Aces get statement win over first-place Bethesda, end its seven-game winning streak

By Chris Damond

Ever since the Cal Ripken League was founded in 2005, the Bethesda Big Train has dominated. Over the years, they’ve won nine championships, 11 regular season titles and produced several MLB stars. 

This season, the Big Train hasn’t missed a beat. Entering Saturday’s game, Bethesda boasted an 11-1 record and was riding a seven-game winning streak. But the Alexandria Aces, who’ve been trending upwards after making the championship game last year, stopped the Big Train in its tracks. Alexandria jumped out to a 10-1 lead in the fifth and never looked back, crushing Bethesda 13-4 at Shirley Povich Field in front of a stunned crowd. 

Alexandria lost the first two meetings against Bethesda, with a crushing 2-1 loss after a ninth-inning Big Train rally on June 11, and a 7-5 defeat on Tuesday at Frank Mann Field. The Aces finally got the job done tonight.  

But no one expected Alexandria to score 13 runs off 15 hits against the league leaders in team ERA (2.31).   

Eddie Hacopian (Maryland) scored off a passed ball in the second to put Alexandria on the board. After scoring a pair of runs in each of the next two innings, the Aces exploded for a five-run fifth to go up 10-1 and put Bethesda in danger of the mercy rule.  

CJ Boyd (East Carolina) led the charge on offense with three hits and a team-high four RBI, which included a bases-clearing double in the fifth. Boyd doubled again in the eighth, and Cade Sullivan (Western Michigan) hit another two-bagger right after to add an insurance run.        

Adam Tellier (Ball State), who leads the Aces in batting average (.385), remained consistent, smacking three singles in six at-bats with one RBI to provide an offensive boost.  

Jacob Friend (Davidson) excelled on both sides of the ball against the Big Train on Tuesday, picking off an astonishing three batters and recording three hits. On Saturday, he continued his stellar play by crushing a solo home run to right field that landed in the trees.  

Jacob Hartlaub (Ball State) had one of the best performances by an Alexandria starting pitcher this season, and he picked up the win. Bethesda couldn’t make hard contact, as it registered four hits off the Michigan native, with none going for extra bases. Hartlaub was accurate, too, striking out seven of the 22 batters he faced. The Big Train mustered just one run off him. Entering the day with a 7.20 ERA due to some shaky starts, Hartlaub was able to gain confidence and put any concerns to rest. 

But the Big Train wouldn’t go away quietly. After trailing 10-1, a three-run sixth narrowed the gap to 10-4. Bethesda didn’t get any closer, though, and the Aces tacked on three insurance runs in the final two frames.  

With the bases loaded in the seventh for Bethesda, Yuchen Wang (Jiangning CC) went behind on a 2-1 count to Trey Winget. He battled back, though, getting the lefty to foul a ball, before finishing him off with a nasty pitch low in the zone to end the inning.  

The Big Train loaded the bases again in the eighth with Jacob Snell (Mississippi Gulf Coast CC) at the mound, who struck out the last batter to preserve Alexandria’s lead. He then struck out the side in the ninth to secure the victory.  

Brandon Clarke recorded the loss.  

Alexandria returns to action on Monday against the Gaithersburg Giants at Criswell Automotive Field. First pitch is at 7:00.