BETHESDA – The Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League is back for summer 2023 as the defending champion Alexandria Aces visited the Bethesda Big Train Tuesday night in a rematch of last year’s League Championship Series.
Down by one in the eighth, Amari Allen’s bases-clearing hit resulted in nine runs for the Aces en route to a 12-5 victory over the Big Train at Shirley Povich Field.
“Coach [Berset] told me that it would be bases loaded, so I was going to get a pitch to hit,” said Allen. “I just had to take my time, keep my head on the ball, and swing hard.”
Allen, a D.C. native, is coming off a championship season with the Sherwood High School baseball team. Two weeks earlier, he played at Shirley Povich Field when Sherwood beat Severna Park in the Maryland 4A state semifinals.
“It’s a beautiful field,” said Allen. “It felt like home. I just had to play hard and just keep my composure. I know it was a big crowd, but I just had to play my game.”
Batting-wise, Allen finished 2 for 4 at the plate with one RBI and one run, while Cory Taylor and Gavin Miller went 3 for 5 each with two and three runs, respectively.
“Coming in, we won the tournament last year,” said Taylor. “Coming back on their field, first game, getting a win is really big for us.”
Meanwhile, Jeffery Heard had a solid hitting performance for Bethesda, going 2 for 3 with one RBI and one run.
“It’s awesome,” said Heard. “Coming out, you get a whole bunch of fans out here, a whole lot of fan love. Everybody on the team is really good, really getting after a lot of hard work.”
After three scoreless innings, Alexandria put up three runs in the top of the fourth, thanks to Alex Wade reaching first on an error and allowing two runs to score, as well as Matt Ossenfort coming home on a fielder’s choice.
“It feels good to honestly come back with a new group,” said Aces head coach Chris Berset. “Most of these guys haven’t experienced anything, so it’s a whole new journey for these guys.”
However, the Big Train tied the game up at 3-3 in the bottom of the fifth, as Heard hit an RBI double, Teddy Ruffner reached on an error with Casey Bishop scoring, and Jack Guerrero got walked with the bases loaded.
“Seeing the ball well, the whole team had to stay on the fastball approach,” said Heard. “I think we did a good job scoring enough runs.”
Bethesda then took a two-run lead in the sixth on a stolen base and a balk.
However, down a run with the bases loaded in the top of the eighth, Allen hit a single and advanced to second on an error, clearing the bases to give Alexandria a 7-5 lead. Two of those runs were unearned.
“Can’t say enough about Amari,” said Berset. “What a big knock he had. He came in, signed him late, and he gave us chances.”
The single led to five more runs from the Aces, which included Taylor and Miller hitting consecutive 2-RBI singles.
“We put up quality at-bat after quality at-bat,” said Taylor. “It paid off. We put up a 9-spot and had timely hitting with bases loaded.”