BETHESDA—The Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League returned this weekend, as Bethesda Big Train, who won the championship last year, hosted the Gaithersburg Giants (19-21, third in North Division last year) in a seven-inning exhibition game on a warm night at Shirley Povich Field. The Giants won in a high-scoring affair 13-9.
In the top of the first inning, the game seemed to go Gaithersburg’s way as all nine batters were at the plate against Big Train pitcher John Cerretani. The at-bats included an RBI single by designated hitter Jake Huggins, which drove in a run scored by center fielder Daniel Cabrera. After that, a three-run shot to left field by first baseman Mark Fraser gave the Giants a 4-0 lead.
However, within three innings the Big Train tied it. Bethesda’s comeback began in the bottom of the first, as left fielder Matt Green had an RBI single which drove in center fielder Jacob Koos, who ran from second all the way home, cutting the deficit to 4-1. Then in the bottom of the third, catcher Logan Driscoll hit a single to score Koos, who originally hit a leadoff single and eventually stole second and third base. Then Green followed up with a two-run homer to tie the game at 4-4.
However, the Giants would answer back in the top of the fourth with back-to-back RBIs: a single from catcher Jake Bitzenhofer and a double from shortstop Patrick Causa to retake the lead, 6-4. Things got even more interesting in the following inning, as Gaithersburg went on to score five more runs, including a bases-clearing triple by Causa, the Giants’ lead to 11-4.
Giants manager Jeff Rabberman acknowledged the way his team’s offensive approach and how they played. “We had put a lot of at-bats together,” he said, “Whether it was our first pitch, two strikes, whatever the situation was, our approach was really good, top to bottom through all the counts.”
Still, The Big Train didn’t give up. In the bottom of the fifth, Driscoll hit a double which drove in shortstop Garrrett Kueber for a run, and in the bottom of the sixth, after the Giants scored one run in the first half of the inning, Koos reached on a fielder’s choice as infielder Justin Riemer scored, followed by two more runs to cut the deficit to 12-8.
The Giants added another run in the seventh inning while Bethesda attempted a rally with an RBI triple by designated hitter Ethan Semones, but it wasn’t enough as Gaithersburg relief pitcher Mitchell Mikes struck out Garrett Kueber to secure a victory for the visitors.
Gaithersburg’s bats really showed up as Cabrera was 3-for-5 at the plate with one run and two RBIs and Causa had four RBIs. Meanwhile, Bethesda played spectacular offensively as well, despite the loss. Driscoll went 2-for-4 at the plate with a run, three RBIs and a walk, while Green went 3-for-4 with three RBIs and a walk.
Rabberman addressed how his team can improve from last year’s 2016 season when they finished 19-21. “A lot of that has to be done because our team’s here,” he stated with a chuckle. “Offensively and defensively we were really good last year. We had a lot of injuries on the mound that ended some guys’ summers and that’s what really hurt us, I think. So we just have to stay healthy, pitching-wise.”
Gaithersburg and Bethesda will meet again at Povich Field in the regular season next Saturday, June 10th at 7:00 p.m.