After shutting out the Bethesda Big Train in Game 1 of the League Championship Series, the Silver Spring-Takoma Thunderbolts knew Bethesda would come out with heightened intensity in Game 2.
Silver Spring-Takoma mostly matched the Big Train’s energy Tuesday evening, but Bethesda broke a seventh-inning tie with two runs and held off the Thunderbolts from there in a tense 6-3 win.
The Big Train did not take long to respond to last night’s shutout, as Matt Thomas drove in a run with a two-out single in the first inning against Zeke Gongola.
Gongola tossed a clean second inning but ran into more two-out trouble in the third. Thomas doubled for his second hit of the night, and Drew Hamrock drove him in with a RBI double to right-center field.
Meanwhile, Big Train pitcher Dalton Ponce dominated the Thunderbolts’ lineup early on. He allowed just three baserunners in the first three innings,
Gongola gave up a single to open the fourth, which ended his night. He allowed two runs and five hits across three-plus innings while striking out one.
Luke Rettig came in and allowed the inherited runner to score, but he quieted the Bethesda lineup down after that.
In the bottom of the inning, the Thunderbolts began to chip away against Ponce. Lucas Donlon continued his hot postseason, bringing Tony Gallo home on a groundout for his sixth RBI of the playoffs.
After a shutdown top of the fifth from Rettig, Silver Spring-Takoma’s offense went back to work. Brady Pearre demolished a one-out, two-run home run to left center — his second of the postseason — tying the game and Ponce’s night.
Ponce allowed three runs and seven hits while striking out four in 4.1 innings, giving way to Ryan Metz.
Metz got out of the inning, and neither team could break through in the sixth.
But the Big Train struck in the seventh, with Hamrock driving in his second run of the day on a one-out triple to the right-center gap to put Bethesda up 4-3. Keith Torres III then bunted in Hamrock to extend the Big Train’s lead to two.
Silver Spring-Takoma loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the inning, but Elliott Zoellner worked out of the jam to keep Bethesda in front.
Rettig and two Big Train relievers kept the game 5-3 in the eighth, and that inning was Rettig’s last. He tossed five solid innings, allowing two runs and three hits, striking out four and taking the loss.
Bethesda scored on a two-out wild pitch in the ninth to pad their lead, and Chase Lee squashed the Thunderbolts’ last rally attempt by sitting them down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the inning.
The season will now end Wednesday at Shirley Povich Field, as the two rivals will square off in a winner-take-all Game 3. Neither team has named a starter yet.