Derrick Webb, Staff Writer
CHILLICOTHE — Brian Bigam simply wants his team to compete.
Bigam, who’s now in his second season as the Chillicothe Paints’ manager, was happy with the effort his team turned in on Opening Night, Thursday.
In the end, the Paints (0-1) fell to Champion City by a 3-2 final. But, on the first night of a lengthy summer season, Bigam said his roster showed shades of promise.
“Over the first week, two weeks of the season, our job is to get to know our players,” Bigam said. “We’ve literally had two practices and, a lot of the guys, I saw throw a bullpen for the first time yesterday. So with all the guys, I just expect them to go out and compete. Our pitchers gave us a chance to win the game tonight and that’s what we want.”
Collin Hoffmann (Otterbein University) started the game on the bump for Chillicothe, and eventually took the tough-luck loss. The 5-foot-10, 195-pound right-hander threw five innings, allowing two earned runs on five hits and striking out four.
“I think all the guys, Opening Night with 3,000-plus fans, you get a lot of those first game jitters,” Bigam said. “I thought Collin competed. If I had to nitpick, we fell behind too many hitters tonight but he did a good job competing and putting us in a position to where we could win the game.”
While Hoffmann tried to hold the Kings (1-0) at bay, Champion City’s duo of Noah Schleinitz and Joshua Pahlad frustrated Paints hitters.
Schleinitz started the game, tossing three frames, while Pahlad picked up the win in the next four innings of work. Chillicothe loaded the bases in the bottom of the first inning but failed to score … setting the rest of the night’s offensive tone.
“I think the big thing tonight was bases loaded in the first with one out and we couldn’t score,” Bigam said. “If we put one or two across the plate there, I think our guys play a lot looser. We just have to keep being aggressive. I thought we hit some balls hard. We put some good swings on it.”
Champion City took a 1-0 lead thanks to a solo home run off the bat of Hunter May in the top of the fourth. Later in that same inning, Stephen Cullen doubled into left field, scoring Kawambee Moss and making it 2-0.
The Paints answered in the bottom of the inning, cutting the lead in half when Charlie Patrick (Depauw University) singled to bring in Ethan Hajdukovic (Western Michigan University).
In the seventh, the Kings took a 3-1 lead — with the eventual game-winning run — when Chase Carney sent a sacrifice fly into left field. Chillicothe’s Cole Andrews (Miami University) rounded out the game’s final with a solo homer in the eighth.
Andrews led the Paints offense, finishing 2-for-4 with a home run while four others players collected base hits. Jesse Hall was the only King to collect multiple hits, ending the night 2-for-5. May was 1-for-2 with a home run while Carney and Cullen each logged RBIs.
The Paints and Kings will meet Friday night for the second contest of a four-game series, back at VA Memorial Stadium with first pitch slated for 7:05 p.m. Chillicothe will travel to Champion City for the remaining two games this weekend.
Bigam has slated Taylor Perrett (Denison University) as Friday’s starting pitcher.
“Taylor is a returning starter and he did a good job for us last year,” Bigam said. “We’re wanting to throw him tomorrow since he’s used to pitching at home and throwing in front of our fans. He’ll be on the bump and, hopefully, he’ll fill up the zone.”
To find news, updates, and more information about the Paints, be sure to visit chillicothepaints.com.