After years of facing one another while they competed for rival schools in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference, Bethesda Big Train pitcher Tayler Stiles and catcher Justin Morris made their debut together as a battery on Sunday evening.
Stiles (2-0) tossed five scoreless innings and fanned eight batters and Morris collected two hits in four at-bats as the Big Train defeated the Gaithersburg Giants, 5-0. Stiles, a rising sophomore at the University of Maryland and Morris, a rising freshman at Maryland are scheduled to form a battery at College Park for the next three years. Sunday marked the first time Morris had ever caught Stiles at any level.
Bethesda (13-1) scored four runs in the top of the third against Gaithersburg starter Ryan Selmer, a Riverdale Baptist graduate and red-shirt freshman at Maryland. Morris started the inning with an infield single and scored on a double by Logan Farrar. Then in the fourth, Morris drove in another run on a single as the Big Train forged a 5-0 lead and chased Selmer.
“I thought I swung the bat pretty well,” said Morris, who was drafted in the 35th round by the Arizona Diamondbacks but plans to play at Maryland for at least the next three years. “It was good to be able to get back on the field and behind the plate. Tayler threw really well. I’ve played with him and I’ve played against him, but tonight was the first time that I had the chance to catch him. He’s really good.”
Stiles threw strikes on 48 of 78 pitches and departed after five innings, primarily by design. Stiles had been a starter at Bishop McNamara, but he spent most of his freshman season at Maryland pitching out of the bullpen. In 22 appearances he threw 46.2 innings, struck out 34 batters and went 5-2, including two wins in the Region Tournament that Maryland won for the first time in 43 years.
“I felt good,” Stiles said. “I mainly threw my fastball and slider. I was able to spot my fastball and I thought my slider was pretty good. That’s my main goal this summer to work on my breaking pitches. It was great having Justin behind the plate. He called a great game. I’m looking forward to having him catch me at Maryland for three years.”
Gaithersburg (7-7) coach Jeff Rabberman liked what he saw from Selmer through the first two innings, noting the tall right-handed hurler was an injury redshirt at Maryland this spring. But a few defensive lapses allowed the Big Train to forge a comfortable 5-0 lead after four innings, a steep hill to climb against Stiles.
“Considering that he had not pitched in a year, I thought Ryan threw well for two innings,” Rabberman said. “He had good movement, good velocity and he was getting ahead of the hitters. He was a little unlucky in the third. I thought we could have gotten out of that inning down two runs. But four runs is tough to get back.”
Bethesda finally got to Selmer in the third. Morris led off with a single and designated hitter Kevin Tatum, a rising senior at Cornell University, followed with a single. After Stephen Alemais sacrificed bunted to advance both runners, Farrar followed with a double down the left field line that scored Morris and Tatum.
Brandon Lowe, a rising sophomore at Maryland, worked Selmer for a walk and then both Farrar and Lowe successfully executed a double steal. Giants’ catcher Alex Falconi sailed his throw wide of third base, enabling Farrar to score easily and Lowe to take third. Lowe then scored on a groundout by Ryne Willard. Bethesda added a run in the fifth when Cody Brown singled, stole second and scored on a single by Morris.
Bethesda Big Train 5, Gaithersburg Giants 0
Bethesda (13-1) 0 0 4 1 0 0 0 0 0 - 5
Gaithersburg (7-7) 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 - 0
WP - Tayler Stiles - LP - Ryan Selmer - 2B - BBT - Logan Farrar 1, Chris Lewis 1 - RBI - BBT - Logan Farrar 2, Ryne Willard 1, Justin Morris 1