By John Bombatch
XENIA — The host Xenia Scouts had plenty of opportunities early on, but just couldn’t capitalize, in Wednesday’s 5-4 loss to the visiting Hamilton Joes.
The South Division Champion Scouts had the bases loaded with nobody out in the first inning, but Hamilton came up with two infield forceouts at home and a lazy fly ball to right field to get out of trouble without a blemish on the scoreboard. Xenia had the bases loaded three times in that first inning, and they also loaded the bases in the fifth without scoring as well. It wasn’t until they loaded the bases twice in the seventh inning that the Scouts managed to bring in a run.
Ryan O’Hearn drew a bases loaded walk to score John Sharpe with a run in the seventh for Xenia.
But by the time Xenia had scored, Hamilton was out in front with five runs.
Kyle Moore started the Joes scoring attack with a no-doubter solo h0me run over the left field wall in the fifth inning.
Hamilton pushed across three more runs in the sixth inning on an RBI single by Bryson Shelton and then a two-RBI single by Moore. The Joes then tagged on another run in the seventh when Tyler Friis doubled to score Jackson Boyce.
Xenia had another bases loaded chance in the eighth inning, when Sharpe and Jeremy Barth drew back-to-back walks and then Evan McDonald advanced everybody a base with a single into left, but Bowling Green State University reliever Wesley Rickenburg struckout the next Scouts batter to end the threat.
The Scouts threatened with the bases loaded again in the bottom of the ninth, with RBIs by Donald Ring (ground-rule double) and a two-RBI single by Sharpe. But with two outs and the tying run on first, Hamilton closer Cameron Ross of the University of Cincinnati got the next Scouts batter to flyout to deep left field for the final out. Unofficially, Xenia stranded 15 runners on base for the game.
With the loss, Xenia is in a must-win position tonight when they’ll take on the Joes for Game Two at Hamilton’s Foundation Field. The Scouts have to win in order to force a deciding Game 3. If they lose, their season is over.
In the other playoff series, the top-seed Lima Locos edged the Licking County Settlers, 4-3. That series heads to Newark for their Game 2, which will also be played tonight.
Scouts fans who can’t catch tonight’s Xenia-Hamilton contest in Hamilton, there’s still a way to follow the action. Scouts announcer Andrew Alix will provide the coverage on YouTube.com/xeniascoutsradio.com.
Wright State redshirt freshman Jorge Lozano is scheduled to start for Xenia at 7:05 p.m. tonight
John Bombatch can be reached at 937-372-4444, Ext. 2123.