Aces vs. Big Train Championship Preview

By Peter Rainey

July 26, 2023

For a third consecutive season, the Alexandria Aces will compete in the Cal Ripken League Championship Series, and for a third consecutive season, they will meet Bethesda’s Big Train in the final round. The Aces clinched their position in the championship series Monday with an extra-innings 6-5 victory over the Silver Spring-Takoma Thunderbolts. The Big Train solidified their position last night with a come-from-behind win over the Olney Cropdusters, taking the deciding game three of that semifinal series by a final score of 15-7 after trailing 5-0.

The anticipated championship series gets going tonight in Alexandria with a 6:30 p.m. first pitch time; the Aces, as the top seed of the playoffs, are awarded home field advantage in two out of the three games in the series. If the series is tied 1-1 after two games, a deciding game three will be played Friday night at Frank Mann Field; tomorrow’s game two will be played in Bethesda at Shirley Povich Field.

The Big Train feature an intimidating front of offensive weapons, which they displayed at full volume in their semifinal series win over Olney. Cal Ripken League All-Star Outfielder Jeffrey Heard, a Sacramento State product out of San Jose, California, has batted .300 this postseason, he crushed a game-tying two-run bomb in the bottom of the ninth inning of game one, setting course for an extra-innings Big Train victory—a win that proved crucial as the Cropdusters went on to win game two. In the deciding game three last night, Big Train’s Dixon Williams, an infielder from East Carolina, batted five for five for a staggering seven RBIs, also sending out a grand slam. The Aces will look to slow down his strong momentum in the championship series.

The third installment of the trilogy begins tonight. The Aces won the season series 3-2, but in postseason baseball, that means zilch.

“Once we get to the playoffs, I don’t care about records.” Aces head coach Chris Berset said. “It’s anyone’s game; we just gotta find a way to win two ball games.” Again, the first pitch tonight from Frank Mann Field is at 6:30 p.m.; it is the opening game of a best-of-three series for the title.