GALION — On Thursday evening, the Galion Graders returned to Heddleson Field in Heise Park to open a seven-game homestand against the visiting Southern Ohio Copperheads.
Things got off to a bit of a rough start for the home team as Southern Ohio would strike early and often. In the opening frame, the Copperheads would post two runs thanks to three hits but would see two runners left stranded as Galion was able to salvage a big threat. In the home half of the first, Bryce Ray would lead-off with a double to begin a potential big inning for the Graders. After a flyout to left by Luke Correia, Steven D’Eusanio roped a single to put runners on the corners with one away. DeVonte Washington would get Galion on the board with a sacrifice fly to left, scoring Ray. In stepped Andrew Sharp who needed just two pitches to record a single to once again put runners at first and third for the home squad. However, JP Bitzenhofer would flyout to the pitcher to end the inning with the Graders trailing by one at 2-1.
After allowing the two runs in the first, Galion starting pitcher Wyatt Smith would be chased off the hill following a pair of walks and a single that led to another run for the visitors. Parker Brown came on in relief in a tough spot and hit the first batter that he faced to load the bases for Southern Ohio. Sebastin Fabik would unload the bases, taking the first pitch offering from Brown deep over the “Blue Monster” in right field to distance the Copperheads further; 7-1. In that top of the second, the visitors would tack on another run to take a lofty, seven-run lead into the bottom of the frame at 8-1. Galion would see Ryan Strittmather reach via a two-out double but he would be stranded there as Ray flew out to second to end the inning.
Southern Ohio would tally two runs apiece in both the third and fourth innings while keeping Galion off of the scoreboard to take a 12-1 lead into the fifth inning. The Graders would finally be able to silence the bats of the Copperheads in the fifth but were unable to cut into the deficit in the bottom of the frame.
Scoring would pick up again for both squads in the sixth. Southern Ohio would score three additional runs in the top of the inning thanks to just two hits but two costly Graders’ errors. In what could of been a potentially huge innings for the visitors, the Copperheads left the bases loaded as Jared Heard, who crushed a two-run homer in the fourth, grounded out to short to stop the bleeding for Galion. D’Eusanio led-off the Graders’ sixth with a single and would come around to score on the very next pitch. Washington took the first pitch that he saw from Southern Ohio pitcher Jackson Mandella deep to left. Heard gave chase to the ball but despite leaping to try and make a play at the fence, the ball would hit just off the top of his glove and out of the park for a two-run homer. Following Washington’s home run, his second of the summer, Sharp singled and would score on a Bitzenhofer double. With nobody out and the score now 15-4, Nicholas Sykes and Takahiro Yamada would flyout. Strittmather recorded a two-out single but would be stranded following a Ray fielder’s choice. After Bitzenhofer scored, the Graders found themselves entering the seventh trailing by a score 15-5.
Galion would, for just the second time in the game, hold Southern Ohio scoreless to send them to the dish still trailing by 10 runs. Sean McLaughlin led-off with a double in his first at-bat in the game, taking the ball deep off the base of the wall in left. D’Eusanio went down on strikes, Galion’s only strikeout of the contest, before Washington recorded out number two on a flyout to short. With two down, Sharp reached via a throwing error and would be awarded second as the ball found its way into the Copperheads’ bullpen, giving McLaughlin home plate and a run as a result. Bitzenhofer grounded out to short to end the inning with the Graders still down; 15-6.
Southern Ohio scored three additional runs in the top of the eighth thanks to a double and a trio of singles to take the game to its eventual final score of 18-6 as the Graders recorded just one more hit, a single from Sykes in the eighth, to end the contest.
Pitching statistics for Galion on Thursday were: SP/LP Smith- IP, 4H, 5R (4E), 3BB, K; Brown- IP, 3H, 3ER; Gavin Lewis- 2IP, 4H, 4ER, 4BB; McLaughlin- 2IP, 2H, 3R (E), 3BB, K; Yamada- IP, H, BB, K; Bitzenhofer- H, 3ER, 2BB; Thomas Staab- IP, 3H and Sharp- IP, 2K.
Offensive statistics for the Graders: Team- 13/39, HR, 4-2B, 8-1B, 6R, 4RBI, 0BB, K, 2SB; Ray- 2B, R; Correia- 1B; McLaughlin- 2B, R; D’Eusanio- 2-1B, R; Washington- HR, R, 3RBI; Sharp- 2-1B, R, 2SB; Bitzenhofer- 2B, R, RBI; Sykes- 1B and Strittmather- 2-1B, 2B.
In total, Southern Ohio scored their 18 runs on 18 hits while stranding 17 runners on the base path. Defensively, they committed three errors on the day while Galion finished with two miscues. The Graders plated six on 13 hits and left seven runners on. With the loss, Galion fell to 4-14 overall on the season while the Copperheads moved to an even .500 at 10-10.
Game two of the series is set to take place on Friday evening before Galion welcomes the Licking County Settlers to Heddleson for a two-game series on Saturday and Sunday. On Tuesday and Wednesday, the Graders will play host to the Michigan Monarchs.
Galion 9, Cincinnati 8; Cincinnati 5, Galion 2
CINCINNATI — Another rainout on Tuesday, June 25 caused the hosting Cincinnati Steam and the visiting Galion Graders to play a doubleheader on Wednesday, June 26.
In game one of the double-dip, Galion would use a seventh-inning rally consisting of six runs to overcome a 7-3 deficit to eventual win the contest; 9-8. The Graders scored their nine runs on just seven hits while leaving eight runners on while Cincy plated eight on 11 hits, stranding 10. Galion finished the game with two errors defensively to the Steam’s one error.
Trey Bame earned the win for the visitors, working the fifth and sixth innings, giving up four hits and three earned runs while walking three and fanning one. Christopher Punka netted the save, tossing the final ⅔ of an inning.
Other stats from the game one win were: SP Jarrett Miller- 4IP, 7H, 4R(3E), 5BB, 2K; Korren Thompson- ⅓IP, ER, 3BB; Strittmather- R; Austin Harper- 1B; Garrett Kuns- R; Sharp- 1B, R, RBI; Washington- 2-1B, RBI, SB; D’Eusanio- R, RBI; Staab- 1B, R, RBI; Bitzenhofer- 1B, 2B, 2R, RBI, SB; Sykes- R, SB and Yamada- R, 2RBI.
Game two of the doubleheader would go in favor of the home team as Cincinnati prevailed by a final score of 5-2. The two squads finished with five hits apiece while the Steam left six runners on to the Graders five. Galion committed four errors in game two while the home squad tallied just one miscue.
James Kontur took the loss after starting the game for Galion, giving up four runs (three earned) and three hits in five innings of work. Kontur earned six strikeouts and two walks in his time on the hill. Punka gave up a hit and an earned run while Chase Jessee tossed an inning, allowing a hit while issuing two walks and striking out a pair.
Strittmather finished with two singles on the day while Bitzenhofer blasted a home run, scored once and knocked in two. Staab and Correia recorded the other two Galion hits, both singles while Correia stole a bag and D’Eusanio scored a run.