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Big Train Opens Season as 3-Time Defending Champion

Big Train Opens Season as 3-Time Defending Champion

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Robbie Kidd (Tennessee) pitches for the Bethesda Big Train in an exhibition game.

After a trio of exhibition games, the three-time defending Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League champion Bethesda Big Train will open the 2012 season on the road against the Baltimore Redbirds at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, June 6. The Bethesda ballclub enters its 14th season of existence.

The Big Train ended last season ranked as the No. 1 collegiate summer baseball team in the nation by Perfect Game scouting service. While the recognition could place a target on the backs of Bethesda players, junior catcher Tucker Tobin (George Mason) said members of the Big Train should be focused on what they can control.

"The thing with playing in Bethesda is that we have so many fans here all the time, it’s not as bad. It’s fun playing [at Shirley Povich Field] every night. We play the away games at some of the high schools around here and it’s 100 degrees out and if the game is running long, then it’s a little bit of a grind. But definitely playing [at Povich], with all the promotional stuff and all the fans that come out, it’s a lot of fun."

— Big Train catcher Tucker Tobin

"I don’t know about the whole No. 1 ranking thing. That, I guess, will take care of itself," Tobin said. "The goal will be to win the league again, to start."

Bethesda manager Sal Colangelo said the Big Train’s primary focus will be "playing hard between the lines and getting better."

Tobin enters his second season with the Big Train and figures to play a key role in whether the team can continue its run of success. A former standout at West Springfield High School in Springfield, Va., Tobin said playing for the Big Train helps keep the summer baseball schedule from turning into a grind.

"The thing with playing in Bethesda is that we have so many fans here all the time, it’s not as bad," said Tobin, who played the 2010 season with the Southern Maryland Nationals. "It’s fun playing [at Shirley Povich Field] every night. We play the away games at some of the high schools around here and it’s 100 degrees out and if the game is running long, then it’s a little bit of a grind. But definitely playing [at Povich], with all the promotional stuff and all the fans that come out, it’s a lot of fun."

Tobin’s former West Springfield teammate, Mike Kent (Clemson), returns as a key member of the Big Train pitching staff, along with Matt Bowman (Princeton) and Hugh Adams (Florida Atlantic).

In the field, catcher/outfielder Hunter Renfroe (Mississippi State) and infielder Brennan Middleton (Tulane) are impact players. Outfielder Avondre Bollar (San Diego State) showed opposite field power during an exhibition game against the Herndon Braves.

Bethesda’s first home game of the regular season is at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, June 8 against the Rockville Express.