On the eve of Independence Day, premature celebratory fireworks illuminated the night sky above Grady’s Field, where two teams were playing an American icon, its pastime, the beautiful, patriotic, classic game of baseball
By Luke Severt, Xenia Scouts beat writer
July 3, 2018
XENIA- On the eve of Independence Day, premature celebratory fireworks illuminated the night sky above Grady's Field, where two teams were playing an American icon, its pastime, the beautiful, patriotic, classic game of baseball.
The excitement in the air did not mirror the style of play on the field, as the Xenia Scouts and the Cincinnati Steam were locked into a pitcher's duel for a majority of the night. Eventually, the Steam offense drew inspiration from the booming lights in the sky and caught fire, rallying to a 8-1 lead on Tuesday night.
With manager Bubba Cates unable to be there, team chaplain Jason Lester stepped into his role for the night. Lester, although not the typical Xenia manager, has more than enough experience to fill in for Cates.
"I've been on staff for 26 years, and 17 of those were with baseball," he said.
Caleb Eder got the start on the mound for the Scouts, and continued his recent streak of stellar pitching. In six innings of work, he only gave up three hits and two earned runs while striking out six. However, one of these hits was a big one, as he gave up a solo home run to Steam designated hitter Jake Kates on the first pitch of the second inning. From there, he retired nine batters in a row.
"I feel very happy with how I pitched" Eder said. I made one mistake pitch, and it was the only ball that they really hit hard off me, but other than that I was very pleased with how I pitched. Everything was working for me and I was happy to keep the team in the game."
While Eder was able to keep the Scouts within striking distance, their bullpen was not. Landen Myers and Owen Pyatt, a right-hander that the Scouts just added to their roster, surrendered a combined five runs on four hits.
Although the bullpen's performance was not ideal, it would not have made much of a difference, because the Scouts offense was not able to produce much of anything throughout the game. Lester attributes this to a rather odd statistic, the fact that eight out of the nine guys to lead off an inning did not reach base in that situation. "It's hard to move guys around, when when we had guys on base, it was with two outs," said Lester. The Xenia offense was muster up eight hits on the night, but there were only two innings where they had multiple hits, and they weren't able to score in either of these innings.
Eder ended up being the only Scout to record an extra base hit on the night, but he would end up being called out immediately after because of an illegal substitution. According to Lester, he checked with the umpires to make sure that the costly move was allowed, and they told him yes, but they eventually determined that it was not and Eder had to vacate second base after hitting a double in the bottom of the 9th. Zach Bacon grounded out on the very next pitch and the game was over.
Despite being called out, Eder was satisfied with the double, and is embracing his role as a two-way player for his team, which is the way he has been playing the game his entire life. "Being able to do both here is a blessing to me," he said.
The Scouts will be travelling to Cincinnati and look to seek revenge against the Steam on the holiday. There will likely be more fireworks in the sky, and the Xenia offense will look to be able to mirror that on the field.
"It's fun to watch in the dugout with the game," said Eder about the fireworks. "It's not often that you can watch a ballgame and a fireworks show at the same time."