After the Scouts’ first game of the season, manager Bubba Cates said he couldn’t wait to see his players grow closer and truly become a team two weeks down the road
By Luke Severt, Xenia Scouts beat writer
June 18, 2018
XENIA- After the Scouts' first game of the season, manager Bubba Cates said he couldn't wait to see his players grow closer and truly become a team two weeks down the road.
Nine days later, they defeated the Hamilton Joes by a score of 7-4 on Sunday afternoon, to grow their recent win streak to three. The win was also the exclamation point to the week in which they finished 4-2, and were able to bring their season record up to an even 4-4.
"I think you could ask the guys, and they'd tell you the same thing that I'm fixing to tell you," said Cates. "They have really grown together, and played a lot better together. I've just seen some special things out of our guys. Like last night, Zach Bacon was struggling a little bit and he got a base hit, and our whole dugout was up clapping and yelling for him. The only time you get responses like that is when people know you're a pretty good guy, and they care about you. With us being together only ten days, and he has a fan club already, that's special, and I think that's going on in our whole group."
Starting pitcher Ben Bills turned in the best outing by any Scouts pitcher so far this season, pitching 7 innings and giving up two earned runs, 13 hits, and one walk on only 91 pitches.
"One thing I was sure of about Ben was that he would throw strikes," said Cates. "I knew he would keep his pitch count down, which would allow him to go deeper in the game. Obviously, with a shortage of pitchers, we need for guys to go as long as they can, and he was able to go into the eighth inning today, so that was huge for us."
The start was not entirely smooth sailing for Bills, as he was tasked with trying to get out of a jam multiple times in the contest, and for the most part, he did a stellar job of doing so. He was able to strand seven Joes runners on the basepaths, six who were in scoring position, and never allowed Hamilton to produce any real rallies.
"Pitch to contact," said Bills about his strategy in crucial situations. "Pitch to contact, always. You don't want to get too ahead of yourself, and you don't want to try to throw harder than you can, so just pitch to contact."
Although it was a quality start from Bills, the Scouts offense still had to work hard for the win. Bills was able to break the six-game streak of Scouts pitching giving up a run in the first inning, and the Scouts offense answered that with a run in the bottom of the opening frame, thanks to singles by their first three batters, including an RBI base hit for center fielder Graham Welch.
For the third game in a row, the Scouts had to dig out of a hole, as they were trailing at one point before managing to fight back and become victorious in each of these games.
The Joes were able to jump out to a 3-1 lead in the third inning thanks to a home run from designated hitter Griffin Doersching, but Bills was able to bounce back and find his groove very quickly.
"Props to him," said Bills. "It was a pretty good pitch, I hit my spot pretty well. He just put some barrell on it, you know he's a good hitter. You just can't think about it, you just have to keep throwing to the next guy. So good for him."
Hamilton managed to hold on to that lead until the bottom of the sixth, when the Scouts scored three runs to take the lead. They did the same the following inning, increasing their lead to four runs and making any sort of a comeback by the Joes a daunting task.
Landon Myers and Sam Dralle came out of the bullpen on Sunday, and eliminated all hope for the Joes, as they each pitched an inning and only gave up a combined two hits and one walk.
As aforementioned, the win propels Xenia to a 4-4 record, as they finish the week with three straight wins. They will have an off day on Monday before opening the second full week of the season with a home-away two game set against the Licking County Settlers, a team that has started the season 2-5.