Following last night’s 9-0 victory over the Big Train at Shirley Povich Field, the Bolts are one game away from winning the CRCBL Championship. They can claim it tonight at Blair when the two teams square off in Game Two of the Series at 7 pm. The Bolts are throwing right hander Zeke Gongola (Montgomery College, Germantown) while the Train throws one of its aces in southpaw Dalton Ponce (St. Marys College of California).
The Bethesda Big Train was tabbed as the heavy favorites to blow through everyone in the Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League in the Semi-Final and Final Series (including their own website). They still may be, but they find themselves down one game to the surging and surprising Silver Spring-Takoma Thunderbolts.
Against southpaws this season, the Bolts have won seven of ten. Two of the three losses to lefties came against the Big Train’s duo of Ponce and Ryan Okuda (Va Tech). Should the Big Train win at Blair tonight, the Bolts would have the unenviable task of facing Okuda who has beat them twice this season both at Blair on June 5, and at home on June 11 (a shutout).
Against the T-Bolts on July 7, Ponce threw a masterpiece at Povich going five innings, allowing no hits and no walks while striking out ten, in a 7-1 victory. Overall, Ponce is 5-2 with a 3.37 ERA with 44 strikeouts while issuing only three walks.
Gongola, who came up to the Bolts at mid-season, was 1-1 during the regular season with a 3.15 ERA. In his 20 innings of work, he struck out 17 and walked five. In the playoffs, Zeke made one start against the DC Grays, going 2.2 innings, giving up one run on three hits, walking three and striking out two. He did not figure in the decision in the series-clinching game won by the Bolts, 10-9. Yash Rane (Lehigh) got the win and Tyler Dyball (U of Hawaii) got the save to clinch the series in DC.
INF Lucas Donlon (Va Tech) leads the Bolts offense in the playoffs with a .545 average, hitting one double, three home runs, while knocking in five runs. Brady Pearre (High Point) is right behind, hitting .455 with one triple, one home run, and five RBIs. INF Dalton Martin (Tusculum) is hitting .400; INF Ian McMillan (Houston) and OF Cole Freise (Millersville) are each hitting .333, with Freise having scored three runs and McMillan knocking in four. Corey Rosier (Chipola) is hitting .200 but has scored six runs and gotten on base seven of the ten times he has been up.
The much-maligned Bolts pitching staff has given up just six earned runs in the three playoff games for a team ERA of 2.00. Of the ten pitchers the Bolts have thrown in the playoffs, nine have combined to give up only one earned run. The team ERA even leads the Big Train’s 3.50 team ERA following last night’s loss at Povich.
So the stage is set at Blair tonight and the Bolts will have to break through against Ponce ( a tough assignment) to avoid a third-game showdown back at Povich. Tony Gallo (Lehigh) finally broke out of his slump with a two-out RBI base hit last night and if he can join the other Bolts in the playoff hit parade, they may have a chance tonight against the Big Train and not only win their first game against them at Blair this season, but the first title for the Bolts in the CRCBL since 2006.
The game will be broadcast on the T-Bolts Radio Network at 6:55 pm with Julian Baron and Neal Lavon on the call. Justin Jaquis and Clark Boinis will handle in-game and broadcast production duties as well as social media.
Interest is peaking in the Bolts, and hopefully, the largest crowd of the season comes out tonight to see what unfolds at Blair.