After two tense games in the Cal Ripken League Championship Series between the Silver Spring-Takoma Thunderbolts and Bethesda Big Train, both teams knew the margin for error was slim. And while the Thunderbolts had the upper hand early, the Big Train stayed afloat and rallied in the eighth inning.
They used four walks and four hits to put up six runs in the inning, spoiling Alex Mykut’s gutsy start and sending Bethesda to a 6-4 win for their fourth consecutive league championship.
The Thunderbolts wasted no time in jumping on the Big Train in the first inning. Corey Rosier led off with a walk against Anthony Piccolino, and after a stolen base, Brady Pearre drove him in with a single to center for his team-leading eighth RBI.
Tony Gallo then doubled in Pearre, staking Silver Spring-Takoma to a 2-0 lead and chasing Piccolino, who did not record an out.
Ryan Okuda took over for Bethesda and recorded two quick outs, before Gallo scored on a Keith Torres III error to cap a three-run inning.
After that, Okuda quieted the Thunderbolts’ offense. He allowed two baserunners in the next four innings, before Silver Spring-Takoma padded their lead with two outs in the sixth.
Cole Friese singled and stole second, and Ian McMillan drove him in with a bloop single to right field, putting the Thunderbolts up 4-0.
That was more than enough for Thunderbolts starter Alex Mykut. He was dominant in 6.2 shutout innings, working around four walks while striking out four and largely inducing weak contact.
He took a no-hitter into the sixth inning, before Kobe Kato singled through the left side. Mykut got out of the inning and recorded two outs in the seventh before being lifted for Bradyn Kail due to a high pitch count.
Kail worked out of the seventh, and all seemed well for the Thunderbolts. But trouble came in the eighth.
The first two Big Train runners reached base before Matt Thomas demolished an 0-1 pitch over the scoreboard in left-center field to cut the Thunderbolts’ lead to 4-3.
Bethesda then got a runner to third with one out against Tyler Dyball, and it seemed as if Silver Spring-Takoma’s lead would evaporate right then. But Torres grounded to McMillan, who threw out the runner at home to preserve the advantage.
The Big Train were not done, though. They loaded the bases before Gio Diaz drove in two runs with a single up the middle to take the lead. Christian Jayne, who led off the inning, then doubled in another run to put Bethesda up 6-4, leaving the game up to the Thunderbolts’ offense, which was shut down by Greer Holston in the prior two innings.
Chase Lee then came in for the Big Train and squashed any last-minute Silver Spring-Takoma rally, sitting the Thunderbolts down in order to clinch the league title.
Despite the disappointing result, the Thunderbolts showed they could hang with the league’s best while not at full strength.
There are lessons and little victories in every loss, and as the summer concludes, Silver Spring-Takoma players will return to their colleges and reflect on their experiences. And before anyone knows it, the summer 2020 season will be here, and the Thunderbolts will get right back to work, looking to get over the hump.