By John Bombatch
XENIA — If the outcomes of games in any sport were determined by a school’s size, Xenia would’ve been a shoo in to simply crush tiny DeGraff Riverside in Saturday’s high school baseball doubleheader.
Ohio High School Athletic Association figures put little Riverside’s total student count at 176 kids. Xenia’s total count is listed at 890, just over five times as many kids.
But you play with nine student athletes on either side in baseball. And if one side has a more experienced nine than the other? Well, Saturday’s games proved that knowledge of the game can make a big difference.
Tiny Division IV Riverside swept the doubleheader with giant Division I Xenia with a 4-3 win in the opener, then an 11-7 win in the second.
Unofficially, Riverside had four errors that led to seven Buccaneer runs; Xenia had five miscues that also led to seven runs.
“In baseball, I don’t think it matters much as to how big your school is,” Xenia coch Barry Claus said. “It’s America’s game, and sometimes small schools are just loaded with tradition. They’re enjoying a nice season. That was their 14th win (to one loss), and they’re a good team.
“But we hurt ourselves. Our defense wasn’t very good. Our timely hitting didn’t come through. I think we stranded a small village on the bases today (three base runners were left on base in the first game; nine were stranded in the second), … and I’d like to know how many runners we had in scoring position with no outs or one out. It was too many.”
Claus wasn’t about to take anything away from Riverside’s effort, however. Xenia made its share of mistakes, but Riverside played a solid couple of ballgames.
“They did the little things to win, they executed their bunts and took advantage of our mistakes,” Claus added.
The Pirates used their short game to bunt five times in the second game’s fifth inning to ultimately score four runs. They had a big 3-run, 3-hit fourth inning in Game One, and took advantage of two Xenia errors along the way, to jump out in front for good.
Pirates coach Derrick Purtee chalked it up to team experience.
“Right now, we’ve got 4-5 starting seniors and they’ve really just bought into everything we’ve told them to do,” he said. “We just try to work on the little things in practice, and these guys have really bought into doing that. We’re having fun and the guys are making plays.”
The Pirates’ clean-up hitter Connor Cotterman and no. 9 batter Logan Stobbe — both seniors — collected a total of four hits each in the two games. Cotterman knocked in a total of five Riverside runs and scored three others.
State bowling champion Evan Adkins showed he can hit strikes, too. Adkins collected three hits and drew a pair of walks for Xenia. Buccaneer teammate Robbie DeLong also had three hits in the series. He went 3 for 4 in the second game, and was called out on a close play at home while trying to score the tying run in the fifth inning; and Eli Davis was the other Buc to collect multiple hits. He finished with two, walked once and scored a run.
Xenia is now 6-11 overall.
“They have some good players. I’m sure they didn’t throw their best pitchers at us, and those guys gave our hitters some fits,” Purtee said. “They’re right in the same position we were a couple years ago, with inexperienced players who just need to build on their abilities. They just have to stick with it and keep playing hard.”
Xenia lost on the road to Miamisburg by an 18-1 score on Monday. They’re scheduled to host the Vikings at 5 p.m. today.