Baseball / Big Train bounce back, extend series to winner-take-all game three

Big Train bounce back, extend series to winner-take-all game three

Date:  Source: Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League

By Matt Cohen 

SILVER SPRING, Md. – The Bethesda Big Train took the field in a position it hadn’t been in 2019.

Bethesda had its back against the wall. It was a loss away from elimination.

And it had its back against the wall in the middle of the series’ second game. 

After jumping out to an early three run lead, the T-Bolts came back and tied the game as Brady Pearre (High Point) hit a two-run home run to the base of the firehouse beyond the left field wall.

Drew Hamrock (Virginia) watched that home run sail over his head in left field, and he heard the roar of a record T-Bolts crowd behind him. The lead was gone.

“There was a whole lot of urgency,” Hamrock said. “As soon as they hit that home run, I knew we had to come back, put together some more solid at bats. There was plenty of time left.”

As the summer reached its most important games, Hamrock has been at his best. In Bethesda’s final regular season game, Hamrock had two home runs, his only home runs of the summer. He had just three RBIs all summer before that night.

He carried that momentum into the playoffs.

In Bethesda’s two game sweep of Alexandria, Hamrock went 4-for-9 with four RBIs and three runs scored.

But with the score still tied at three in the top of the seventh inning and Kobe Kato (Arizona) standing on first base after being hit by a pitch, Hamrock thought about bunting to move Kato into scoring position as he stepped to the plate.

He did much more than move him over.

Instead, Hamrock shot a line drive into the deep right-center field gap. The ball rolled all the way to the near-400-foot wall as Kato flew around the bases, scoring without a play at the plate.

Hamrock’s triple gave Bethesda the lead, a lead it wouldn’t give back.

“It gave us a ton of confidence,” Hamrock said. “We’re going to come out tomorrow hungrier than ever. We want to take this thing home.”

With a 6-3 win, Bethesda extended its season another day, keeping the chance for four straight Ripken League titles alive.

Dalton Ponce had a strong start until Pearre and the T-Bolts got to him in the fifth inning. Ryan Metz (Virginia Tech), Elliot Zoellner (Maryland) and Chase Lee tossed 4.2 scoreless inning out of the bullpen.

Zoellner’s seventh inning escape ultimately saved Bethesda from another blown lead in the game. The T-Bolts loaded the bases with one out. Zoellner kept them scoreless. The Big Train reliever got a strikeout and soft ground ball to first to end the inning with no damage, the lead intact.

Bethesda extended its lead after Hamrock’s triple, with Hamrock scoring on a bunt from Keith Torres (Sacramento State). Matt Thomas (William & Mary) added a sixth and final run scoring on a wild pitch in the top of the ninth.

Game three will be played Wednesday night at Shirley Povich Field. The scheduled start of the game is 7 p.m.  However, with a drop-dead date to end the season after August 1 and the threat of inclement weather tomorrow, League officials have not ruled out the possibility of moving tomorrow’s first pitch to earlier in the evening.

Bethesda has the chance to complete the turnaround after dropping the series’ first game. Silver Spring is looking for its third title overall and first since 2006.