XENIA — In a Xenia High School debut he won’t soon forget, Cedarville transfer Joey Lewis stole third base and raced home to score the winning run, April 21 in a 4-3 Buccaneers win in eight innings over visiting Graham.
Bucs coach Barry Claus already had three players who had stolen nine bases or more this season. Lewis gives the team yet another burner on the base paths.
With Lewis on second and Wade Ferrance on first and one out in a 3-3 tie in the bottom of the eighth inning, Claus sent the two speedy runners in a double-steal attempt. And when the Graham catcher’s throw missed the shortstop, Lewis was able to race home before a throw home was even made to score the winning run.
“He had two hits and a steal, and he goes and scores the game-winning run in his first varsity start for the Bucs. We’ve been excited to have him. I think he’s been excited to play,” Claus said.
Blayne Dudley leads the team with 19 steals thus far. Aydan Evans is next with 12 swipes and Ferrance already has nine.
Lewis brings another base stealing threat to an already fast team, but the former Cedarville Indian was just happy to be out on the ball diamond again.
“I hadn’t been able to play for a while, so I was just excited to get in the game,” Lewis said. He was making his first varsity start for the Buccaneers after having to sit out the first half of the season for transferring to XHS from Cedarville High.
Lewis said he’s still making the adjustment from Division IV baseball to Division I.
“The competition is a lot tougher. I feel I’m still learning. Every single game, I just see what other people do and try to see what I can do to get myself better at my position,” he said. “If I make an error, I learn how to fix it. I just do the best that I can.”
Lewis is one of four sophomores, and a freshman, in Xenia’s starting lineup right now.
The win snapped a two-game mini losing streak for Xenia (12-4, 4-3 in the Greater Western Ohio Conference’s American South division), a shutout road loss at Tecumseh and an 8-5 home loss on April 20 to Piqua. The Bucs return to divisional play at 5 p.m. Tuesday April 24 in West Carrollton before hosting the Pirates on April 25 at the same time.
Graham fell to 5-6 overall with the extra-inning loss. Falcons coach Jay Lewis said his young team was battling in extra innings for the third time in Graham’s last four games. They are now 2-1 in extra-inning contests.
“We played a nine-inning game two nights ago, and we played 11 innings (in a 3-2 win over Northwestern) Friday night, so we’ve been playing in pretty tight games,” Lewis said. “I thought this game with Xenia was a very good game. Both pitchers did pretty well. It just came down to that last big play.”
Coach Lewis credited starting pitcher Eli Palmer with a solid outing. Palmer went six innings with eight strikeouts. Graham plays at Kenton Ridge at 5 p.m. Tuesday, April 24.
Contact John Bombatch at 937-372-4444, Ext. 2123.