A steal of home
By Luke Severt, Xenia Scouts beat writer
June 20, 2018
XENIA- A steal of home. A nine-run comeback. A walk-off hit-by-pitch. A Xenia Scouts win.
These are all things that occured at Grady's Field on Tuesday night, as the Scouts defeated the Licking County Settlers by a score of 13-12 in a 10-inning affair.
Right fielder Carson Wright was at the plate with the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the 10th inning, tasked with being able to drive in third baseman Dugan Darnell from third and secure a Scouts victory in extra innings. However, it ended up being mostly out of Wright's control, as Settlers pitcher Alec Berry hit Wright in the ankle with a 1-1 pitch, allowing Darnell to trot in from third, while Wright hobbled to first and the Scouts poured out of the dugout and onto the field to celebrate.
"That was an interesting one," said Darnell. "I didn't really know what to do with myself."
Before the walk-off hit-by-pitch, there just so happened to be an even more rare occurrence, something that those who have been around baseball their entire life may have never seen in person-a straight steal of home. With the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the eighth, Berry decided to pitch out of the windup, a much slower method that allowed Nick Tuttle to break from third towards home and slide in just as the ball crossed the plate. The Scouts dugout erupted in excitement and disbelief as the umpire extended his arms horizontally to signal that Tuttle had reached the plate before being tagged and was able to score safely.
"It was a conversation we had," said Scouts manager Bubba Cates. "He looked at me and said 'I think I can make it.' He put that thought in my head, because I was paying attention to some other things and he said that the pitcher was in his windup. I was trying to help him get a big initial lead, so he didn't have to run so far when he got started. It was exciting, you don't see that very much."
When any given team holds a nine-run lead at some point in a baseball game, it is rare to later see such a game require extra innings. The Scouts were able to jump out to an 11-2 lead after an eight-run second inning in which every member of the Scouts lineup was able to reach base.
Scouts starting pitcher Caleb Eder got off to a nice start, but began to run into some trouble before being replaced after five complete innings. He gave up nine runs, only five of which were earned, seven hits, one walk, and hit two batters.
It is safe to assume that Eder would have had a much smoother outing if it weren't for Xenia's defensive woes. They had seven errors total, and four of those Settlers who reached on errors would come around to score. It was an unusual night for the Scouts, who have shown impressive defensive prowess in the first quarter of this young season.
"We didn't play very well tonight," said Cates. "We're working with a lot of different variables this summer. One of these variables is a limited pitching staff. All of our guys are on limits that say if they throw this amount of pitches they have to sit out for this number of days. When we make errors, it adds pitches to their total, and can knock them out for another day. I'm trying to relay to them that we need to get locked in a little bit defensively, and we need to do some better things, so we don't run into problems in the future."
Following Eder's performance, Andrew Verbrugge relieved him of his duties and pitched two innings, allowing one earned run, walking two, and giving up a base hit. Sam Dralle came into pitch to start the eighth inning, looking to secure his third save of the year, and he was unable to do so, allowing two runs on two walks and a hit. However, he was credited with a win after the walk-off in the bottom of the 10th, as he faced the minimum in the top of the inning.
"We only had three guys in our dugout that were available to pitch today," said Cates. "So we were down to Sam, and Sam. That's it. So obviously we need for something to happen quickly, because we can't have him pitch 13 innings. And now, we've used him today, and maybe we do get a win, but maybe we won't have him the rest of the week, and that's not good for us. We need to have him today, and we need to have him be able to go two or three days from now. I'd love to not have to worry about that, but I'll be honest, that's about the only thing that's on my mind when we play."
On a more positive note for the Scouts, the offense continued to thrive, as they tallied 13 runs on 11 hits, while drawing the same number of walks and two hit-by-pitches. Darnell led the charge for the Scouts, going 2-3 with three walks and three runs batted in. Orlando continued to impress, as he notched two singles and a double while walking once and driving in two runs. Wright had a hit, was hit twice, walked and recorded two RBI.
"We're really gelling as a team now," said Darnell. "We're starting to figure each other out and working together as a team. Everyone is supporting each other, nobody's bringing us down, everyone picks each other up. We have a great coaching staff, they definitely know what they're doing and they say the right thing at the right times. It's been fun, we're having fun.
While it may not have been the most pleasing of victories, it does make Xenia's win streak four games, and their record has shifted from 0-3 to 5-4, their first time above the .500 mark this season.
"It is four games now, huh?" Cates questioned after the game. "I guess we lost our first three, and we've won five out of six now. That's more important to me than four in a row, I think. Four in a row is something special though, it's hard to do that. It's hard to do that."
The Scouts will travel to Newark, Ohio for a rematch against the Settlers on Wednesday night as they hope to extend their winning streak to five.