BETHESDA — The Bethesda Big Train had already clinched home-field advantage with the best record in the 2019 Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League season, as the team looks to win another championship.
However, on July 23, the Big Train hosted a motivated D.C. Grays, who were playing for a higher positioning for the playoffs. The District squad got the job done, spoiling the Big Train’s season finale with an 8-4 victory at Shirley Povich Field.
“It is kind of a rest day,” said Big Train shortstop Keith Torres III. “We did clinch, but we still want to play every game hard.”
The Grays got on the board early in the top of the first, thanks to an RBI double by first baseman Austin Deming, who drove outfielder Noah Searcy home and advanced to third base off of an error.
“It was a good start,” said Deming. “We had two quick outs in the first, so it was good to come out with just one run in the first.”
With D.C. leading 2-0, the Big Train finally got things going in the bottom of the second when outfielder Darius Foster hit a sac fly to left, which sent Torres home to cut the deficit to 2-1.
But it proved to be the Grays’ night, because, in the top of the third, Deming hit a two-run homer to deep-left center field to put the visitors up 4-1.
“It’s always good to get wins no matter who we’re playing,” said Deming. “We normally play them pretty good at their place, so it was good to come out with the win here.”
D.C. added three more runs the very next inning, thanks to a bases-loaded walk that resulted in catcher Reece Yeargain scoring, as well as Johnson hitting a RBI single that drove in second baseman Bryan Call and outfielder Matthew Day, to extend the lead to 7-1.
The very last run scored by the Grays came the next inning, when third baseman Joshua Congdon made his way from third to home on a wild pitch.
“It’s just a good finish,” said D.C. Manager Reggie Terry, “and a start, actually, to the playoffs, the tournament.”
Bethesda did add a few more runs later in the game. In the bottom of the seventh, third baseman Kobe Kato hit an RBI single, which drove in second baseman Gio Diaz, while in the bottom of the eighth, Diaz advanced to first on an error, leading Torres and designated hitter Tate Soderstrom to score unanswered runs.
“I thought I did well today,” said Kato. “I was seeing the ball well. I was just trying to stick to my approach. Some balls I hit went right to guys. Can’t do anything about that, I’m just trying to control what I can control.”
The Big Train may have lost their regular season finale, but, with a record of 29-7 and one more game to go, the team feels very confident about their chance at yet another Cal Ripken League title.
“I think we’ve got a good chance,” said Torres. “We’ve got a good pitching staff; we’ve got a lot of good hitters, and a lot of good base runners. Well-rounded team, I think.”
However, Bethesda will have to enter the playoffs without one of their best players, Jacob Southern, the team’s second-year catcher who injured his elbow in the Prospects Showcase in North Carolina.
“We’ve got a good lineup, one through nine,” said Kato. “If we play our best, we’re going to do really well.”
Kato and Torres are two first-year players who say they have really enjoyed their time playing in the Cal Ripken League.
“I think the season went well,” said Torres. “Overall, I think everyone learned about the game they have never experienced, and it took us to another level throughout this whole summer.”