Bethesda Big Train pitcher Ryan Doran is seen earlier this season.
Photograph by Harvey Levine
Bethesda Big Train manager Sal Colangelo stood silent in the third-base coaching area during the ninth inning of Monday’s Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League contest against the first-place Rockville Express. Trailing by five runs, the Big Train went down in order, putting the finishing touches on an 8-3 loss at Montgomery College-Rockville.
Colangelo briefly voiced his displeasure with the team near the third-base dugout before talking to his players during a lengthy meeting in left field following the latest defeat in a four-game losing streak for the three-time defending league champion.
The manager’s message: "Perform or quit," Colangelo said, "plain and simple."
Along with three consecutive league titles, Bethesda was ranked No. 1 in the nation last year by Perfect Game scouting service. This year, the Big Train has stumbled out of the gate and was in last place in the 10-team league with a 3-9 record after their loss to Rockville on June 18. Part of the reason behind Bethesda’s slow start is a lack of continuity. Due to injuries, players still playing with their college teams or other reasons, Colangelo said Bethesda just recently had all of its players present for a game, though the team is looking to make a few additions. Even when the Big Train has a full roster, it’s not the team Colangelo envisioned he would have as he said Bethesda lost 18 players in the two weeks prior to the season.
"This is a tough year," Colangelo said.
Bethesda jumped out to a 1-0 lead against Rockville behind Adam Barry’s RBI single. The Express responded with three runs in the third and two in the fourth and led for the remainder of the contest. Norm Donkin and Peter Bowles each hit a home run for Rockville.
"Play the game like you’re supposed to, execute the fundamentals, stop being lackadaisical, get after it and play Big Train baseball," Colangelo said he told his team after Monday’s contest. "You have a big bull’s eye on your back; everyone knows you do. No one else wants to do anything more than beat you guys because all you do is win year in, year out. You’ve got to play the game. You’ve got to come play from the first pitch to the last pitch, eliminate the big inning and play the game like you’re supposed to and we’ll take care of business."
Barry finished with two hits for the Big Train. Starting pitcher Robby Kidd suffered the loss, allowing five runs — four earned — and eight hits in 3 1/3 innings. He walked three and struck out five. Mike Kent allowed two hits, walked two and struck out two in 2 2/3 innings of scoreless relief.
"You have a big bull’s eye on your back; everyone knows you do. No one else wants to do anything more than beat you guys because all you do is win year in, year out."
— Bethesda Big Train manager Sal Colangelo to his team
For the season, Hunter Renfroe (.350), Barry (.345), and Michael Bass (.303) are each hitting better than .300. Renfroe leads the team in home runs (2) and is tied with Brendan Hendriks for the team lead in RBIs (7).
The loss dropped Bethesda six games behind Rockville, but Colangelo is optimistic the Big Train can turn things around.
"[The Express] execute. They throw strikes," Colangelo said. "Their pitchers are no better than our pitchers. Their position players are no better than our position players. There’s not a guy I would trade on their roster for [one of ours], but they’re playing well. They’re playing as a team and they’re doing the little things. They’re executing the fundamentals and as long as they do that they’re going to be very successful."