By John Bombatch
XENIA — First place.
After four wins in two days, the Xenia Scouts (16-8) are now in first place in the Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League’s South Division.
First, they claimed a pair of road wins over the Irish Hills Leprechauns, in a Wednesday night doubleheader up in Adrian, Mich.
Then after a nearly 4-hour bus ride back into Xenia, the Scouts got back to Grady’s Field and faced the then-division leading Cincinnati Steam (now 14-9) and … steam rolled them! Twice.
Xenia defeated Cincinnati 6-1 in Thursday’s first game.
Xenia then earned a 3-2 win in the second game to vault past both the Steam and the Hamilton Joes (who won a game on Thursday over the GLSCL North leading Lima Locos) into first place. Hamilton is now in second place with a 15-8 mark.
“We’ve pitched awfully well,” Scouts manager Bubba Cates said. “Late in the first game, I was thinking to myself that the last five games that we’ve been in have been a shutout, either us or them. (Usually “us.”) And I’m thinking in the sixth inning that we’re fixin’ to be in another one right here. Our guys have really pitched well, both starting — like Noah (Jones) and Jorge (Lozano) did tonight, and in relief like Walter (Rook IV) and Matthew (Wade) did in that first game, and Adrian (Peraza) and Matthew did in the second one.”
The Scouts pitchers silenced the bat of GLSCL home run leader Cole Murphy, of Cincinnati. Murphy has nine dingers thus far this season, but Xenia pitchers left him 0-for-5 with four strikeouts and a walk.
“He does have a lot of strikeouts (29 in 22 games). We noticed that on the scouting sheets, but he has a lot of home runs and doubles, too. He’s a player that can turn the game around with a swing of his bat. … He’s a good player, a dangerous guy at the plate, and he’s gonna force you to make good pitches,” Cates said.
In the first game, Xenia grabbed a 1-0 lead in the first when Jeremy Barth drove in John Sharpe from second with a single to center. Sharpe was making his first return to action since June 16, due to a concussion. The Lipscomb University freshman played as if he’d never missed an at-bat, and singled in his first time up.
“It would take me a few at-bats to get into a rhythm, but not him. That was nice to see,” added Cates.
The big inning in Game 1 came in the fourth when Xenia scored four runs on single by Chandler Adkins, a double by Adrian “Queso” Marquez a walk by Ryan “Ryno” O’Hearn, a sacrifice fly by Aaron Valance and a bases clearing three-run double by Jeremy Barth … who did an impressive celebratory Dab pose while standing on second base.
The Scouts grabbed the lead for good in Game 2 when Cary Holloway scampered in to score from third on a wild pitch, and Sharpe scored on Barth’s infield groundout.
Jones struckout five Steam batters and gave up five hits and one run to claim the Game 1 win; Lozano went five innings and fanned three Cincinnati batters and yielding three hits to get the win in Game 2. Wade earned the save in the second game, as well.
Both teams will play each other again at 7:05 p.m. tonight, but it will be at Cincinnati’s McLeary Field, which is at Western Hills High School.