ALEXANDRIA, VA – The 277 in attendance for the first game of the Cal Ripken Collegiate League Championship Series at Frank Mann Field witnessed a high-scoring affair. The Alexandria Aces and the Bethesda Big Train scored 26 runs between them. But the Aces fell to Bethesda, 16-10, and never held the lead, though the game was close until the fourth inning when Bethesda scored seven.
It was a rough night for Aces starter Anthony Ehly who took the loss pitching 3 and 1/3 and giving up nine earned runs. But Bethesda starter Jesse Gutierrez’s night was almost as challenging. The Aces strong lineup had nine hits against him and scored seven runs.
The game was action-packed from the start. After Bethesda scored five runs in the top of the first, Aces leadoff hitter Tim Nicholson hit for a triple in the bottom of the inning. He scored when RJ Hamilton surrendered the first out in a 6-3 fielder’s choice.
In the second inning, it looked like the Aces might take the lead. Bethesda was held scoreless in the top of the inning, and when the Aces came to bat, they plated five on five hits, leaving only one runner on base. It all started with a Cory Taylor single and continued with a Dylan Grego single. Taylor scored on a double by Alex Wade, and Grego and Wade scored on a single by RJ Hamilton. A few batters later, Tim Nicholson scored on an unearned run and Evan Sines was awarded home on a pass ball.
In the third, the Aces tied the score with Taylor manufacturing a run. He stole third during Grego’s at-bat and went home on his teammate’s single. Unfortunately, the inning saw the Aces leave two on base.
The fourth is when the game fell apart. Bethesda came out swinging, scoring seven runs on seven hits. After seeing his starter give up three consecutive hits and surrender one more run, Head Coach Chris Berset made a call to the bullpen. Reliever Cade Mattison entered, giving up five runs.
The Aces attempted a comeback in the sixth, scoring two runs on two hits. But Bethesda countered in the top of the seventh with two of their own. They widened the gap with two more in the eighth, and the Aces were held scoreless for the rest of the night.
Head Coach Chris Berset had a very simple message for his team entering the second game. “Get back to the fundamentals. Keep pitching the ball, make routine plays, and have good at-bats.
“I told them that all championships [have] some kind of adversity that has to be overcome,” he said. “[There’s] no better group to do that than this one right here!”
Game 2 is tonight at 7 p.m. The Aces are away at Shirley Povich Field in Rockville. This contest is a must-win to advance to Game 3 tomorrow. [SEE ALSO: Michelle Rief Unanimously Elected Chair of Alexandria School Board]