Scouts swept in doubleheader against Copperheads
By Luke Severt, Xenia Scouts beat writer
July 6, 2018
XENIA- “It’s a beautiful day--let’s play two.”
The famous phrase coined by Chicago Cubs hall-of-famer, the late Ernie Banks, applied to the Xenia Scouts on a Thursday night, as they played a doubleheader against the Southern Ohio Copperheads at Grady's Field. Unfortunately, they lost both games, the first by a score of 11-1 and the second, 5-3.
The first three innings made all the difference in game one. Scouts starting pitcher Diego Quinones struggled to find his control on the mound, as he allowed seven walks and hit three batters in 1 2/3 innings of work. He would end up giving up five runs in his difficult outing, and the Scouts were in an early hole.
“I told Diego, ‘You’ll have games like that,’” said Jason Lester, who is filling in as manager while Bubba Cates is taking some time away from the team for personal reasons. “The good news is that he gets to pitch again.”
Due to a lack of available arms, the Scouts were forced to turn to infielder Zach Bacon, who doesn’t usually pitch, to take over on the mound and try to stop the bleeding. To his credit, he did what he needed to do, which was throw strikes. He threw 1 1/3 innings, allowing three runs on four hits without walking anyone, but the Copperheads had an eight-run lead after three.
While the pitching staff was struggling, the offense was doing the same. They were held hitless through 3 1/3 innings of a game that was only seven innings long, due to it being the first of a twin bill.
Copperheads starter Jeff Ciocco pitched for all seven, surrendering only one run on a total of three hits. The lone Scouts run came after second baseman Nick Tuttle led off the fifth with a single, and was moved around the bases until he was eventually able to score on an RBI groundout from shortstop Noah Orlando.
Reliever Sam Dralle was tasked with pitching the last four innings of a game that was already nearly out of reach. He conceded three runs and five hits, enough to put the nail in the coffin for the Scouts in the first game.
After a 10-run loss, the Scouts were forced to try to respond in game two, and respond they did.
It was a game with little offense, and when one team scored, the other team seemed to always do the same. After the Southern Ohio leadoff hitter scored in the first inning, Xenia’s did as well, as center fielder Cam Murray singled and stole two bases before catcher Connor Regan drove him in with a single. The Copperheads scored again in the top of the third, but the Scouts answered with a run of their own in the bottom of the same inning.
The teams were locked in a 2-2 stalemate until the bottom of the sixth, when Scouts third baseman Dugan Darnell led off with a single, stole second, and advanced to third on a Bacon sacrifice bunt. With Orlando up, Darnell took off from third as the Southern Ohio pitcher delivered, and he was able to score easily after Orlando laid down a beautiful squeeze bunt to take the lead.
“You don’t see that a lot anymore in baseball,” said Lester. “It’s one of the best plays out there.”
Unfortunately, the Scouts were not able to get the three outs that they needed in the top of the seventh, as Bills surrendered three runs on four hits and the Copperheads took a two-run lead. Dralle came in to pitch for the second time that day, and he was able to slam the door, but the damage was done.
The heart of the Xenia order was up in the do-or-die bottom of the seventh, but they were unable to produce anything, as they went down 1-2-3 and the Scouts lost for the 11th time in their last 13 games. Although they were not victorious, Lester was happy with the team’s ability to fight back after a tough loss a few hours earlier. “They did everything we could ask for,” said Lester.
Despite being handed the loss, Bills pitched well, allowing five runs on eight hits and only walking two. The most notable statistic of his night is the fact that he was able to last 6 1/3 innings on the mound, as the Scouts starting rotation has struggled to pitch deep into ballgames as of late.
One of Bills’ strengths on the mound is his ability to throw strikes, and Lester believes this has an impact on the entire team. “Strikes are a pitcher’s best friend,” he said.
The Scouts will travel to Athens, Ohio on Friday to play the Copperheads once again, hoping to avoid losing to them for the third time in two days.
After the recent struggles, Lester wants his team to make sure they don’t become accepting of losses, but most of all he wants his guys to have fun. “After all, it’s baseball.”