By Peter Rainey
The Alexandria Aces opened their 2023 campaign in the Cal Ripken Senior Collegiate Summer League with a convincing 11-3 victory over the Silver Spring Thunderbolts. A staggering 17 Aces batters reached base safely without needing to swing a bat, advancing either via. walk or hit by pitch. Aces starter Anthony Ehly (Seton Hall) impressed in his first win of the season, punching out five innings with only two earned runs.
“It’s always good to get that first W in the books,” said Aces head coach Chris Berset. “The boys had a couple nerves early; great turnout tonight, but it’s great to get the win.”
As coined by coach Berset, the early nerves were cause for concern as the Aces fell behind 0-2 in the first inning. A three-run second, however, awarded the Aces a lead they would not relinquish. Ehly dealed near flawlessly down the stretch, retiring twelve of fourteen after surrendering his only two runs in the first. Relievers Reece Crochet (George Washington) and Josh Rivera (UMBC) combined for one earned run in three innings before closer Michael Gillen (Seton Hall) put the Bolts away quietly in a 1-2-3 ninth-inning frame for the save. On the offensive side of the ball, standouts included George Washington’s Tim Nicholson with three RBIs and Lehigh’s Brandon Coughlin, who reached base safely on all five of his plate appearances.
Moving on in the schedule, the Aces will take to the road tonight and meet the Cal Ripken League powerhouse Bethesda Big Train. The Big Train were previously five-time defending champions before being knocked off last year by the Aces in the League Championship Series; there will certainly be a sour taste in their mouths, hungry to be satisfied with revenge.
“It’s the same [game plan],” said Berset. “You know they’re (The Big Train) always going to give their best effort, but for us, it is about going out there, grinding, and getting quality at-bats.”
Game two will get going with a 7:00 PM first pitch at Povich Field in Bethesda, Maryland. It will prove to be an early test for the defending champion Aces.