Graders strike early but fall to Sugar Beets

By Chad Clinger -

SAGINAW, Michigan — After a nearly four hour van trip up to Dow Diamond, home of the Single-A Los Angeles Dodgers affiliate Grand Lake Loons, the Galion Graders were set to clash with the Saginaw Sugar Beets.

The traveling Graders were up first in the contest and got on the board quickly, despite a flyout to left field by Andrew Stone and a groundout to second by Michael Rodriquez. With two outs, Juan De La Cruz worked his way to a walk and first base. Austin Hathaway was next up was also placed on base via a walk and Galion had runners at second and first. Jacob Reimold delivered a single to load the bases for the Graders and send Jose De La Cruz to the dish. Jose proceeded to rip a 1-2 pitch for a double to plate his brother Juan and Hathaway to give the Galion squad the early 2-0 advantage. Tyler Pavone stepped in, looking to do more damage with two runners now in scoring position but would flyout to right to end the inning and send the Graders to their defensive positions.

Saginaw would go quietly in the home half of the first and the second innings and Galion went in order in the second to keep the game in favor of the visitors; 2-0.

In the top of the third, the Graders would manage just one hit, a one-out single off of the bat of Juan De La Cruz, but he would remain stranded at first base after the Sugar Beets got the rest of the line-up in order. Saginaw would capitalize in the bottom of the frame thanks to a one-out triple by Cooper Marshall, who would score on a Connor Charping sacrifice flyout to center field. With Gaosh Williams now on second after a walk and the sac fly, Adam Proctor delivered a two-out single to plate Williams and tie the game at two runs apiece heading into the fourth.

Bill Hitman would reach for Galion in the top of the fourth on a two-out single but would be left there when Christopher Jordan hit a routine fly ball to center to end the inning. Saginaw went in order thanks to a pair of groundouts to short and a strikeout.

Neither team was able to get offense brewing in the fifth inning and Galion managed just a lead-off single by Hathaway in the sixth. Hathaway would be erased from the base path however when Jose De La Cruz grounded into a fielder’s choice to the shortstop. De La Cruz would be left at first as Pavone grounded out to third for the final out in the Graders’ portion of the sixth. After a quick two outs in the bottom of the inning, Sean Fannon was plunked by a pitch and awarded first base. Fannon would then steal second to put himself into scoring position for Saginaw, sending up Ryan Missal. Missal would drive Fannon home on a single but would be stranded at first. Heading into the seventh, the Sugar Beets held the narrow, 3-2 lead over their visitors.

Galion saw two runners reach base early on in the seventh as Hitman and Jordan both walked. Both runners moved up on the base path thanks to a wild pitch by Saginaw pitcher Jordan Williams. With runners at second and third with nobody out, the Sugar Beets got out of the inning unscathed thanks to a Andrew Stone groundout, a Rodriquez strikeout and a Juan De La Cruz flyout to right field. The Graders missed their opportunity to move ahead and headed into the bottom of the seventh still trailing 3-2.

The bottom of the seventh would be a devastating inning for the Galion defense and it all began with a lead-off from Noah Marcoux, his fourth of the season. Saginaw then used a pair of singles, a couple of wild pitches by the Graders pitching staff and a walk to plate two additional runs to move ahead by a tally of 6-2. The Sugar Beets scored their three runs in the frame but left the bases loaded.

In the eighth inning, Galion would see Hathaway and Vince Donato reach base via walks but were left stranded in place as the rest of the line-up went in order. Rodriquez managed a two-out single in the final inning for Galion but he too would be left there as Juan De La Cruz grounded out to second to end the ballgame with the Sugar Beets earning the 6-2 victory.

The Graders drop to 9-5 overall on the season after the defeat as Saginaw improves to 11-8. Galion plated their two runs on seven hits, committed no errors and left 10 total runners on the base path. The Sugar Beets scored six runs thanks to 11 hits, had no errors and stranded 11 runners on base.

Branden Schlick got the nod as the starter for the Graders and worked the first five innings, allowing two hits and two earned runs while walking three and striking out three. Tex Norrell came on in relief and tossed 1⅓ innings, allowing four hits and four earned runs while striking out two and receiving the loss. Davis Tovey pitched the remainder of the contest, giving up just two while recording two walks and a strikeout.

Offensive stats for Galion on Tuesday were: Team- 7/33 at the plate; 7H, 2R, 2RBI, 6BB, 6K; Rodriquez- 1B; Juan De La Cruz- 1B, R; Hathaway- 1B, R; Reimold- 1B; Hitman- 1B; Jordan- 1B and Jose De La Cruz- 2B, 2RBI.

These two teams are set to meet again, this time at Cardinal Field in Saginaw, on Wednesday evening. Galion will return home for a pair of games against the Hamilton Joes on Thursday and Friday with action set to begin at 7:05 p.m. both days. After a trip to Cincinnati for a clash with the Steam on Saturday, June 30, the Graders will return home to Heddleson on Sunday, July 1 for game two against the Cincinnati squad, also at 7:05 p.m.

By Chad Clinger

Follow Chad on Twitter @GalionSportsGuy

Reach Chad at 419-468-1117 x2048

Follow Chad on Twitter @GalionSportsGuy

Reach Chad at 419-468-1117 x2048