By John Bombatch
XENIA — The Xenia Scouts’ bats may have taken an All-Star break before the players, on Sunday.
Cincinnati’s Shane Smith limited Xenia to a pair of hits and one run scored through eighth innings of play, to lead the Steam to a 9-2 win at Grady’s Field, on the Athletes in Action Sports Complex.
The Miami University righthander took advantage of an early 4-0 Cincinnati lead in the first inning, and never allowed Xenia to get back into the game.
“We had a tough first inning, because they hit a lot of balls where we weren’t standing,” Xenia coach Bubba Cates said. “They hit a few balls hard, but they didn’t hit a lot of balls hard. So you kinda feel like eventually things are going to go your way. They reeled off nine hits in the first three innings and they were just hitting them between our defense.”
As the late New York Yankees great Yogi Berra would say, they “hit them where they ain’t.”
Cincinnati collected 18 hits in the game, and half of those came in the first three innings. The Steam had the bases loaded on nine different occasions and scored in each of those four innings. The other inning they scored was the eighth inning, when lead-off hitter Zach Beckner hit a solo home run.
Beckner was 4-for-6 with a double, home run and two runs scored. Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League all-stars Jake Richmond, Cole Murphy, Dallas Hall and Fairborn/Wright State product Brandon Giltrow combined to hit 11 times in 20 at-bats, walking three times, scoring four runs and knocking in the other five.
The crushing blow to any possible Xenia momentum may have come in the second inning. That’s when Colt Wolfe smacked a low line drive that looked as if it would fly over the left-field fencing for a solo home run. But instead, Hall reached over the fence to rob Wolfe of the homer.
“The home run would’ve been a momentum builder for us, but now it’s like an 180-degree turn against us,” Cates said. “It’s different than a line drive hit right at the third baseman. Colt’s shot was gonna be out of the park and was gonna give us a run. That hurt.”
Adrian Marquez scored on Aaron Vallance’s infield groundout for the first Scouts run. Xenia’s Ryan O’Hearn, Evan McDonald and Wolfe collected hits off Steam reliever Alex Dickey in the ninth, scoring O’Hearn with the team’s only other run of the night.
The GLSCL All-Star Game takes place at 7:05 p.m. tonight at Prasco Park in Mason. Four Xenia Scouts — pitchers Jorge Lozano and Matthew Wade, catcher McDonald, and outfielder Jeremy Barth — were named to the South Division team. Cates will share managerial duties with South Division co-leader Darrel Grissom of the Hamilton Joes.
After the All-Star break, Cates and Grissom will battle each other for a home-and-home series, starting at 7:05 p.m. Thursday at Hamilton’s Foundation Field. The two teams are currently tied for the South Division lead with 24-13 records.
Xenia will host Hamilton for a 7:05 contest on Friday, then they have a doubleheader against the Licking County Settlers at 5:05 and 7:35 p.m. Saturday at Newark’s Don Edwards Stadium. The Scouts will then close out the GLSCL regular season with a 4:05 p.m. home game against the Settlers, Sunday at Grady’s Field, in the Athletes In Action Sports Complex.