Aces Fall to Big Train 3-2
Season ends in first round playoff loss
BETHESDA, MD – by Lukas Favale – Playing in their first playoff game in team history, the Alexandria Aces needed to play a near perfect game if they wanted to get past the 3-time defending league champion Bethesda Big Train. The Aces very nearly did that, but one sloppy inning sent the Aces packing and the Big Train to the next round as the Big Train slipped by the Aces 3-2 Saturday night at Shirley Povich Field.
In the decisive 8th inning, Hunter Renfroe, who put together arguably the best regular season for an individual player in league history, started the inning by reaching on an error by shortstop Keith Picconi. Colin Kish then followed by failing to get a bunt down, but after bunting and missing with two strikes on a pitch in the dirt from Ronnie Glenn, Renfroe tried to scamper to second. Catcher Nick Octavi threw an errant throw to second which allowed Renfroe to move all the way to third. Avondre Bollar than knocked in Renfroe with a looping RBI single to tie the game at 2. Cole Norton then belted an RBI double to put the Big Train ahead for good 3-2.
The Aces had retaken the lead in the 6th inning. Anthony Papio started the inning with a walk, and Alex Buccilli followed with a walk of his own. Chris Sweeney then flew out to right field, but just deep enough to allow Papio to get to third. Ryan Doran then balked, which allowed Papio to score to put the Aces up 2-1.Colin Milon got the playoff start for the Aces and he was brilliant through the first 3 innings, send the Big Train down 9 up and 9 down. Then in the 4th, he ran into some trouble, pitching with a 1-0 lead. Michael Bass started the 4th off with a first pitch single on a ground ball up the middle that barely made it out of the infield. After a walk to Adam Barry, Milon was able to maneuver his way through the two most dangerous hitters in the lineup, Renfroe and Brendan Hendriks, but Colin Kish came through with an RBI single to knot the game at 1.
The Aces got that lead in the 2nd inning when Chris Sweeney, playing in his final game as a member of the Aces, crushed a solo home run into the trees in left field for a 1-0 lead.
Both teams had an opportunity to break the 1-1 tie in the 5th inning. In the top half, the Aces loaded the bases with no outs before Nick Octavi struck out and Adam Forrer banged into a double play. Aces manager Corey Haines came out to argue the call, saying shortstop Brennan Middleton was not on the base at second, where the first out of the double play was recorded, but the play stood and the inning was over.
Then in the bottom of the 5th, the Big Train loaded the bases with one out when Adam Barry hit a line drive ticketed for right field. First baseman Chris Sweeney made a diving catch, then got up and dove and tagged out Michael Bass at first for a double play to end that inning. The Big Train loaded the bases again in the 6th, but Milon got Brennan Middleton popped up the first pitch into foul territory. Third baseman Kevin Francke made the catch at the fence, just past the Aces dugout which drew a big cheer from the large group of Aces fans sitting right by the fence.
Over the final 3 innings, Ethan Miller, who came on in relief of Ryan Doran to start the 7th, pitched 3 perfect innings to get the win and send the Big Train on to the second round against the Baltimore Redbirds.
Notes: WP – Ethan Miller (1-1); LP – Ronnie Glenn (3-2); Box Score