Category: News

RJ Hamilton Heroics Cap-Off Aces Comeback Win

By Peter Rainey

The Alexandria Aces (14-2) returned to Cal Ripken League play last night after a two-day hiatus, meeting a cross-division foe in the Gaithersburg Giants (6-11). The Aces, riding a six-game winning streak into last night’s game, ate an early gut punch as the Giants’ bats drove four runs across in a second-inning rally. An inning later, the deficit grew to 5-0. Alexandria was playing in front of a great turnout at Frank Mann Field; 180 paid fans were on register for last night’s ballgame, but easily over 200 were in attendance as little leaguers entered for free due to the franchise’s collaboration with the local Fort Hunt Little League. With families enjoying an evening of Aces baseball, Gaithersburg appeared more than poised to play the role of spoiler.

That all changed in the bottom of the fourth inning. Opened by an RBI sacrifice fly from Tim Nicholson of George Washington University, the Aces would rally for a four-run inning of their own, bringing the game back within reach at 5-4. Aces’ Jonah Oster of Campbell University clutched a two-RBI single with two outs down.

“I was just trying to find pitches I could handle,” Oster said. “My first couple of at-bats, I was swinging at bad pitches, so I was really trying to find pitches in the zone that I could handle and get the job done.”

With both starters out of the game by the fifth inning, the game evolved into a battle of the bullpens—a pitcher’s duel with two very different approaches. The Giants stuck through until the ninth inning with just one reliever, Jackson Bauer of Catonsville CC. Bauer dealt masterfully, surrendering just two hits and no earned runs through four and a half innings of work. The Aces, on the other hand, utilized the arms of five different relievers down the stretch. A reliever tandem of Tucker Narkinsky of Tallahassee CC and Josh Rivera of UMBC combined to retire 12 straight Giants batters, cruising the Aces defense through the backstretch of the game before being relieved in the ninth inning. After exchanging four-run rallies in the early going of the game, both offenses had run dry. By the ninth inning, the game remained a 5-4 deficit for the Aces.

The first team to break ice in the ninth were the Gaithersburg Giants, who brought across one run of insurance on an RBI fielder’s choice hit by Kazuya Jordan of Virginia Military Institute. Arriving in the bottom of the ninth, the Aces trailed by two, 6-4. Aces’ lead-off man Tim Nicholson got aboard with a dribbler through the infield, and the Aces’ home crowd began to come alive. Two batters later, Gavin Miller of Auburn University pulled a line drive fair of the left field foul line for a double, advancing Nicholson to third and putting the tying run, himself, in scoring position. Next up, Aces’ Jonah Oster. Oster entered the batter’s box and laid good contact with back-to-back baseballs, the first falling just foul and the second landing fair. His second two-RBI single of the night brought Nicholson and Miller home, tying the game at 6-6. Oster would go on to steal second and enter scoring position, but the side was retired before he could do more—extra innings forced.

In the top of the tenth, the Aces turned to Michael Gillen, a rising sophomore out of Seton Hall. Gillen answered the call terrifically, retiring the Giants swiftly in three batters. Gillen would go on to be named the night’s winning pitcher—his first win of the season to go along with two saves.

With a chance to win it in the bottom frame of the tenth, the Aces went down two outs with no men on base. A single from Aces’ Nick Gregory of Ball State University gave the offense life, putting the winning run aboard. Following his act, Tim Nicholson grounded what should have been a routine inning-ending out to shortstop, but a critical E-6 put the throw to first in the dirt, and Nicholson advanced safely. With two on and two out, Aces’ RJ Hamilton, a Vanderbilt commit out of Hoover, Alabama, approached the plate with his head bobbing to “Russian Creme” by Key Glock—his coined walk-up song. Cool, calm, and collected, RJ crushed the first pitch he saw, sending a walk-off moon shot into the night over left field, a three-run home run.

“It feels so good that my work in the lab is all coming out to fruition,” Hamilton said. “It was a really good moment for me and my teammates . . . it’s special having the Alexandria community come out and support this team.”

Aces head coach Chris Berset offered high praise for Hamilton in the aftermath of the game: “What a special kid, very respectable young man; just credit to his parents for raising him so well. Vandy is getting a special one,” Berset said.

The Aces, now with their win streak extended to seven, will look to settle down from last night’s high before locking in for a road double-header this afternoon at the Olney Cropdusters. The Cropdusters, despite coming in off a loss last night against the Silver Spring Thunderbolts (5-11), lead the Northern Division with a 13-5 record. The Cropdusters gave the Aces their first loss of the new season on June 11th, a 6-4 defeat.

“We have a great team [today] that we’re playing in the Cropdusters,” Berset said. “Day in, day out, it’s a little bit of a grind.”

The Aces face a four-game road trip through Saturday before returning for an extended home stand, with games at the Frank July 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 7th, and 8th.

“We are looking forward to a well-attended home stand,” Aces Team President Frank Fannon said.

The Alexandria Aces Celebrate 17 Years With a 15-5 Win Over The South County Braves

By Peter Rainey

The Alexandria Aces (8-2) celebrated the 17th anniversary of their inception last night with a 15-5 victory over the visiting Metro South County Braves (4-7) at Frank Mann Field. Team co-founder Patrick Malone threw out the ceremonial first pitch prior to the ballgame.

“I see this program growing every year,” Malone said. “Chris Berset (head coach) has got a good program with the Aces. What he’s done [with] Jen Hammond (assistant coach), and then coach [Chris] Rooney (assistant coach); the three of them are a good core that we got here.”

The Aces bounced back in a big way offensively with last night’s victory, bringing across 15 runs just a night after being shut out by the rival Bethesda Big Train (10-2). Aces’ Tim Nicholson of George Washington University headlined the rallying Aces, adding five RBIs, highlighted by a three-RBI double that cleared loaded bases in the fifth inning.

“We have guys all around, so it’s really fun to hit in front of guys that are going to Vanderbilt and Auburn. I just kind of put good swings on, and guys happened to be on base,” Nicholson said. He’s set to enter his junior season with the Colonials next year.

A pair of Allegheny College standouts earned the pitching honors of last night’s victory: Aces’ Brent Herrmann tallied a relief win after pitching the Aces out of two innings with no earned runs; his teammate Mark Schweickert finished the job by dealing a scoreless ninth inning to earn the save.

“I had to come out and revive my team a little; you know, just had a flame lit under my butt again.” Herrmann said, boasting his effectiveness in getting the Aces out of a 4th inning jam where he was called to service. Herrmann now carries an impressive 1.92 ERA through three mound appearances for the Aces.

The Aces are back in action this afternoon on the road versus the Gaithersburg Giants (4-6), a team they shut out just five nights ago on home dirt. Ryan Edmonds of George Mason University will make the start for the Aces.

“[Edmonds] threw fantastic for us against the Cropdusters last time, so I’m really excited to see him,” Aces head coach Chris Berset said. Edmonds tossed five full innings in his start last week versus the Cropdusters; today will be his second appearance. First pitch for tonight’s ballgame is set for 4:00 PM at Kelley Park.

Aces Fall to the Big Train 0-5, Return to Play Tonight vs. South County

By Peter Rainey

The Alexandria Aces (7-2) are looking to bounce back tonight following a tough loss yesterday to the now Cal Ripken League-leading Bethesda Big Train (9-2) by a final score of 5-0. The Aces were shut out for the first time this season as the Big Train dealt near flawlessly across three different Division I pitchers—Davion Hickson of Florida State University earned a relief win for Bethesda, pitching through four full innings.

“You’ve got to give credit where credit is due; those were some phenomenal arms out there,” Aces head coach Chris Berset said, crediting Bethesda. “That’s part of what summer ball is; I want my guys to see that kind of pitching.”

The Aces will look to get back into the win column tonight as they return to action at home against the Metro South County Braves (4-6); first pitch is set for 6:30 PM at Frank Mann Field.

“These boys are understanding of how I want them to play, and we are really excited for the rest of the year,” said Berset. “Tomorrow (now today) is a new chance to execute.”

Aces Dominant Through the First Week of Ripken League Play

By Peter Rainey

At any level of baseball, defending a championship carries pressure and expectations. Through one full week of play in the 2023 edition of the Cal Ripken Senior Collegiate Baseball League, the Alexandria Aces have answered the call about as well as one could. After six games played, the Aces carry a commanding 5-1 record and lead the Ripken League standings. Resilience on the road has been a major key to the team’s early success—the Aces impressively earned three wins out of a four-game road trip last weekend.

“It’s great to see the boys clicking; to see them have that success early takes some pressure off of [the coaches],” assistant coach Jen Hammond said.

The Aces’ bats have been a nightmare for opponents through the first week; after six games, the team is averaging less than two decimal points south of 10 runs per game (9.83). I was able to catch up with the hottest bat we could offer, Cory Taylor of Eastern Michigan, prior to last night’s home win over the Gaithersburg Giants.

“I know that early on in my career I would overthink things, but now I’m just telling myself to go up there and trust it, and it’s paying off,” Taylor said—he sent out two home runs in a 14-9 win at the South County Braves last Saturday.

Aces starter Anthony Ehly of Seton Hall highlighted a dominant evening for the Aces defense as they shut out the visiting Gaithersburg Giants last night, holding them to just three hits. Ehly dealt six scoreless innings in route to a 5-0 Aces victory—good for Ehly’s second win of the young season.

“I just took command and located my fastball and slider,” said Ehly. “Now we just look at that zero (on the scoreboard) and carry it over.” Ehly delivered eight strikeouts in last night’s win over Gaithersburg.

As referenced by Ehly, the Aces will look to carry over last night’s momentum on the road tonight at the South Maryland Senators (2-4), a make-up game after their scheduled bout last week was postponed due to poor air quality. The two will meet tonight at Regency Furniture Stadium, home of the AAA Southern Maryland Blue Crabs, for a 7:00 PM first pitch.

“Everybody’s excited to roll . . . We know that we have an opportunity with every game,” assistant coach Hammond said.

Aces Thump The Thunderbolts in 11-3 Opening Night Win

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.

Champions Return: The Alexandria Aces 2023 Opening Night

By Peter Rainey

The Alexandria Aces open their 2023 regular season in the Cal Ripken Senior Collegiate Baseball League tonight at 6:30 PM versus the Silver Spring Thunderbolts. The Aces, led by head coach Chris Berset, enter their 2023 campaign as the league’s defending champions; the team swept the postseason last year with 2-0 series wins in the league semifinals and championship.

“There may be some teams coming for us … They always want to knock off the champ,” said Berset. “These boys are excited for that … With basically a whole new squad, nothing changes in our goal to develop and set the expectation of a championship-caliber team.” Berset is set to begin his fourth season at the helm of the Aces; as aforementioned, he led the team to a league championship in 2022.

Opening the season on the mound for the Aces is Seton Hall standout Anthony Ehly. Ehly, a rising sophomore, tossed for an impressive 2.53 ERA in nine appearances with the Pirates this season, including four saves.

“Looking to attack the hitters, be competitive, and play to win,” Ehly said.

The Aces will open the season tonight on home turf at Frank Mann Field. The ticket booth opens at 5:30 PM ($5 entry), with pre-game festivities beginning at 6:00 PM prior to a 6:30 PM first pitch. Can’t make it in person? Follow the team’s live online broadcast at

History in Alexandria. Aces derail Big Train for first championship.

By Chris Damond

Alexandria is now the city of champions. After securing the regular season title last week, the first-seeded Alexandria Aces downed the second-seeded Bethesda Big Train, 5-3, on Saturday night at Shirley Povich Field to win the Cal Ripken League Championship for the first time in team history.  

Alexandria swept Bethesda, 2-0, in the best-of-three series and stopped them from winning its sixth consecutive title. The Aces went a perfect 4-0 in the playoffs on their way to victory.  

Both teams went back and forth for much of the night until the ninth inning, when tied at 3, the Aces broke through with two runs to put the game away. 

Dylan Koontz (Campbell) led off the ninth with a walk, advancing to second on CJ Boyd’s (Appalachian State) groundout in the next at-bat. Then, on his steal attempt, the Big Train committed one of their three costly errors on the night. Catcher Baylor Cobb missed the throw to third, bringing Koontz home for the go-ahead run.  

Moments later, Cade Sullivan (Western Michigan) launched a solo homer and was mobbed by his teammates after trotting the bases. It was Sullivan’s third home run of the playoffs. A thunderous “Let’s Go Aces” chant followed by the Alexandria faithful and, for a second, it seemed like everyone was back at Frank Mann Field. 

All-star Ryan Brown closed out the game with a quick 1-2-3 inning. After his strikeout to retire the side, the Aces – along with staff, family and more – rushed the field to celebrate.   

“It feels unbelievable. I can’t even put it into words,” series MVP Eddie Hacopian (Maryland) said. “We just came out there, and out dogged them from start to finish. That was our motto all year – just dogs being dogs.”  

The Potomac, Maryland, native was just minutes away from his hometown when the Aces won the championship in Bethesda at Shirley Povich Field.  

On whether that added any additional meaning to the victory, Hacopian said, “I’d be lying if I said it didn’t, but anywhere I could win it with this group of guys is really awesome.”  

Hacopian, the Aces leadoff hitter, recorded four hits in the series and scored the first run on Saturday after Adam Tellier (Ball State) smacked a double that bounced off the center field wall in the third.  

Starting pitcher Sasha Kamenjasevic, one of two Canadiens on the team, pitched three scoreless innings. But Bethesda still had several baserunners early on, and after Kamenjasevic allowed a leadoff single in the fourth, fellow Canadien and University of Fraser Valley teammate, Josh Berenbaum, entered the game and retired three straight batters.  

The Aces held a 1-0 lead until the fifth, when Bethesda plated two runs to go ahead. Alexandria equalized in the sixth thanks to Connor Offshack’s (Elon) RBI single, but the Big Train scored once more in the bottom half of the inning to take a 3-2 lead.  

With two outs in the seventh, Koontz lofted a ball that curved towards the left-field line for a triple. Boyd hit a grounder right to the shortstop in the next at-bat, but the first baseman dropped the ball, which took a short hop, allowing Koontz to come home and tie the game.  

Boyd, who started the game in left field, then pitched a shutout eighth inning that ended in a double play. 

In 2021, the Aces made the championship but were swept by Bethesda. This year, celebrating their 15th season in the league, they finally broke through.  

Alexandria Aces


Aces 5 8 2
Big Train 3 6 3

Bethesda Big Train


Aces take Game 1 of the LCS Championship against the Big Train.

By Chris Damond

Frank Mann Field was packed on Friday night for Game 1 of the LCS Championship. 360 Aces and Big Train fans flooded the bleachers, stood by the fences and cheered until their voices were hoarse as the action unfolded.  

In perhaps the biggest game the Alexandria Aces have ever played, they outslugged the Bethesda Big Train, 8-6, to win Game 1 of the LCS Championship. First-seeded Alexandria now leads the second-seeded Big Train in the best-of-three series, 1-0.  

“It was really just a team effort, Adam Tellier (Ball State), who had a team-high three RBI, said. “From pitching to defense to hitting, we were able to come together and put one together for us.”  

The Aces were hot early, building an 8-2 lead through six innings. Tellier, Alexandria’s regular season leader in batting average and hits, blew the game open with his two-run homer to left field in the fourth, putting the Aces up 4-0.  

“At that moment, I was just trying to do whatever it took to get the win,” Tellier said about his home run. 

While Alexandria built a lead, starting pitcher Matt DeLano (MGCCC) kept Bethesda at bay. He pitched five scoreless innings and allowed just two hits on his way to picking up the win.  

DeLano showcased his strong arm on Friday night with both his pitches and pickoff attempts. In the fourth, he spectacularly threw out a runner at second. The Mississippi native faced several runners in scoring position throughout the game, but he stayed calm and got out of the jams.  

“Every time I go out there, [I’m] making sure [I’m] focusing, getting ahead in the counts, and putting batters away,” DeLano said pre-game. He certainly did that on Friday.  

As if their four-run lead wasn’t enough, Alexandria doubled its tally in the sixth to energize the crowd even more. Leadoff hitter Eddie Hacopian (Maryland) got the party started, as his grounder was thrown over the head of the Bethesda first baseman, allowing Brendan Harrity (Western Michigan) to score from first. It was one of the Big Train’s two errors in the game. 

Tellier doubled to plate Hacopian in the next at-bat, before stealing third and scoring off a wild pitch. Dylan Koontz (Campbell) walked right after and eventually came home after another wild pitch.  

But the Big Train, winners of the past five LCS Championships, would not go away quietly. As the rain started to come down, they turned it on with a four-run inning of their own in the seventh, scoring all their runs with two outs.  

In the eighth, they threatened once more with runners on first and second. Alexandria native Ryan Osinski (Bucknell) retired the side, though, as Bethesda hit a grounder that Connor Offshack (Elon) fielded before tapping third base to end the inning. 

Osinski closed out the game in the ninth with a quick 1-2-3 inning. He picked up the save.  

Both teams had eight hits.  

Alexandria is now one win away from its first championship in team history. Last season, they finally broke through and made the finals but were swept by the Big Train. This year is different. The Aces won the regular season title for the first time ever last week, picking up the number one seed in the playoffs and securing home field advantage. They held onto it tonight.   

The Aces will try to win the title tomorrow at Shirley Povich Field in Game 2 of the LCS Championship. First pitch is at 7:00 p.m.  

Bethesda Big Train


Big Train 6 8 2
Aces 8 8 3

Alexandria Aces


Aces advance to LCS Championship for second consecutive year after eliminating Metropolitan

By Chris Damond

The Alexandria Aces are headed to the LCS Championship for the second consecutive year, and they did it by smacking four home runs in a 12-4 rout of the Metropolitan Braves at South County High School on Wednesday night.  

Alexandria’s victory in Game 2 of the LCS Semifinals gave them a 2-0 sweep against Metropolitan in the best-of-three series.  

In typical Aces fashion, they started off slow, before exploding for 10 runs in the final four frames to put the game away.  

At the center of Alexandria’s offense were Western Michigan teammates Cade Sullivan and Brendan Harrity. Sullivan put the Aces on the board with his solo homer in the second and then had another in the seventh.  

Harrity had three doubles in his four at-bats, including one that took a wonky bounce off first base that plated two runs in the eighth. He finished with a team-high three RBI.  

With a 5’10” and 170-pound frame, Harrity isn’t the biggest guy on the team, but his technique makes up for it. 

“[Just] keeping short to the ball, letting it get deep and letting it catch the barrel,” Harrity said on how he hits for power.  

The second baseman is batting .500 throughout the playoffs. Only two Aces have higher averages – Eddie Hacopian (.600) and Cade Law (1.000), who entered the game late and blasted a homer that bounced off the scoreboard in the ninth.  

But before the offensive onslaught, Metropolitan scored three quick runs off starting pitcher Britt Yount (George Mason) in the first, taking a lead that would hold for five more innings.  

The turning point came in the sixth with the Braves hanging on to a 3-2 lead. Connor Offshack (Elon) ripped a two-run shot that he watched soar over the left field wall before dramatically flipping his bat and trotting around the bases. The homer put Alexandria ahead 4-3.  

Alexandria native and Alexandria City High School graduate Reese Crochet (George Washington) replaced Yount in the sixth and picked up the win. He pitched two innings of one-run baseball. Brody Valentine (Salve Regina) and Josh Berenbaum (U Fraser Valley) closed out the game in the eighth and ninth, respectively.  

Nick Frazier was tagged with the loss. Alexandria drilled 13 hits compared to the Braves’ seven. It was a great bounce-back game for the Cal Ripken League’s number one offense, who were held to a measly four runs the day before.  

Now, the first-seeded Aces will face the second-seeded Bethesda Big Train, winners of the past five titles, in the LCS Championship. 

 Last season, Bethesda swept Alexandria in the best-of-three series, but the Aces are riding a high after clinching their first regular season title in team history, which gives them home field advantage in the championship. That bodes well for Alexandria, who haven’t lost at home since June 21.  

“We’re just gonna keep playing our game, keep playing aggressive and loose,” Harrity said. 

Game 1 is Friday at Frank Mann Field. First pitch is at 6:30.  

Alexandria Aces


Aces 12 13 1
Braves 4 7 2

South County Braves


Aces win Game 1 of the LCS Semifinals against Braves

By Chris Damond

On a day when the Cal Ripken League’s best offense wasn’t up to its lofty standards, Alexandria’s pitching came through. Three Aces pitchers combined to allow one earned run and five hits, giving Alexandria a 4-2 victory over the Metropolitan Braves in Game One of the LCS Semifinals at Frank Mann Field on Tuesday afternoon.  

“That was big,” Alexandria native Ryan Osinski (Bucknell), who pitched 3.1 innings of one-hit baseball in relief of Jacob Hartlaub, said. “I saw some people I knew in the stands, which was really nice. [The win] felt awesome, and I’m just happy to be a part of it.” 

The first-seeded Aces now lead the best-of-three series against the fifth-seeded Braves, 1-0. 

Osinski entered in the fifth after Metropolitan scored the first run of the game and immediately recorded a strikeout to retire the side. The St. Stephens St. Agnes graduate picked up the win, striking out four batters and allowing zero earned runs.  

“The fastball no one seemed to hit,” Osinski said. “Mixing that in with the changeup really seemed solid today, so I’m happy with that … [Jacob Hartlaub] went five innings and allowed one run, so he made it easy for me, and the offense helped out, too. They got runs when I needed it and having that run support is the biggest thing for a pitcher, so that was really nice.” 

Starting pitcher Jacob Hartlaub (Ball State), who pitched eight innings of one-hit baseball last week against Metropolitan, continued his dominance by striking out three Braves in the first. He finished with eight strikeouts in 4.2 innings pitched.  

But while Hartlaub excelled, Metropolitan pitcher Kristian Asbury shut down the Aces, a team that batted a league-high .303 in the regular season. Through four innings, the game was scoreless. 

Metropolitan struck in the fifth and sixth, though, but the Aces responded each time in the bottom half of the inning. After six, it was a 2-2 ball game.  

Then, in the seventh, Alexandria took its first lead of the game. Back-to-back bunts by Eddie Hacopian (Maryland) and Adam Tellier (Ball State) put them on first and second, before CJ Boyd (Appalachian State) walked to load the bases with two outs. 

A balk put the Aces ahead, and Cade Sullivan (Western Michigan) added an insurance run with his RBI single. Ryan Brown (Ball State) picked up the save.  

Alexandria managed to register 10 hits on Tuesday but left 12 runners on base. They also recorded an uncharacteristic three fielding errors, one of which led to an unearned run. 

However, the Aces were dominant on the basepaths, stealing five bases throughout the game to get into scoring position. Adam Tellier, Alexandria’s leader in steals, had a team-high two on the day.   

Now, the Aces travel to South County High School tomorrow for Game 2 of the LCS Semifinals. If Alexandria wins, it’ll eliminate the Metropolitan Braves from the playoffs and advance to the LCS Championship. First pitch is at 7:00 p.m. 

South County Braves


Braves 2 5 0
Aces 4 10 3

Alexandria Aces