Aces, Big Train wrap up first week of Cal Ripken League as division leaders

The Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League wrapped up its first week of action for the 2023 season. Here’s a look at some of the biggest stories so far.

Reigning champs open season strong: The Alexandria Aces are currently atop the South division at 5-1 and were the last team with an undefeated record until a loss against the Olney Cropdusters on June 11.

The Aces are currently ahead of the Metro South County Braves (3-4), Southern Maryland Senators (2-4) and D.C. Grays (2-5).

Meanwhile, the Bethesda Big Train sits atop the North division at 6-2 and continues to be one of the premier teams in the Cal Ripken League. Trailing the Big Train are the Cropdusters (4-3), Gaithersburg Giants (3-3), and Silver Spring-Takoma Thunderbolts (2-5).

Notable results: The Big Train blew out the Thunderbolts 21-2 on June 4; Alexandria scored nine runs in the eighth to beat Bethesda on June 6, and Olney defeated the previously-undefeated Aces as part of its three-game winning streak. 

Player awards: Thunderbolts infielder Zane Gross won the league’s Week 1 Offensive Player of the Week after going .588/.650/.647 with six runs scored and eight RBIs.

The Potomac, Maryland, native and Churchill High School alum posted multi-hit efforts in three of his four appearances, including a four-hit, four-RBI showing in SS-T’s win over the Braves on June 6.

The Pitcher of the Week for Week 1 was awarded to the Big Train’s Ryan Ertlschweiger. The James Madison pitcher allowed just one run over his two starts (spanning eight innings) for a 1.12 ERA while striking out nine opponents. 

His best outing came against SS-T on June 10, when he went four innings without giving up a hit while allowing just two walks against six strikeouts.

Pitching stat leaders: Eddie Kaftan (Grays), Anthony Ehly (Aces), and Jackson Bauer (Giants) are all tied with two wins each.

Ehly is currently the leader in strikeouts with 16, while Sam Stratton and Diego Barrett (both Grays) have 10 each.

While it may be early for ERA leaders, John Gray (Senators), Josh Beck, Ryan Cook (Cropdusters) and Reece Crochet (Aces) are the pitchers who have yet to give up a run.

Batting leaders: Cory Taylor (Aces) and Jeffrey Heard (Big Train) lead the league with two home runs each.

The top three batting averages in the league currently belong to Gross with .476, Heard with .462, and Erik Rindner (Thunderbolts) with .417.

Heard also currently leads the league in RBIs by a longshot with 15 runs batted in, while Taylor and Gavin Miller (Aces) are tied for the second-closest with eight.

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