XENIA — Battling injuries and juggling a tired and short-staffed pitching rotation, Xenia Scouts manager Bubba Cates went with a position player to pitch the final innings of Saturday’s Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League baseball game, and the visiting Licking County Settlers (5-14) made the Scouts pay.
With the help of a gutty, three-inning relief pitching effort from University of Dallas right fielder Luke Boylson, the host Xenia Scouts (8-11) were able to rally to take a 5-4 lead into the ninth inning. But back-to-back homers from the Settlers no. 3 and 4 hitters in the lineup, Wabash Valley’s Sam Wilson and Cuyahoga Community College’s Garett Robberts, enabled the Settlers to rally for a 6-5 win.
“We got some pitchers who are hurtin’ right now. But it’s not just us. It affects other teams in this league as well. When you get to the end of the week and you’re short of people — We had a double header yesterday where we played them — it’s tough. Our last guy we had left (after Friday’s doubleheader in Newark), he was our starter today. And when he gets done, we’ve gotta go with a position player,” Cates explained.
Usually a middle reliever, Ohio Northern’s Thomas Fleser was thrown into starting duty on Saturday. The 6-foot-5, 210-pound right-handed Polar Bear scattered seven Settler hits over the first six innings. One of those hits was a solo bomb over the left-field fence, Robberts’ first of the game.
Licking County pulled ahead 4-0 after two innings of play, then Fleser and the Scouts defense kept the Settlers from scoring for the next four innings. Boylson came on in the seventh inning and retired seven of the first 10 Licking County batters he faced.
Then Wilson and Robberts tagged him with their home runs to turn the game back in the Settlers’ favor.
Settlers manager Mike Sandman had only been the team’s skipper since last Friday. So, he was impressed with the team’s resiliency.
“I’m so proud of these guys. It’s been a stressful couple weeks for these guys,” Sandman said. “To come down here shorthanded — it feels like we’re missing about half our roster today — so for them to come down here, with how hot it is and with changing managers this week, they were able to just find a way to get this win today. I’m really proud of them.”
Xenia and Licking County split Saturday’s doubleheader in Newark, the Scouts winning the second game by a 6-5 score. Seven of Xenia’s last eight games have been decided by a one-run difference. Xenia is 2-5 in those games.
SCOUTS THIS WEEK: Monday, July 2 — Day off. Tuesday, July 3, 7:05 p.m. — Home: Scouts vs. Cincinnati Steam; Wednesday, July 4, 7:05 p.m. — Away: Xenia Scouts at Cincinnati Steam; Thursday, July 5, 7:05 p.m. — Home: Scouts vs. Southern Ohio Copperheads; Friday, July 6, 7:05 p.m. — Away: Xenia Scouts at Southern Ohio Copperheads (Athens); Saturday, July 7, 7:05 p.m. — Away: Xenia Scouts at Grand Lake Mariners (Celina); Sunday, July 8, 4:30 p.m. — Away: Xenia Scouts at Grand Lake Mariners (Celina).
Contact John Bombatch at 937-372-4444, Ext. 2123.