Baseball / Cal Ripken League Playoff Preview

Cal Ripken League Playoff Preview

Date:  Source: Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League

By Matt Cohen 

The playoffs are set to start Thursday, July 25 with playoff games between the Braves and Aces as well as the Grays and Giants. It’s the culmination of a 40 game season (well, slightly less than that) where one team set itself above the rest. 

That team is the Bethesda Big Train. 

For the third straight year and the seventh time since 2009, the Big Train won the regular season championship. Bethesda finished with a 30-7 regular season record which includes a team-record 13 game win streak. 

The Big Train had a .291 team batting average this season and a 3.72 team ERA. Both lead the Ripken League. No other team has an ERA below five. Bethesda allowed 127 earned runs. The next closest team allowed 179. Bethesda scored 305 runs. The next closest team scored 247. 

It’s no surprise Bethesda is the favorite to win its fourth straight Ripken League championship. 

Bethesda hasn’t missed a beat since losing potential league MVP Jacob Southern (Jacksonville) with an elbow injury. Kobe Kato (Arizona) finished a record breaking summer setting new all-time league bests in batting average, on base percentage and walks. Gio Diaz (St. Mary’s) set a new CRCBL record for steals. Matt Thomas (William & Mary) finished the year with a league high 40 RBIs, and hit .345. 

The pitching has been just as strong with Dalton Ponce (St. Mary’s) and Ryan Okuda (Virginia Tech) leading the rotation and Chase Lee (Alabama) producing one of the most dominant seasons out of the bullpen the Ripken League has seen. Lee has a league-best 48 strikeouts, as the closer. 

Silver Spring-Takoma finished with the second best record during the regular season and look to be the biggest threat to the Big Train. The T-Bolts are the only other team besides Bethesda with a winning record in 2019. 

The T-Bolts are led by their offense, the second best in the league. Tony Gallo (Lehigh) has produced and MVP caliber season with a .364 batting average, seven home runs and 33 RBIs. 

Brady Pearre (High Point) has been one of the other biggest pieces in the lineup. Pearre was the only T-Bolt selected for the Southeast Collegiate Prospect Showcase. He’s hitting .338 this season as a table setter with 10 RBIs and seven steals.

Corey Rosier (Chipola College) has given the lineup an extra boost after he joined the team late in the summer. Rosier was the leader of the T-Bolts lineup in 2018. Ryan Roell (Frostburg State), though inconsistent, has brought a power bat to the T-Bolts lineup. He has 25 RBIs  and six home runs, every single one of them a no-doubter. 

Though the team with the most success against Bethesda is the D.C. Grays. The Grays are the fourth seed, dropping out of the third seed thanks to their final game being canceled. DC has beaten Bethesda three times this season.

All three wins have come in games where the DC pitching has quieted the Bethesda offense. The Big Train have scored no more than four runs in each of their three losses to the Grays. 

DC may be the most balanced team in the league other than Bethesda. It has the third best team batting average and third best team ERA. It’s a pitching staff led by Jake Lewis (Eastern Kentucky) and Cam Fowler (Nebraska-Omaha), both of whom have earned Pitcher of the Week honors this season. Reid McLaughlin (BYU) has led the staff before leaving to join the Cape Cod League. 

Herndon enters the playoffs as a surprise three seed after a red-hot end to the season, climbing up from last place. Jack Cone (William & Mary) has been a key part of the late success highlighted by his league leading 1.91 ERA. 

Gaithersburg and Alexandria are the bottom two teams in the league despite having arguably the biggest name schools on their roster. Cade Doughty (LSU) of the Giants and incoming Vanderbilt freshman Max Romero and TJ McKenzie of the Aces may be the best pro-prospects in the league. Scotty Morgan (George Mason) has the league lead with nine home runs and Jared Lyons (George Mason) has led the Aces pitching staff. The Aces are a six-seed capable of making noise. 

Bethesda is undoubtedly the favorite to win the 2019 title. Anything less would certainly go as an upset. 


Round 1 

No. 6 Aces over No. 3 Braves

No. 4 Grays over No. 5 Giants


No. 1 Big Train over No. 6 Aces

No. 4 Grays over No. 2 T-Bolts



No. 1 Big Train over No. 4 Grays