WASHINGTON, D.C. – What started off as a slow baseball match turned into a tense showdown between a Bethesda Big Train team looking to keep a one-run lead and a D.C. Grays squad trying to finish their comeback bid with a win or push the game into extra innings.
Bethesda held off a surging Greys’ squad for the last two innings and won 6-5 on June 8. While the score indicates that it was a tight game, it actually was defined by excellent pitching and fielding, interrupted by fleeting moments of luck and mistakes.
“I know they’re winners, perennial champions, but it’s no big deal,” said D.C. Grays Head Coach Reggie Terry. “We just made a lot of errors, a lot of mental mistakes; we came up a little short.”
A first-inning single by outfielder Tate Soderstrom brought home infielder Gio Diaz and put Bethesda on top with their first run. A double play in the same inning by Bethesda quickly dashed D.C.’s hopes of tying it up early.
Three scoreless innings went by as both teams could not find a way to get a runner home. Bethesda came close in the fourth inning but ended with a runner on third and first base. From the second to fourth innings, D.C. managed only one hit.
In the fifth inning, Bethesda pulled away and took advantage of every mistake that D.C. made, to great effect. A botched catch by D.C. catcher Reece Yeargain allowed Bethesda infielder Keith Torres III to score Bethesda’s second run.
A double by Bethesda outfielder Christian Jayne brought home catcher Cade Hunter for the third run, and then infielder Kobe Kato followed up with a single to bring home catcher Martin Vincelli-Simard. Jayne scored a run off of Soderstrom’s out and Kato made Bethesda’s sixth and final run when outfielder Matt Thomas hit a single.
An impactful inning for Bethesda, it was made possible by compounded D.C. errors: An outfield that was slow to react and near misses were magnified when Bethesda sought to run as far as possible on every hit. Kato’s base stealing did not help D.C. either.
“He’s definitely one of the best, without question. Him and Gio (Diaz) set the tone and have that spark that we need,” said Bethesda Head Coach Sal Colangelo.
D.C. started on the comeback path when outfielder Jordan Wiley scored a run off of a single by infielder Josh Congdon in the fifth inning. With four innings left to play, the game was still up for grabs by either team: D.C. would have to minimize errors drastically and improve their hitting to catch up.
“They’ve got some hitters on their team. We know that they can claw their way back in the game; we know that we can’t take at-bats off,” said Kato.
The pitching by Ned Ruffin was exactly what D.C. needed for the three innings he played after Bethesda’s five-run fifth inning. Ruffin allowed only one walk in his time at the plate and, together with pitcher Magnus Ellerts who switched him out in the ninth, Bethesda was held to only two walks, no hits and no runs in the last four innings.
An out-of-the-park home run by Wiley in the sixth inning scored three runs, as Yeargain and infielder Justin Johnson were brought home as well. Now down by two with three innings left, D.C. had time to at least equalize.
Congdon scored a run off of outfielder Matt Day’s out in the seventh inning, their fifth and last of the game. In the last two innings, D.C. was kept to a walk and a hit, ending their comeback run.