On the first home Sunday afternoon at the Washington Nationals Youth Academy this season, the DC Grays hosted the Bethesda Big Train, who came into the game with a league-best 11-2 record, and sat atop the Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League standings.
Hoping to rebound after a tough loss the night before to the South County-Metropolitan Braves, the Grays battled the Bethesda Big Train for the third time this season.
The Grays got on the board early in the first inning, as Tyler Horvat (Washington & Jefferson) stood on second base and Sam Blancato (Georgia Southern) on first converted a double-steal with no outs, while an errant throw to second base sailed over the shortstop’s head from the Big Train allowed Horvat to score.
Taking a 1-0 lead, the bats for both sides went cold until the bottom of the fifth, until Blancato roped an RBI double that scored Horvat from first as the Grays doubled their lead.
Then, in the next at-bat, Cam Bufford (Grambling State) smoked an RBI single that allowed Blancato to scurry home from second, making it 3-0 Grays through five innings.
The Big Train, however, finally got on the board in the sixth, thanks to a solo home run to right-center field by D.M. Jefferson off of Jake Davidson (Kenyon) to make it 3-1.
Davidson, who started for the Grays, cruised through the 22 Big Train hitters he faced, and he finished the day with three strikeouts, two walks, five hits and one run allowed through six innings on 75 pitches.
Heading into the top of the ninth with a 3-1 lead in hand, the energy in the stands around the stadium felt as though it was going to be a feel-good win against the best team in the league.
But disaster struck for the Grays, as the Big Train loaded the bases off of a walk and two singles, before Sean Lane recorded a two-RBI single to tie the game, and TJ Rogers gave the Big Train a 4-3 lead with an RBI single of his own.
The Grays couldn’t make any magic happen in the bottom of the ninth, even though Jarett Jenkins (Georgia Southern) walked to lead off the inning. But from there, it was three up, three down to end the game, as the Big Train’s closer struck out the next three batters he faced.
The DC Grays fall to 6-10 and stand at fifth in the standings. They’ll travel to Olney, Md. to take on the Cropdusters for the third time this season with a 5 p.m. first pitch on Monday night. The Grays play two more road games this week and return home on Friday, July 1 to face the South County Braves (7 p.m.).