2019 CRCBL Pitcher of the Year -- Chase Lee
Date: Aug 13, 2019
By Matt Cohen
BETHESDA -- Gio Diaz (Big Train, St. Mary’s) didn’t take long to start breaking records.
On June 30, Diaz set the Big Train record for stolen bases in a single season with 27. It took Diaz just 23 games to set the record.
On July 9, Diaz set the Cal Ripken League record for stolen bases with 32. He broke the record with 10 games left to play in the regular season.
And on July 10, Diaz added another accolade.
Diaz was selected to the 2019 Maryland All-Star team for the Cal Ripken League. He was put as the leadoff hitter in the starting lineup. Diaz’s performance stood alone among the rest of the best players in the CRCBL as his team won 12-3 over the DC/Virginia All-Stars.
He went four-for-six with three runs and four RBIs. He had a home run, two doubles and finished a triple shy of the cycle. Diaz’s four RBIs led the game and he was the only player with a home run.
It was a performance that made him the clear pick for the game’s MVP.
“To be honest I really wanted to win the MVP,” Diaz said. “I wanted to win it and I wanted to have a really good performance against the best players in the league. My expectation was to have the best game possible and thankfully it happened.”
Diaz’s MVP night started right from the first pitch in the bottom of the first inning. Diaz doubled to lead off the inning, and quickly scored when the next batter, Brandon Greim (Giants, San Francisco) singled.
That was the first of 12 unanswered runs for the Maryland All-Stars.
In the first five innings Diaz, Greim and Cade Doughty (Giants, LSU) all had three hits. Greim was three-for-four with three RBIs and two runs scored. Doughty was three-for-four with two RBIs and one run scored.
The Maryland All-Star pitchers carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning. Chase Lee (Big Train, Alabama), Luke Rettig (T-Bolts, Lehigh), Jack Weeks (Big Train, Georgetown), Tyler Dyball (T-Bolts, Hawaii) and Nick Parker (Giants, Coastal Carolina) combined for the five full innings of no-hit baseball. Rettig went on to be the winning pitcher.
The Virginia/DC All Stars got their first offense thanks to two players on the Braves. Jordan Ebersole (Braves, VMI) got the first hit of the game for his team. Marcos Pujols (Braves, Dayton) doubled off the very top of the 20-foot center field wall to drive in Ebersole and score the first run. Ryan M. Davis (Braves, Georgetown) added two more RBIs on his own college home field as DC/Virginia cut the deficit to 12-3 in the seventh inning.
Jack Nathan (Braves, High Point), Austin Demming (Grays, BYU) and Carson McClure (Braves, Trevecca Nazarene) combined to keep the Maryland All-Stars scoreless after the fourth inning.
Diaz knew the history of success Bethesda has had before he flew across the country to join the team. He had gotten to talk to his St. Mary’s teammates that were former Big Train players before coming.
But he didn’t have records in mind, at least not at first.
“I always knew I could steal bags and steal them at a high percentage,” Diaz said. “But I didn’t even know about the record. I didn’t know what was the number to reach, I just kept trying to steal as many bags when I had the opportunity to do that. I had a goal set before coming here, and I obviously broke that.”
Diaz didn’t know he’d broken the Ripken League’s record until an interview after the game.
He now has 33 stolen bases on the season. He broke the record on a night where he had three hits including two doubles and four RBIs. He had two stolen bases.
A night later at the All-Star Game he fulfilled the goal he had set for himself, he had become the MVP.
And he didn’t have to steal a base to do it.