BETHESDA—Game One of the Cal Ripken League Championship series took place Thursday night as the top-seeded Bethesda Big Train, appearing in their ninth consecutive finals, hosted the number two-seeded Baltimore Redbirds. The Big Train would dominate for the majority of the game as they crushed the Redbirds 14-3 at Shirley Povich Field to take a 1-0 series lead.
In the top of the first, though, things looked bright for Baltimore when third baseman Andy Maguire hit a sacrifice fly, as shortstop AJ Lee was able to avoid the tag by Bethesda catcher Justin Morris on his way to home plate, as the Redbirds took an early 1-0 lead.
The bottom of the first is when the fun began. Big Train star outfielder James Outman doubled off the center field wall to drive in a run scored by outfielder Zach Jancarski that tied the game at 1-1. That followed with shortstop Luke Heyer hitting a sac fly to right field to score outfielder Jordan Sergent, which put Bethesda up 2-1.
The scoring continued in the second inning, when Jancarski advanced to first on an error and shortstop Garrett Kueber made it home. Then, with the bases loaded, first baseman Kevin Milam was walked by Baltimore pitcher Greer Holston, which allowed Justin Morris to score and extend the Big Train’s lead to 4-1.
Bethesda scored two runs in a row during the third inning. In the bottom of the third, designated hitter Jacob Koos hit an RBI single to knock in a run scored by Kueber. Later, Morris crossed home plate thanks to a bases-loaded walk of Sergent. At the close of the third inning, Bethesda led 6-1.
The Big Train scored four runs in the bottom of the fifth. Milam hit a solo home run to right center field, and second baseman Vinny Esposito jacked a three-run homer to left field to extend Bethesda’s lead to 10-1.
The Redbirds managed to score just two more runs. Leading off the sixth inning, outfielder Randy Bednar launched a home run to left field.
Right after the homer, though, the game had to be delayed due to lightning. The lightning delay lasted 45 minutes, from 8:45 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
After the delay, first baseman Cole Zabowski scored Baltimore’s final run on a wild pitch to cut the deficit to 10-3.
The Big Train scored their final four runs in the bottom of the eighth. Morris headed home on a wild pitch, then Sergent hit an RBI single to score Jancarski. Milam singled to drive in Sergent, and Milam scored on a bases-loaded walk.
“They can hit,” Bethesda manager Sal Colangelo said.
On the other side of things, Redbirds manager Larry Sheets didn’t feel good about the loss. “We didn’t play well,” he said. “When you look out there and you see four errors, probably count it for six or seven runs, so whether you lose 4-3 or 14-3 it doesn’t matter.”
Sheets still hopes that his team can turn it around in Game Two and force a potential Game Three. “That’s gonna be our objective. We’ll see what happens,” he said.