Fails to Live Up to Form, Falls 15-0 in 2012 Home Opener
Md.—They were there in record numbers, ready to embrace this year’s
version of the Bethesda Big Train. But the overflow crowd that was on
hand Friday night for the Big Train’s home opener came largely to
bask in the afterglow of their team’s stunning success of 2011.
scripted T-shirts that most in attendance wore said it all: 2011
NATIONAL CHAMPIONS / Bethesda Big Train.
Perfect Game on hand to join in on the festive occasion and formally
recognize the Big Train as the nation’s No. 1 summer-college league
team, the mood in and around intimate Shirley Povich Field was
decidedly upbeat in pre-game ceremonies that acknowledged the team’s
amazing accomplishment of a year ago, when it went 36-9 overall,
handily won the Cal Ripken League regular-season and post-season
championships, and finished No. 1 in the country as every contender
in its path bit the dust in post-season play.
the franchise-record crowd of 1,328 didn’t expect to see, though,
was a 15-0 thrashing the defending national champions absorbed at the
hands of the Rockville Express. Not only was the one-sided setback
entirely unexpected, given the team’s recent success, but it was
one of the worst losses in the Big Train’s decorated 14-year
history, and their third straight to open the 2012 season.
never seen anything this embarrassing, and we’ve got more than
1,300 here to see it,” mumbled Bruce Adams, one of the team’s
the anticipated return of several key members of last year’s
championship team, most of those players had yet to rejoin the Big
Train this season and the lineup it fielded for its home opener
wasn’t a reasonable facsimile of the team that it will field once
the reinforcements are all in place. It certainly didn’t look like
the team that won with machine-like precision a year ago.
still missing a lot of our key players, for any number of reasons,”
lamented Big Train field manager Sal Colangelo. “We’ve had to
improvise with the ones that are here, playing a lot of them out of
position, even using pitchers in the outfield. It’s a very
patchwork team, but we’ll be okay once everyone arrives.”
those slated to return to the Big Train lineup in the new few days
are catcher/righthander Hunter Renfroe (Mississippi State), the
top-ranked prospect in the Cal Ripken League a year ago and a
potential first-rounder in 2013; and third baseman Adam Barry, the
reigning league MVP who set numerous league records a year ago,
including for highest single-season batting average (.414) and RBIs
(43). A Cal State Northridge product with his college degree already
in hand, Barry was hoping to be drafted last week as a fourth-year
junior, but wasn’t and has since consented to return to Bethesda.
year’s staff ace, righthander Matt Bowman (Princeton), was actually
in the house Friday night, but was there in street clothes as he
stopped by only to share in the team’s celebration and offer a few
good-byes as he was on his way that night to sign a contract with the
New York Mets.
was among eight former Big Train players selected in last week’s
draft, chief among them righthanders Martin Agosta (St.
Mary’s/Calif.) and Tucker Donahue (Stetson), selected in the second
and fourth rounds. Bowman was a 13th-rounder. All
pitchers, they anchored a dominant Big Train pitching staff a year
ago that posted a collective 2.40 ERA. Unfortunately, none was
available to pitch for the Big Train on Friday night as Rockville
banged out 19 hits in its one-sided triumph.
pretty much got everyone coming back this year that is eligible to
come back,” said Colangelo, an athletic director at a local high
school who has been with the team since its inception in 1999, the
last eight as the team’s field manager. “With all the success
we’ve had here and the way we treat our players, we have players
wanting to return for a second year, and even a third, instead of
looking elsewhere to play. In terms of facility, the housing for
players, the way our fans embrace the team, the way we do everything
in a first-class manner, we provide as good a summer-league
experience as any team in the country.
I said a year ago, we felt our team, especially with the depth we had
on our pitching staff, was good enough to compete with any team in
summer baseball, even those in the upper echelon of the Cape Cod
League, and I still believe that. Once we get everyone back this
year, I think this team will have a chance to be as good as last
was hard to tell that, based on a one-game snapshot Friday, but a
trip to Bethesda was all about what the Big Train accomplished in
2011 and before, not what it hasn’t accomplished to date this year.