Scouts defeated by Copperheads, 8-3
Scouts defeated by Copperheads, 8-3.
By Luke Severt, Xenia Scouts beat writer
July 7, 2018
ATHENS- One of the biggest obstacles a baseball team faces over the summer is not the opponent or themselves, but rather the days. The “dog days of summer,” that is. The dreaded time period in the middle of the season when some players become injured, and some are simply worn out. The sun is typically smoldering, and games can start to feel monotonous.
It appears that the Xenia Scouts have been hit with a case of the “dog days,” as they lost 8-3 to the Southern Ohio Copperheads on Friday night at Bob Wren Stadium on the Ohio University campus in Athens.
It was their sixth loss in a row, and their 12th in their last 14 games. They were sitting pretty with a 6-4 record, good enough to be within striking distance of a division title, before this 14-game stretch, which has brought their record down to 8-16.
Scouts starting pitcher on Friday was Landon Myers, who has seen the toll that the recent struggles have been taking on the morale of his team. “The past couple of days have been,” said Myers when asked if the energy has been low in the dugout recently. “Just being in a slump, it takes a toll on everyone.”
A large part of their struggles has been their short-handed pitching staff. They began this season with fewer pitchers than they would have liked, and have seen that number dwindle as players have faced injuries and needed rest throughout the grueling season, which features six games in a week.
“We showed up and we had two pitchers that were available, and they gave us all they could,” said acting manager Jason Lester, who is filling in for Bubba Cates as he takes some time away from the team for personal reasons.
Myers knows that a lot of his teammates are battling different obstacles that are deterring them from pitching. His goal on Friday was to go deep into the game in an effort to save some pitchers, and it was a “performance that he was happy with.”
Although Myers was able to provide some longevity, he was not able to quiet the powerful offense of the first-place Copperheads. He lasted six innings, allowing six hits on 13 hits. To his credit, Myers was able to limit the scoring of Southern Ohio by inducing three double plays throughout the night, and all of their scoring came in only two different innings.
Myers was relieved by Andrew Verbrugge, who pitched two innings of one-hit ball, but allowed two runs. Only one run he gave up was earned, however, after an error by second baseman Nick Tuttle led to a run. “I was really proud of Andrew for coming in and giving us two innings,” said Lester.
As for the offense, they faced the daunting task of facing Michael Darrell-Hicks, who is fourth in the Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League in ERA. The Scouts knew what to expect, as they had faced him earlier this season, and were no-hit through three innings against him.
Darrell-Hicks pitched well enough to earn the win, mostly due to the run support he received from his offense, but he was not as dominant as he has been this season. The Scouts, already trailing 6-0, broke open in the fourth, with three runs on two hits and two hit batsmen, good enough to cut the lead in half.
The rest of the night was a quiet one for the Xenia offense, as they only recorded three hits in the final five innings. Darrell-Hicks would pitch through the sixth, as he surrendered three runs on four hits, hit two batters and walked one while striking out six.
“It’s just the grind of the season,” Lester reasoned for the Scouts’ offensive struggles as of late. “Our bats will come back around.”
While his team had to deal with many of the symptoms of the “dog days,” Lester was concerned that the team may fall into the complacency trap, and start accepting losses. The Scouts proved him wrong however, as Lester said, “I think we hustled, we got after it. They just scored more runs than we did.”
The Copperheads are one of, if not the best team in the GLSCL, and Lester knew of their talents going in, but it didn’t make the loss any easier for him. “I don’t like losing,” he said.
The Scouts will travel to Celina, Ohio on Saturday to play the first of a two-game series against the Grand Lake Mariners, a team that is in the middle of the pack in the GLSCL Northern Division. “We’ll give ‘em a battle,” said Lester.
As for the “dog days,” Myers thinks the cure is quite simple. “The love of the game will triumph.”