middle, center fielder Jack Cone (William & Mary) threw a bullet to catcher Danny Neri (Notre Dame), who tagged the Aces runner out at home to end the inning and keep the game scoreless.

In the second, singles from Kemp Alderman (Ole Miss) and Rocco Peppi (Long Beach State) put two runners on base. Another single from Trevor Doyle (Sacramento State) and an error by the Aces second baseman gave Alderman a chance to come home. Though Alderman was tagged out, the Aces catcher carelessly handled the ball, allowing Peppi to race home and tally Big Train’s first run of the game. 

With the Big Train back up at bat in the top of the third, another error by the Aces put Darius Foster (San Francisco) on first base. After Cone walked and Foster moved to third on a wild pitch and a passed ball, a Grant Knipp (Campbell) sacrifice fly drove Foster home for run number two. Stepping up to the plate next, Alderman cranked the first pitch he saw over the left field fence for a two-run homer. Stalling the Aces in the bottom half, Big Train led 4-0 through three full frames.

The Aces managed to find their defense after three, holding the Train to no runs through the next three innings. Within the same stretch, Grosz dominated on the mound and kept Bethesda’s shutout hopes alive. 

Kemp Alderman (Ole Miss) won the LCS Most Outstanding Player Award after going 3-for-8 with a homer and three RBIs in the series. 

Coming in for Grosz in the top of the seventh, pitcher Ryan Daugherty (Saint Mary’s CA) finished off the ballgame with a solid showing on the mound. Facing 10 batters and striking out four of them, Daugherty allowed no runs and just a single baserunner on a walk. The second-year Big Train left-hander completed the shutout and took home an LCS Championship for his efforts. 

Alderman went 2-for-4 at the plate with one run and two RBIs coming off a home run. For the series, he went 3-for-8 with a home run and three RBIs to capture the LCS Most Outstanding Player award. 

The Big Train have now won a Cal Ripken League in every season since 2016.