Scouts increase win streak to five
Scouts increase win streak to five
By Luke Severt, Xenia Scouts beat writer
June 23, 2018
ATHENS- The Xenia Scouts made the southwestern trek to Athens, Ohio on Friday afternoon, hoping to play a doubleheader comprised of two seven-inning games. Mother Nature had other ideas, however, as a two-hour rain delay in the midst of game one prohibited the second game from occuring.
The weather may have disrupted the schedule, but it would end up helping the Scouts increase their winning streak to five games, as they defeated the Southern Ohio Copperheads by a final score of 9-7 at Bob Wren Stadium in Athens.
Before the rain delay, the Scouts offense was tasked with facing Copperheads starting pitcher Michael Darrell-Hicks, the reigning Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League pitcher of the week, who had yet to give up a run while striking 14 batters out in 10 innings on the mound.
Darrell-Hicks’ brilliance continued in the early innings on Friday, as he threw three innings without allowing a hit while recording a whopping six strikeouts. But as soon as he recorded the final out of the third inning, the tarps were brought onto the field, and the delay began.
When play resumed, Scouts manager Bubba Cates consulted with his starter, Diego Quinones, and they decided that he would continue to pitch. Quinones had struggled earlier in the game, giving up three runs on four walks and two hits in his first two innings of work.
“I just need to focus,” said Quinones about his mindset when he is struggling. “Sometimes it’s my mechanics. I just need to slow down a little bit, but stay aggressive, and pitch for command. That’s how I control myself.”
The rain delay seemed to help Quinones, however, as he pitched a perfect inning in the bottom of the third following the break. He would pitch the next two innings as well, giving up two hits and two walks but no runs.
“It certainly looked like it helped us,” said Cates about the weather. “We were a bit sluggish before the rain delay, and Diego didn’t pitch very well before it. I think he gave us a little energy when he came back out, because he threw strikes and got them out real quick in the bottom of the third, and then we tacked on that first run there in the fourth.”
The two hours of downtime convinced the Copperheads coaching staff that Darrell-Hicks should not warm back up and return to the game, and they decided to turn to their bullpen in an effort to retain the three-run lead they held at the time.
The momentum shift that began with Quinones’ quality pitching became even more extreme as the Scouts offense capitalized with Darrell-Hicks out of the game. They were able to load the bases and score their first run of the night, when second baseman Zach Bacon drew a walk to allow designated hitter Connor Regan to score.
After Quinones’ work was done in his final inning, the fifth, the Scouts again boasted their ability to formulate rallies when losing and turn games around. They did not hit very many balls hard, but they were able to use walks and well-placed hits to achieve the comeback. They had already scored four runs in the inning to lead 5-3 when third baseman Ben Bills approached the plate for the second time of the inning with bases loaded and two outs. Bills proceeded to drive a ball over the center fielder’s head, clearing the bases and giving the Scouts an 8-3 lead.
“I think sometimes in innings like that, you’ll see those things play, where maybe there is only one hard hit ball, and it is a big one,” said Cates. “A lot of times those innings are created by walks, or some balls that aren’t hit real hard but fall in front of the outfielders. You get a couple guys on, and then somebody pops one and that really makes a difference. That inning played that way I think, and we did a good job overall that inning.”
Right hander Sam Dralle took over on the mound for Quinones, and put the exclamation point on the fantastic Xenia sixth inning, needing only five pitches to retire the side as he induced two first-pitch ground balls and struck out the final batter on only three pitches.
The Scouts increased their lead after scoring one in the top of the seventh, and it would prove to be a very important insurance run. Dralle, who has assumed the closer role on the Xenia pitching staff, was unable to put away the Copperheads with ease, as they rallied for four runs on three hits to make it a 9-7 game. However, Dralle decided he had seen enough, and forced a ground out to Bacon to end the game. Dralle would record his third save of the season, and Quinones earned the win.
It was the fifth straight win for the Scouts, as their record improves to 6-4 and they continue to climb up the GLSCL Southern Division standings, now in fourth place still very early on in the 2018 season.
“We have been playing a lot of guys, and it is interesting that the combination of guys that we have just seems to be right for the day. Hopefully it’ll continue to be like that,” said Cates.
They will make the road trip to Adrian, Michigan on Saturday, to play a doubleheader against the Irish Hills Leprechauns, a team that is in the Northern Division of the GLSCL and has started the season with four wins and nine losses. The Scouts will look to increase their winning streak to six, and even seven games on Saturday.