XENIA — After Thursday’s rain had subsided, Xenia Scouts manager Bubba Cates said he hoped to see some “thunder and lightning.”
No. The second-year coach wasn’t meteorologically challenged. He just wanted to see some big hits from his Scouts lineup.
And the Scouts didn’t disappoint.
Xenia pounded out 11 hits, including a pair of home runs, to “storm” past the visiting Richmond Jazz, 9-2, at the Athletes In Action Sports Complex’ Grady’s Field.
“That was a little better. We had rain early, and thunder and lightning late,” Cates said after the win. “Those home runs were big for us, because it gave us some breathing room. With that, I was able to get a lot of players in the game — I think we played everybody but one utility player tonight — and I really like when we are able to do that. I like getting the whole team involved.”
Starters Jorge Lozano of Xenia, and Richmond’s Joe Pourier were locked into a scoreless pitching duel in the early going. Neither team could muster a run through the first four and a half innings of play. But then Xenia had a huge fifth inning.
The Scouts sent 10 batters to the plate, and Evan McDonald scored three of them with a home run over the left field fence.
Jacob Chrysler scored on a Jazz infield error, then Aaron Vallance came home on a single by Birthday Boy Chandler Atkins. Jeremy Barth then moved Atkins along with a single to center, and then McDonald smacked the home run to bring everybody else home. Xenia scored six runs in the inning.
Atkins reportedly turned 20 years old Thursday night, and Richmond gave him three gifts. The Lipscomb University standout got on base in the first when Richmond’s left fielder dropped a fly ball. He then got to second on his next at-bat thanks to a throwing error by the Jazz’s third baseman, and then in the eighth inning, when he hit a towering fly ball to right that Richmond’s right fielder completely lost in the clouds. Atkins ended up on third on that miscue.
So Atkins reached first base, second and third on Richmond errors, nearly completing a bizarre error-prone cycle of sorts.
Richmond pecked back with a run off a sacrifice fly in the sixth inning, and then Ried Pittard doubled home another run in the seventh. But Xenia picked up a solo home run by Colt Wolfe and then tagged on two more runs in the eighth for the game’s final margin.
Lozano pitched six innings of two-hit ball, then relievers Nick Cecil, Kyle Brunner and Trenton Wood combined efforts through the final three innings to seal the win.
Xenia entered the game in a first-place tie with the Hamilton Joes in the Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League North Division, and as of presstime it looked as they would remain knotted up with identical 22-12 records. Hamilton was leading Licking County by a 14-0 score through four innings of play Thursday night in Newark.
The Scouts return to action at 7:05 today with a game at the Richmond Jazz’s McBride Stadium.