By John Bombatch
XENIA — Yeah, it might’ve rained for most of the contest, but that didn’t stop the Middletown Christian or Xenia Christian varsity teams from playing a wild baseball game, Thursday, on Grady’s Field at the Athletes In Action sports complex.
With the rain falling in the bottom of the sixth inning, Xenia Christian’s David Kensinger scored Will Ewing on a sacrifice fly to right center to give the Ambassadors a soggy 5-4 win in Metro Buckeye League action.
“It’s been back-and-forth for us all year,” Xenia Christian coach Scott Johnson said. “That right there was probably a game that we really needed. It puts us at 2-2 in the conference, and now we’ve got 11 games to play in the next 14 days. … The boys just all came together, I was able to get all the pitching that I needed, and it worked out really good today.”
Ambassadors starting pitcher Ashton Burke recorded nine strikeouts in six innings of work, giving up three earned runs in the sixth.His counterpart, Middletown Christian’s Drew Luckhaupt, fanned eight Xenia Christian batters while scattering seven hits in all.
Middletown Christian (5-7, 1-5 MBC) got on the scoreboard first when John Leisinger’s single to right took a very high hop over the Xenia Christian rightfielder’s head and rolled to the wall. The basepaths were still relatively dry in the first inning, so Leisinger scooted around for an inside-the-park home run, giving the Eagles a 1-0 lead.
Xenia Christian’s John McCaskey scored Tyler Johnson with a single in the bottom of the second to even things up at 1-all. The rain started in the fourth inning, but that didn’t stop the Ambassadors from scoring. McCaskey singled to left to bring h0me Eric Uszynski.
XCS (3-4, 2-2 MBC) tagged on two more runs during a heavy downpour in the fifth inning. The Grady’s Field artificial turf sops up rain like a giant sponge, and so play continued.
First, Kensinger scored on Johnson’s infield single to third. Then, Austin Frueh came around to score from third on a passed ball to put the Ambassadors out in front 4-1 after five innings of play.
With the rain starting to let up, Middletown Christian sent eight batters to the plate in the top of the sixth. The Eagles took advantage of two Ambassador errors, got hits by Luckhaupt, Griffin Agee and Jared French, and scored three runs to even things up at four apiece.
That set up Kensinger’s heroics in the bottom of the sixth.
Johnson then traded positions with Burke, going from catching to pitching, for the seventh inning and closed out the win for Xenia Christian.
Johnson singled, doubled and drove in one Ambassadors run. McCaskey singled twice and knocked in two runs.
Middletown Christian’s Leisinger scored twice for the Eagles and nearly took XCS third baseman Uszynski’s head off with a rocket shot to the Ambassadors freshman. Probably in self defense more than anything else, Uszynski made the catch.
“That was a fun game. I’ll tell ya what, my left fielder (Logan Jones) and centerfielder (Cody Burns) played soooo well tonight. Getting to balls in the gap, another that didn’t get to the gap, they got after and prevented a triple. That’s stuff that we’ve been talking about doing all year, so I was really happy to see that,” Middletown Christian coach Ray Cox said. “Drew Luckhaupt pitched a nice game and he had a solid defense behind him, but Xenia’s pitcher had a great game, too. That’s baseball. Sometimes the ball bounces your way, sometimes it doesn’t.”
Xenia Christian heads down to Hillsboro to take on White Oak at 5 p.m. today. Middletown Christian will be back in action Saturday when they play an afternoon doubleheader at Hamilton New Miami.
John Bombatch can be reached at 937-372-4444, Ext. 2123.