By John Bombatch
XENIA — It took nine innings, but Xenia managed to beat an impending storm AND the Galion Graders on Wednesday night at Grady’s Field.
With Jacob Chrysler perched on third base and one out in the bottom of the ninth inning, Adrian Marquez hit a strong grounder to Galion second baseman Matt Carpenter. With Chrysler chugging his way toward home plate on contact, Carpenter fired to Graders catcher Shawn Tyler. But the Ball State University catcher couldn’t get a handle on the ball and Chrysler slid headfirst across home plate for the only run.
“We struggled a little bit offensively tonight. We just couldn’t string some hits together when we needed them. Even when we did score, we scored on a fielder’s choice play. And to be honest, I’m not sure (Chrysler) touched the plate. He was close to it, and the umpire called him safe. They were all bunched up together, so maybe he was.
“Adrian hit that ball hard, and their second baseman snow coned the ball a little bit, and it appeared that he didn’t really have a good feel for that one,” Scouts manager Bubba Cates said. “We were just fortunate.”
Cates credited starter Noah Jones with a solid outing. Jones went 8 1/3 innings and gave up just five hits, then Matthew Wade came in and closed out the Graders’ top of the ninth on a one-pitch 1-6-3 double play to get the pitching win.
Chrysler got on base with a walk against Galion’s reliever Ricky Krieger, of Tiffin University. The Mount Vernon Nazarene College senior then reached second on Caleb Bloye’s sacrifice bunt back to Krieger. He then raced to third on a rare passed ball that got by Tyler. That set up Marquez’ sharp hit to Ohio State’s Carpenter at second that ultimately scored the speeding Chrysler.
“Adrian and I kinda had some eye contact, and I thought of maybe him bunting the ball right there,” Cates, who was coaching at third base, said. “It wouldn’t really be a squeeze, but almost like a safety squeeze bunt to get him in. … But Jacob (Chrysler)’s a fast runner, and that really helped us in that situation.”
Teammates doused Marquez with their water bottles after the game. And with severe storms forecast to roll in from the west, the two teams quickly cleared Grady’s Field. They moved their post-game prayer and post-game meal together to a safer locale.
Xenia’s win, combined with Hamilton’s 9-3 home win on Wednesday over the Lake Erie Monarchs, keeps the two teams tied in first place in the Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League’s South Division with identical 21-12 records.
Galion falls to 10-24 in the GLSCL North.
Xenia will host the Richmond Jazz for a 7:05 p.m. game tonight at Grady’s Field. They’ll then travel to Richmond to finish up the home-and-home series at McBride Stadium against the same Jazz squad at 7:05 p.m. Friday.