XENIA — So many times in baseball games of any level, just one bad inning is all it takes to change a win into a loss.
Xenia’s bad inning came in the fifth of Wednesday’s March 29 home contest with undefeated Greenon. The visiting Knights tied the contest with four runs in that tumultuous fifth, then scored two in the eighth to rally past the host Buccaneers for a 7-5 win.
“We had three errors in that (fourth) inning. Unfortunately, we’ve struggled with our defense in our scrimmage games, and we’ve worked hard to correct our mistakes. We only had one error last night (in Tuesday’s 9-0 win over Urbana), so you take away those three errors and this could’ve been a different outcome,” Xenia coach Barry Claus said.
But instead, with the Bucs out in front 5-1, here’s what happened:
First, Chris Winter led off for the Knights and hit a bad-hop grounder to short for a fourth-inning single. Dominic Kuzujankis then had his hit up the middle ricochet off Xenia pitcher Dylan Hall’s glove then roll slowly to T.J. Oliver for an infield hit, moving Winter to second. Cooper Chafin then reached on an error to right field, which scored both Winter and Kuzujankis. Chafin scored on Adam Campbell’s single to right field, then Campbell scored on Nick Hunley’s sacrifice fly to left.
Suddenly, the two undefeated teams were all even at 5-5.
With the game still knotted up after seven innings of regulation play, Greenon’s bottom two batters in its lineup scored what turned out to be the deciding runs in the eighth.
Luke Downing singled, advanced on a walk, moved to third on a balk call, then scored on Campbell’s single to center. Chris Baird, who had reached on a walk and also advanced on the balk call, scored behind Downing on Campbell’s two-RBI hit.
Greenon has a combined dozen seniors and juniors on its roster. Knights coach Dan Young said his team was in a similar come-from-behind situation on Saturday in a 5-3 win over Riverside.
“Saturday, we were down 3-1 in the same situation. About the fifth or sixth inning, and we scored four to win that game,” Young said. “We’re not the kind of team that, when we get behind, we’re just gonna roll over and say ‘Ah, the game’s over.’ We’re a senior dominant team with a couple clutch younger guys. We can hit all the way up and down the lineup, and we just believe in each other.”
Winter, Campbell and Riley Williams each went 2-for-4 at the plate for Greenon (4-0). Eight of the 10 players on Greenon’s injury depleted roster reached base. Williams also ranged for several big grabs for outs in centerfield.
Bucs freshman second baseman Kyle Lane might be a bit sore on Thursday, but he’ll smile when you ask him about his first varsity hit. Lane beat out a bunt down the first-base line for the hit and eventually scored a Xenia first-inning run, but then he was hit by a pitch on two of his next three trips to the plate.
Oliver singled, doubled, drove in three Xenia runs and scored a run, Ryan Day went 2-for-4 with a score, Robert DeLong reached on a Knights error and eventually scored, Jared Robinson walked and scored, and lead-off hitter Evan Adkins was hitting laser shots for most of the game … right at the Greenon defenders.
“Evan may have had just the one hit (a single in the sixth), but he’s hitting the ball solidly for us. It’s early on. We’ll be just fine,” Claus said.
Greenon will host a doubleheader with Dayton Christian with games at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Saturday,
April 1; while Xenia (1-1) has a single 11 a.m. contest at Springfield Northeastern that same day.
You can reach John Bombatch at 937-372-4444, Ext. 2123.