SILVER SPRING — The Silver Spring-Takoma Thunderbolts finished the regular season with a record of 20-18, which was enough to finish in second place in the Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League standings behind the Bethesda Big Train.
After receiving a first-round bye, the Thunderbolts faced the D.C. Grays in the semifinals. However, the Silver Spring-Takoma ballclub had no problems sweeping the District squad in two games heading into the League Championship Series.
In Game 1 on July 26, the T-Bolts hosted the Grays, who beat the Gaithersburg Giants in a play-in game the night before. A fielding error by the Grays, however, allowed SS-T to escape Blair High School with a 2-1 victory and a 1-0 series lead.
The first run of the game came from Silver Spring-Takoma early in the bottom of the first, when outfielder Brady Pearre hit an infield single that resulted in outfielder DaVonn Griffin heading home.
But in the top of the fourth, D.C.’s designated hitter Robby Wacker tied the game up at 1-1, with a sac fly that drove in third baseman Blake Martin.
Solid pitching and fielding kept the game tied for the next five innings, but in the bottom of the ninth, the T-Bolts saw their chance for a walk-off.
First, second baseman Ian McMillan got walked. Then, on the next at-bat, McMillan stole second and advanced to third on a throwing error by Grays catcher Reece Yeargain. With two outs, outfielder Corey Rosier (top right) connected with an infield hit that turned out to be a fielding error by the Grays second baseman Justin Johnson, resulting in McMillan scoring the winning run.
“It’s huge,” said Rosier. “Obviously the first game of the playoffs, we want to come out and make a statement. Didn’t come out and put up as many runs as we wanted, but we got the job done. That felt huge for the boys.”
While Rosier went 1-for-2 with a walk, it was Pearre who had the best batting stats for Silver Spring-Takoma, as he went 2-for-3 with an RBI.
In Game Two of the series on July 27, the score was again only separated by one run as Takoma-Silver Spring made it past the Grays yet again to sweep the two-game series with a 10-9 win. McMillan once again had a big game, stealing three bases and adding three RBI’s to the Thunderbolts winning performance.
Their sweep of the Grays sets up a matchup of the No. 1 seed Big Train and the No. 2 seed Thunderbolts in the League Championship Series finals. The top two seeds are the only two teams in the league to finish the season above .500. The Big Train has owned their past seven matchups going 6-1 against the Thunderbolts.
Reporter Matthew Brown contributed to this report.