Tuesday, March 11, 2014 9:57 PM
Published on: Thursday, July 11, 2013
By Holden Wilen
GAITHERSBURG – The first-place Bethesda Big Train continued its dominance in Cal Ripken League competition Monday, chugging along to its fifth straight victory with an 8-2 road win against the Gaithersburg Giants.
A matchup of the top two teams from Montgomery County, the difference in the game came when the Big Train (17-4) put up six runs in the fifth inning.
Down 2-1, the Big Train began the inning by loading the bases with no outs thanks to the first of two hits by Ryne Willard in the inning, a Giants (15-11) fielding error and a hit by pitch. With starting pitcher Kyle Colgain struggling, Giants manager Jeff Rabberman decided to bring in sidearm relief pitcher Nick Riley to get out of the jam. This led to a moment Rabberman said was the pivotal point of the game.
Facing Big Train leftfielder Kyle Wernicki, Riley got ahead in the count with two strikes. His next pitch appeared to be behind Wernicki, but plate umpire Mike Burke ruled the pitch hit Wernicki’s heel, bringing in the tying run.
“I don’t agree with that call at all,” Rabberman said. “I don’t think he was hit, and it really changed the complexion of the game. If the count is 1-2 instead of the hit by pitch and a run scores, then maybe it is a different game. I do not know; I am not a fortune teller.”
The Big Train scored five more runs in the inning after an RBI walk and three base hits, including an RBI single by Willard, his second hit of the inning. Willard finished the game 3-5 with one RBI and one run scored. Designated hitter Ricky Santiago, who went 2-5, led the team with three RBIs.
Willard came into the game batting .233. Not hitting as well as he would like, Willard said he worked with assistant coach Mario Porto before the game on adjusting his swing by making sure he kept his hands up because they were getting to low.
Big Train manager Sal Colangelo said the Giants scare him every time his team has to face them. After giving up the lead early, he said his team pulled out the win because the players did not get rattled and made adjustments at the plate.
“These guys between the lines just do not quit,” Colangelo said. “They could be down but they do not get rattled. They just want to play and have fun and they want to win and enjoy their experience here.”
Starting pitcher Zach Morris picked up his second win of the season for the Big Train after going five innings, giving up two runs (one earned) and notching four strikeouts.
For the Giants, the loss is the team’s second straight. For the team to get back on track, Rabberman said, the pitchers need to throw strikes and the fielders need to not commit errors. The Giants finished Monday’s game with two errors, while the pitching staff walked five batters and hit five others.
The Big Train came into the game ranked sixth nationally by Perfect Game USA. Despite the ranking and its first-place standing in the Cal Ripken League, Colangelo said he does not talk about rankings with his team during the season. Rather, he wants his team to approach the season one game at a time. Willard said, however, he wants the Big Train to achieve a number one ranking.
“We just need to keep winning,” he said.