The Alexandria Aces concluded a historic season July 29 with a 7-3 loss to the Bethesda Big Train in the Cal Ripken League Championship Series. The Big Train clinched their sixth league title in seven years with the win. The Aces entered the 2023 postseason as the league’s top seed, finishing the regular season with a record of 30 wins and six losses, the all-time best win percentage in Cal Ripken League history.
“Pretty fantastic year; obviously it didn’t end in a way you want to play where you’re winning a championship, but you know a lot to hold your head high about,” said Aces head coach Chris Berset. “At the end of the day, hat tip to Bethesda … they earned every bit of that championship.”
The Cal Ripken Summer Collegiate Baseball League is a summer wooden-bat league composed of college athletes from around the country who descend upon the DMV to compete in the eight-team league from the start of June through July. The league’s goal is to allow these athletes additional competitive reps in the college offseason, with a focus on player development—out-of-towners reside at the homes of volunteer host families throughout the summer. The Aces competed hard and developed terrific team chemistry during their short, two-month sprint of a season in Alexandria under Berset.
Aces’ Matt Ossenfort, a Vanderbilt commit from Sioux Falls, S.D., offered some comment.
“I am very grateful for Coach Berset; he helped me out a lot, helped me take that step from high school to college, and I’ll be forever grateful for him,” said Ossenfort, who is now set to begin his freshman season in Nashville with his Aces teammate, RJ Hamilton, at Vanderbilt.
“[Vanderbilt] is gonna get some dogs coming in,” said Hamilton, referring to himself and Ossenfort. “Some dogs that’re hungry, that’re ready to go back to Omaha and win it this year.” The NCAA Division I Men’s College World Series is held in Omaha, Neb.. Vanderbilt baseball last won the National Championship in 2019.
The Aces’ regular season shattered already high expectations coming off of a championship victory last year; a 30-6 mark in regular season play set a league record 83.3 percentage. The Aces clinched the league’s number one seed with a week of the regular season left to play, holding a 26-3 record at the time. A 17-game winning streak spanning from June 16 to July 13 also set a new league record.
“Just a credit to [the players] to come in day in day out . . . lot[s] to be excited about for their futures,” Berset said. “Along in their journey, I hope they learn something from here, from Alexandria, that they can take to their schools and continue to progress in their journeys in baseball.”
Team owner Frank Fannon is proud of the team’s accomplishments.
“Despite the tough ending to the season the Aces and the Alexandria community can hold their heads high for the many accomplishments the Aces had,” Fannon said. “We set a Cal Ripken collegiate baseball league record with the highest winning percentage for the regular season at .833 percent with a regular season record of 30–6. We also had a 17-game winning streak that shattered the long-standing league record of 12.”
The players have now left Alexandria and returned to their home states across the country.
“With the expanded seating at the stadium the Aces set an attendance record in 2023,” Fannon added. “We look forward to Coach Berset recruiting another great team over the winter and the 2024 Alexandria Aces will report to Alexandria on June 1, 2024, for another promising season of Aces baseball. A special thanks to all the fans, sponsors and volunteers for making the 2023 season one to remember.”