BETHESDA — The marquee matchup in the Cal Ripken League Saturday night featured the Bethesda Big Train (21-7) and Baltimore Redbirds (25-4), the best two teams in the league, facing off at Shirley Povich Field.
Both teams put up a ton of runs in the eighth inning with the Big Train coming out victorious in the end for the 12-10 victory in what may have been the game of the year.
Bethesda got things going in the bottom of the first when second baseman Fox Semones hit a leadoff home run to deep left field. Then, baserunners Carson Taylor and Tyler Villaroman both advanced on an error by Redbirds catcher Will Harless. Villaroman scored and Taylor moved to third, and then to home plate on a wild pitch to give the Big Train a 3-0 lead.
But Baltimore responded in the top of the second with an RBI double from designated hitter Bo Majkowski that drove in Harless and that cut the deficit to 3-1.
However, in the next frame, third baseman Taylor hit a two-RBI double that sent home Semones and catcher Ben Martz for the 5-1 lead.
The fourth inning featured five combined runs; three from the Redbirds and one from the Big Train. Baltimore also scored in the top of the fifth on a Tim Elko RBI single that drove in shortstop Anthony Servideo.
Bethesda still led 6-5 when the seventh inning ended. But when the top of the eighth came, Baltimore’s Servideo tied the game up at 6-6 with an RBI single that drove in outfielder Christian Hlinka. Servideo then scored the go-ahead run when first baseman Joe Zirolli reached on an error by the third baseman. The Redbirds scored three more runs to take a 10-6 lead in the middle of the eighth.
“Eventually he’s going to be playing on a very high level,” said Baltimore manager Tom Eller on Servideo. “We’re going to be watching him on TV someday.”
The Big Train didn’t give up though, as they showed signs of life. After two walks, Taylor singled to center field and drove in Semones and Justin Wylie hit an RBI double that sent home outfielder Tyler Villaroman.
Then the Big Train tied things up at 10-10 when first baseman John Glenn hit a two-RBI single that drove in Taylor and outfielder Andrew Shebloski, who subbed in for Wylie.
With the bases loaded, Martz at the plate, a 3-2 count, and the home crowd on the edge of their feet, a fourth ball was called and pinch runner Tyler Reis scored the go-ahead run to give Bethesda the 11-10 lead. This followed with Semones coming to the plate and also getting walked with the bases loaded as outfielder Jacob Westerman scored.
“Just hit the baseball,” said Martz on what was going through his mind. “Just get a bat on it, and don’t strike out in that situation. If it’s a ball, then laugh, but if not, then we’re going to hit it.”
The Redbirds may have put up five runs in the inning, but the Big Train outdid them by scoring six. Hunter Brown was able to secure the save for the Big Train.
“I think when people think of the Cal Ripken League, you think of the Big Train and the Redbirds,” Martz said. “So I think it’s really cool to kind of confirm our dominance over them. I know they got us one time, but they’re a great team.”
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