Brock Netter, Staff Writer
CHILLICOTHE — Simply put, Friday night was not meant to be for the Chillicothe Paints.
Despite collecting 15 hits on the night, Champion City (23-25) notched 12 itself and scored runs to support those base knocks, earning a 13-6 victory over the Paints (31-18).
“There’s still a number of things we have to continue working on,” Paints assistant manager Chad Roberts said. “Our pitchers need to throw first pitch strikes. Too many times we found ourselves pitching in 2-0 or 3-0 counts, which just sets the batter up for his pitch. We have to do better at working ahead and we have too many base running errors. We can’t continue to shoot ourselves in the foot trying to stretch a play. It’s run us out of innings.”
Champion City wasted no time getting ahead as Stephen Collen ripped an RBI single to drive home the first run of the game in the top of the first inning.
On the same play, a Paints fielding error drove home another run for the Kings, pushing the score to 2-0.
Champion City was just getting warmed up, though.
In the third, the Kings scored five runs, capped by Bo Seccombe, who promptly sent a 2-1 offering over the left field fence for a two-run homer, making it a 7-0 ball game.
“There was still a lot of game left and our guys have been great all year at battling back from deficits,” Roberts said. “They have a lot of resilience and it showed over the next few innings. They remained positive and continued to give themselves a chance.”
Chillicothe responded in the bottom half of the third with an RBI groundout off the bat of Cody Orr (Tiffin). That was followed by an RBI single from Chris Eisel (Indiana University of PA) for a 7-2 game.
Seccombe stepped back to the dish in the top of the fourth and smoked an RBI double off the center field fence, putting the score at 8-2.
But the Paints continued to chip away at the deficit.
Ethan Hajdukovic (Western Michigan) answered in the bottom half with a solo bomb for an 8-3 score before he kept his role going in the fifth with an RBI double, cutting the lead in half at 8-4.
“Ethan has been struggling just a little bit while everyone else was still hitting the ball pretty well,” Roberts said. “Well now, guys are starting to slow down a little and Ethan is picking up the steam, which is great to see. The thing about him is that he listens and wants to learn how to improve. He’ll try anything and he’s been hitting really well this past week.”
Gavin Homer (Penn State) hit an infield RBI single in the sixth, followed by an RBI single from Cole Andrews (Miami) that made it an 8-6 game.
While the Paints’ bat were waking up, the duo of Jack Huisman (Western Michigan) and Michael Hubert (Baldwin Wallace) was doing its part on the bump.
Prospect League East Division Standings
|Terre Haute REX||27||21||0.563||6|
|Champion City Kings||23||25||0.479||10|
|West Virginia Miners||17||32||0.347||16.5|
The bullpen duo held Champion City firmly in check for the next four innings. Huisman went 2 1/3 innings, allowing just an earned run while Hubert also went 2 1/3 innings and struck out a pair.
“Both guys were effective and did a great job on the hill,” Roberts said. “They were throwing first pitch strikes and working ahead in the count. Jack did a great job of mixing his pitches and keeping the batters guessing, as did Michael.”
However, the Kings scored three runs in top of the seventh on a bases loaded walk, followed by a two-run double by Jesse Hall that ultimately put an end to the Paints’ comeback attempt
Juan Broom (Mercyhurst) suffered the loss in 1 2/3 innings, allowing five hits, six earned runs and striking out a pair of batters.
Hajdukovic led the Paints at the plate by finishing 5-for-5 with a home run and two RBIs. Andrews, Eisel and Orr collected two hits and an RBI each on the night.
Chillicothe is back in action Saturday night at VA Memorial Stadium, hosting Normal, before hitting the road for eight of its last 10 games this season.
“Normally, this is around the time some guys check out because they’re exhausted and it’s been a long grind,” Roberts said. “But I haven’t seen any of that from these guys. They understand the position they’re in and they’re still chasing after something, which is the playoffs and the Prospect League Championship. They want it.”