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Walk-off turns tide and lifts Express past T-Bolts

Rockville Express players clear the dugout and rush toward teammate Jarel McDade (20) on first base after he drove in Alex Yi-Chen Jou (2) to win against the Silver Spring-Takoma Thunderbolts by a score of 6-5 in the Cal Ripken Summer Collegiate Baseball League game at the Express home field at Montgomery College - Rockville on Saturday night. PHOTO BY GEORGE SMITHRockville Express players clear the dugout and rush toward teammate Jarel McDade (20) on first base after he drove in Alex Yi-Chen Jou (2) to win against the Silver Spring-Takoma Thunderbolts by a score of 6-5 in the Cal Ripken League game Saturday night. PHOTO BY GEORGE SMITH  ROCKVILLE — The odds were stacked against Jarel McDade when he walked up to the plate Saturday. It was the bottom of the ninth inning and the Rockville Express trailed the Silver Spring-Takoma Thunderbolts by one with two outs and a man on second and third base.

The Express had trailed since the top of the fourth. Rockville’s last chance at a victory rested squarely on McDade’s shoulders.

T-Bolts pitcher Garrett Pearson wound up and fired a fastball right at McDade. The outfielder swung hard and slammed the ball across the length of the field as two players sped over home plate. In a matter of seconds, Rockville’s fate had changed from a likely loss to a one-point win on a walk off by a score of 6-5.

“I had been struggling all game long and I was down to the last at bat. I was waiting for a fastball because all I see is [Pearson] throwing fastballs,” said McDade. “I saw my pitch and I just put the best swing I could on it.”

The walk-off win couldn’t have come at a better time for McDade, who stated that he had been waiting for a moment like this all season.

“Things haven’t gone our way all season. We’ve had some bad calls, stuff like that, but tonight we battled hard and got the win,” he said.

The Express took an early lead but trailed after the fourth inning when Silver Spring-Takoma infielder Matt Ballance registered two RBI on a single. Rockville then tied the game at the bottom of the sixth before T-Bolts infielder Zach Buck put his team back in the lead a few minutes later.

The energy was palpable in Rockville’s dugout after the Thunderbolts struck out quickly at the top of the ninth. The Express’s final opportunity had arrived and players shouted encouragement to each other as Ian Scheidemann strode up to bat first for Rockville.

Pearson made short work of two batters before McDade swung for the fences and the Rockville dugout poured jubilantly onto the field.

The Express sits at a 9-10 record with half of the season in the books. Meanwhile, Silver Spring – Takoma fell to 7-14 after Saturday’s loss.

“We battled and it was tough. We had some more opportunities and runners in scoring positions that we should have capitalized on but we’ll bounce back tomorrow,” said Ballance. “We want to keep playing tough in games and keep seeing results.”

The T-Bolts are set to clash Sunday against another divisional foe, the 6-12 Baltimore Dodgers. The Express also has a date Sunday with the best team in the Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League: the 18-3 Bethesda Big Train. The last time Rockville faced the Big Train, Bethesda came away with a 14-5 win.

@EvaPaspalis

 

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