The Gaithersburg Giants, midway through their second season in the Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League (CRCBL), are in contention for one of six playoff spots with 13 games left over the next 10 days of the season.
The Giants were founded in 2006 by John Brady and put in the Eddie Brooks league. After Brady’s death in 2009, Alfie Riley, the team’s general manager, took over along with head coach Jeff Rabberman, Gaithersburg High School’s head coach. The two moved the team into the Maryland Collegiate League in 2009.
In 2013 the CRCBL approached the duo about moving the Giants into their league and that year the team played its first season, finishing with a 28-18 record and finishing third in the regular season.
This year the team has been hindered by injuries and lost a few key players, including Collin Shaw of the University of Texas, to higher leagues such as the Cape Cod League. Despite the injuries, the Giants are 13-14 and are in a three-way tie for the fifth seed entering the final stretch of the season.
One player who has stepped up is Matt Sanchez of Texas State University, who is filling in for injured Seton Hall All-Big East center fielder Derek Jenkins who separated his shoulder sliding into home.
“[Sanchez] has really been our catalyst,” Riley said. “We put him up at the top of the order and we’ve actually got a little mini-win streak going on right now.”
Other standouts include Brady Acker of George Mason, who is second in the league with a batting average of .355, and Trevor Houck of Lafayette College, whose 1.25 ERA ranks him third in the league.
Riley said he is pleased with the team’s record given the injuries and is looking for the team to hold their playoff spot as they enter the final stretch of games.
“We definitely want to make the playoffs,” Riley said.
After making a successful transition into the CRCBL the Giants are starting to garner more fan attention. Riley attributed the increase in fan attendance partially to the field renovations, including an upgrade in the stadium lights which allowed games to be scheduled later in the evening. Riley said the team is attempting to expand its promotional calendar. Their next game is July 17 against the Vienna River Dogs. The game on July 24 is Rotary Club Night.