By John Bombatch
XENIA — An air of confidence can go a long way towards one’s success. And right now, the Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League’s South Division leading Xenia Scouts are feeling it.
“When you start playing against people who are on different (college) teams, the big schools and things like that, I think it goes through a player’s mind whether he matches up. They wonder if they’re able to compete with these guys,” Scouts manager Bubba Cates explained. “But baseball’s a little bit different than maybe football or basketball. You don’t have to be the biggest or strongest guy to play this game.
“Our guys are finding out that the same pitch that gets guys out in the junior colleges gets them out in the big schools, too.”
On Saturday, Xenia defeated the Hamilton Joes by a 3-1 count to win its sixth consecutive game. During the winning streak, the Scouts have outscored their opponents 34 runs to 10.
It’s not just one player carrying everybody else, or one aspect of the team’s arsenal that’s giving opponents fits. Xenia has one of the league’s top fielding defenses (fifth out of 12 teams with a .953 fielding percentage), and they’re second in the league in total put-outs with 692.
Offensively, the Scouts are finding ways to get the job done, too.
Lipscomb University’s Chandler Adkins is second in the GLSCL in triples (3), seventh in sacrifice flies (2) and 10th in runs batted in (20). Jeremy Barth, of Biola University out in the Los Angeles area, leads the league in doubles (11) and is tied for seventh in hits with 33. Wright State product Adrian Marquez is currently tied for ninth in home runs with three, and Hillsdale College speedster Ryan O’Hearn leads the league in walks (24), is fourth in runs scored with 23 and is tied for ninth in stolen bases with nine.
Add to that the fact that Lipscomb’s John Sharpe is back in the lineup after having to sit out a handful of games due to a concussion, and you’ve got a solid offense on any day. Sharpe led the team in hitting before the injury.
Walter Rook IV, of Northeast Mississippi Community College, had been primarily used as a reliever in the first half of the season, but got the start in Saturday’s game. He scattered seven Hamilton hits while striking out three in recording a complete-game win. University of Redlands (Calif.) pitcher Noah Jones and University of St. Thomas (Minn.) pitcher Caleb Fernholz have also tossed complete games for the Scouts thus far.
Jones, Rook and Wright State’s “hip hip” Jorge Lozano have each tossed 28 innings or more for the Scouts. There’s only 17 hurlers in the entire league who have done that, at this point, and we’re more than 20 games into the season.
Southeast Missouri State reliever Matt Wade is now sixth in the league with three saves for Xenia.
It’s a mixed bag of baseball talent from all levels of the sports, but they’re learning that they can play with anybody … and win.
In a soggy, rain-soaked affair on Sunday, Hamilton defeated Xenia by an 8-4 score at Grady’s Field. That snapped the Scouts’ streak, but Xenia had won 13 of its last 16 games, dating back to June 16.
The Scouts began a four-game road swing in Newark on the Fourth of July, with a game against the Licking County Settlers. Xenia has a pair of road contests up north against the GLSCL North leading Lima Locos on July 5-6, then they head southeast to Athens face the Southern Ohio Copperheads for a Saturday July 10 game.
Xenia’s next home series begins Sunday July 11 when they’ll host the Copperheads for a 4:05 p.m. game. They’ll then play the Galion Graders July 12-13, and then the Richmond Jazz on July 14 for a trio of 7:05 p.m. contests at Grady’s Field on the AIA Sports Complex.
John Bombatch can be reached at 937-372-4444, Ext. 2123.