By John Bombatch
XENIA — His team had just clinched the Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League’s South Division title and the no. 2 seeding in the entire post season tournament, so a little bit (okay, a lot) of cold, frigid water didn’t seem to bother Xenia manager Bubba Cates.
Xenia (27-15) defeated Licking County, 7-1, to clinch the franchise’s first-ever division crown, Sunday on a rain-soaked Grady’s Field.
“We are the FIRST to win the South Division. So that will always be in print somewhere,” Cates said with a smile. This season marked the first year for the GLSCL to divide the teams up into North and South divisions.
The Scouts needed nearly 2 hours to get nine batters through the third inning of play, scoring five runs.
Okay there was a 1 hour and 45 minute rain delay, but still. It was a big inning for Xenia.
John Sharpe doubled, Jeremy Barth drew a walk, then both advanced on Evan McDonald’s single. Sharpe then raced home with the game’s first run on Colt Wolfe’s sacrifice fly to deep center. Adrian Marquez then singled to advance McDonald and score Barth. Caleb Bloye then singled to advance “Queso” Marquez and score McDonald, then Cary Holloway doubled to left field to bring home both Marquez and Bloye. Xenia was out in front, 5-0.
Xenia tagged on its final two runs of the game in dramatic fashion. McDonald and Wolfe smacked back-to-back solo home runs over the left field fence to put the Scouts out in front, 7-0.
Robert Emery singled in Luke Phillips with the lone Settlers run, but this was just Xenia’s day.
“It was just Adrian’s day,” Cates said in reference to Scouts starting pitcher Adrian Paraza. The East Los Angeles junior righty started the game at 4:05 p.m., sat in the dugout for the game’s first 30-minute rain delay at around 5 p.m., was still sitting around through the 1 hour, 45-minute delay in the third inning, came back out onto the mound and threw six long innings of six-hit baseball, giving up one run.
“He’s the one guy on our staff that can sit through lightning delays and all that, and he’ll come up to you and say ‘Coach, I can pitch all-day today, and I’ll go tomorrow if you need me to,’” Cates laughed. “He just sits around and waits until it’s time again, and then he goes back out like it’s no big deal. … The right guy was throwing for us today, we were really fortunate that he was out there on the mound for us today. That’s a very good Licking County team that we faced over there.”
Just the day before, the Scouts had lost a doubleheader in Newark to the Settlers. They lost both games by the same 9-2 score. The losses, combined with Hamilton’s Saturday doubleheader sweep of Cincinnati, created a tie atop the GLSCL South standings. That set up a must-win situation for Xenia against those same Settlers on Sunday.
Win and, no matter how Hamilton would fare in their Sunday game with Cincinnati (they won), Xenia would clinch the division crown by virtue of a head-to-head tiebreaker over Hamilton. (Xenia won four of six meetings against the Hamilton Joes this season.)
With the divisional crown comes a well-needed day off.
The GLSCL postseason playoffs begin today (July 26) with fifth-seeded Licking County taking on the no. 4 Grand Lake Mariners, and no. 6 seed Cincinnati taking on no. 3 Hamilton.
The Licking County-Grand Lake winner will then play top seed Lima in a best-of-3 games series, while the Cincinnati-Hamilton winner will play Xenia.
Xenia’s first playoff game will take place Wednesday against either the Steam or Joes. Thursday’s game will be on the road, and fans can catch all the action on Xenia Scouts broadcaster Andrew Alix’s YouTube broadcast on YouTube.com/xeniascoutsradio.com.
All games are scheduled for 7:05 p.m.