XENIA — The effort is there. The performance is there.
Despite the team seemingly doing all the right things on the ball diamond, the Xenia Scouts (14-12) find themselves 0-for-July and mired in a six-game losing streak. Before this recent span of losses, the Scouts were in first place in the Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League and hadn’t lost more than two games in a row all season.
Now they’re in fifth in the 11-team league and 3 1/2 games behind the Lima Locos (15-6), who ran over the Scouts twice over the weekend. Scouts manager Bubba Cates says it’s just a part of playing baseball.
“It’s been a tough week for us, but I’ve enjoyed seeing this losing streak from another perspective,” Cates said. “I’ve been around some teams before that have had a tough week, and you can see it all over them. From the first pitch to the last pitch, you know that whatever you’re going through it’s not going to end today, because we’re just not ready for it to end today.
“But these guys are ready. They’re showing up with the right attitude and fightin’ hard from the very first pitch. I’m not sure that you can tell a lot of difference in this team’s style of play and what they do, based on what the last few days have been like for us. And that’s encouraging. Make no mistake. We’re ready for this to end, but the losses are not because we haven’t given the effort.”
At least three of the losses were the result of opponent’s walk-off scores in the bottom of the ninth inning. The most recent loss — Lima’s 6-1 win Sunday on Xenia’s Grady’s Field — was a 1-all dogfight into the sixth inning until Locos clean-up hitter Brett Murray faced an 0-2 count and launched a three-run home run.
“Will (Kruse) threw really well today, but he just had one pitch in a bad location and that was that. His pitch count was down at the time. If he makes that pitch, he might’ve stayed in the game a little longer,” Cates added. Kruse had given up four hits in the first five innings before Murray tagged him with the home run.
Up to that point, Lincoln Reed was having a solid 2-for-3 day at the plate, Kyle Carnahan had reached base twice on consecutive walks, and Zach Wyatt got on base the hard way — he was plunked with a pitch in two consecutive at-bats — and the Scouts were right in contention for the win.
After the Loco’s 4-run sixth inning, Carnahan’s two-out double was Xenia’s only hit the rest of the way.
Lima coach Chad Ehrnsberger said a series of rained out games left the Locos a bit out of sync, but said the team is on a hot streak right now.
“It’s a better rhythm for everybody when you can play every day,” he said. “And Brett’s been doing that all season long for us. He’s a great hitter and it’s just a continuation from the Spring when he was at Creighton University. (Kruse) made two quality pitches on him but, fortunately for us, he left one pitch where Brett could hit it out of the park.
“… Xenia’s just not getting breaks right now. Saturday night’s game (in Lima) could’ve gone either way. For five innings today, they played better than us. It just so happened that we played the last four innings better than they did, and we won. They’re a real good team, a solid team. If not for Murray’s homer, we could be talking about a Xenia win. It’s just baseball, you’re going to have your losing streaks. You just battle through them, and I know that the Scouts will do that.
“Now that we’re done playing them, I wish them well!”
Xenia had the day off on Monday. They return to Athlete In Action’s Grady’s Field for 7:05 p.m. home games today and Wednesday against the defending GLSCL champion Licking County Settlers (11-11).
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