BETHESDA – Four runs in the first inning set the tone for a resounding 12-0 win by the Bethesda Big Train over the Silver Spring-Takoma Thunderbolts on June 11. This early season match saw Bethesda get into their groove, while Silver Spring-Takoma struggled to find theirs.
It was a dominant defensive show by Bethesda, who allowed only five players to get on base through the entire nine innings that Silver Spring-Takoma played. Innings were quick and efficient, and if Bethesda’s pitching corps could not finish the job, the infield and outfield players were sure to catch an errant hit.
“I really attacked batters. I didn’t really get behind guys that much, threw a lot of strikes, threw pretty quick innings,” said Bethesda pitcher Ryan Okuda. Okuda pitched for six innings, walking only one player and allowing three hits.
Both teams are still in the stage of getting used to each other and getting used to the game, as they are a few weeks removed from their regular season commitments in college. Some teams are also incomplete; Bethesda, for one, is waiting for players to come in and played with a thinner roster than intended.
“We’re just short-staffed right now, position-wise; once everyone gets here and when everyone that is here is healthy, we’ll be pretty good,” said Bethesda Manager Sal Colangelo.
The Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League — the league both teams call home — is a shock to some players accustomed to playing in their own conferences in college.
“It’s good to have fresh arms,” said Silver Spring-Takoma Head Coach Doug Remer, referencing that some of his players did not play college ball this year. “But the flip side is that they’re not used to the smaller strike zone. This league is a higher-level league, so the strike zone is smaller, and we’re not used to throwing it right there, and I think it’s showing with the amount of walks we had earlier were killing us.”
Both teams will need to adjust quickly, but also have a healthy dose of spontaneity. Since the league was reduced from 10 teams to six, each team will see each other more often, giving them more chances to study their opponents, and their opponents to do the same.
Silver Spring-Takoma’s takeaway from this match was pitching. Three of the four runs in the first inning came off walks: the first run came off a slipped ball by catcher Tyler Murray.
All in all, five of Bethesda’s runs came off walks, three of them during pitcher Bryan Gilliam’s first inning on the mound.
Infielders Keith Torres III and Kobe Kato, outfielder Tate Soderstrom and pitcher Ryan Daugherty came home for Bethesda in the first inning. The first inning was so impressive that Bethesda scored all four runs without a hit, and did a full cycle of the batting order. Torres had a shot of creating more runs with the bases loaded and one out left, but struck out before more damage could have been done.
Three more runs were scored in the second inning, with a walk RBI only once this inning. Two singles by Kato and catcher Martin Vincelli-Simard pushed two teammates home.
The last RBI by walk came in the fourth inning, when Torres was walked on bases loaded to bring Soderstrom home.
Silver Spring-Takoma’s outfield reacted too slowly to pick up a grounded ball, giving outfielder Gio Diaz enough time to get home before his teammate, outfielder Tyler Villaroman, was tagged out to end the inning.
Scoring would end in the eighth inning, after a close call from Silver Spring-Takoma, which saw infielder Ian McMillan get to third base. Soderstrom hit it out of the park to bring Kato and him home, then two consecutive doubles brought home Daugherty.
“We had a great pitching performance by all four guys. It was a total team effort, and we did very well,” said Colangelo.