BETHESDA — On a sometimes rainy Saturday night at Shirley Povich Field in a game that involved quality pitching and defense on both sides, the Bethesda Big Train got the runs they needed for a 4-1 victory over the Rockville Express.
Bethesda got things going in the bottom of the first inning when outfielder Justin Wylie stole second base to get in scoring position and shortstop AJ Lee singled to center field to drive in Wylie for the 1-0 lead. The RBI knock occurred on the Big Train’s second at-bat of the game.
A few at-bats later, with outfielder Jacob Westerman at the plate, Lee scored on a wild pitch thrown by Express starting pitcher Mike Yasenka, extending Bethesda’s lead to 2-0.
Rockville finally got on the board in the top of the fourth when catcher Eurick Perez reached on first on a throw too high by Big Train second baseman Conor McCormack, allowing shortstop Myles Coston to make his way towards home plate. The Express cut the deficit to 2-1.
The game remained close as it went four more innings without a run. During that time frame, the Big Train turned two double plays (5-2-3 and 4-3), while Rockville turned one (4-3).
However, the Big Train added two more runs that sealed it in the bottom of the eighth. With the bases loaded, catcher Jacob Southern was walked, allowing Wylie to score. Then outfielder Andrew Shebloski advanced to first on an error when Rockville second baseman Alex Yi-Chen Jou dropped the ball, as Lee made it home.
Lee made some key defensive plays at shortstop. “AJ’s a great player,” said Big Train manager Sal Colangelo. “Defensively he’s one of the best in the country at shortstop, and he’s a great kid. Add all those things up, he’s a great player.”
Five different Big Train pitchers got a chance at the mound, allowing only two hits and one run. Quint Flanagan got the start as he went four innings allowing the lone run, while Scott Parker got the save. “I thought the guys threw well,” Colangelo said. “I’d like to see more first-pitch strikes but beside that, we were down in the zone, we threw strikes and we got after it.”
Rockville manager Rick Price was even able to acknowledge the opposing team’s performance. “Bethesda’s pitching was very good tonight, and they played great defense behind their pitching,” he said.
However, Express starter Mike Yasenka still went six innings, striking out nine batters. “Our starter did really well,” Price said. “He settled in, and pitched very well. Just a defensive game from both sides.”
On the offensive side of things, Lee had himself a game as he went 2-for-3 at the plate with two RBIs, while Wylie and outfielder Jacob Westerman also got a hit each for the Big Train. Rockville’s only two hits came from Yi-Chen Jou and outfielder Mitch Fyffe.
Bethesda remains undefeated with the best record in the Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League at 5-0, while the Express fall to 1-2.