Even so it was five innings before anyone crossed the plate for either side. Pitching Coach Butch Thompson had gone with a couple of veterans to start the first scrimmage of preseason. For the second he matched-up freshmen and the kids did their part as righthanders Austin Sexton (Gray) and Dakota Hudson (Black) each tossed scoreless starting stints.
Hudson went two complete turns and had to handle an first-inning challenge. With two outs first baseman Wes Rea lifted a high drive that reached the track left-of-center and was off Jacob Robson’s glove for a double. A walk of second baseman Brett Pirtle had two on bases and hot Saturday swinger Zack Randolph up. Hudson was able to send him down swinging, then sat the side in his second. He allowed the two hits with three strikeouts and a walk.
Sexton by contrast retired the first six faced and was allowed back to begin the bottom of the third. Shortstop Seth Heck singled and outfielder Kyle Hann reached on an error at third base by Alex Detz. After Sexton struck out first baseman Dylan Ingram the top of the order was up again and lefty Lucas Laster was brought in. He’d struggled in a short Saturday relief stint and began this won with a bases-loading walk of leftfielder Nick Vickerson.
Robson looked to have driven in a run with his grounder to shortstop. Hann was forced and Heck was crossing the dish as Robson reached first…only to be ruled out by manager-turned-umpire Davis Parker.
Vance Tatum had thrown the top of the third and escaped his own issues. Because with Cody Brown on base via his leadoff bunt-single and two outs, Detz delivered a perfect run-and-hit. Brown was running which moved the Gray shortstop over towards the bag, and Detz drove his bouncer right through the vacated gap for a single and runners on third and first. But catcher Collins saved things; he caught Detz leading too far off first base and threw-in behind him for the out.
Tatum was replaced in the top of the fifth by Jacob Billingsley, and this freshman was attacked. Cody Walker reached on an infield single with one out, and while centerfielder Derrick Armstrong’s blooper to second forced the lead runner he still made first ahead of the relay. Armstrong stole second base, and on full count to Cody Brown was running for third.
The pitch was low for a ball that Collins had to get first before throwing to third base. The ball went off Reid Humphrey’s glove. Not only did Armstrong score the game’s first run but Brown never stopped and made it to second on a walk. So he was in scoring position for Joey Swinarski to bounce a base hit up the middle and make it 2-0.
With righty Avery Geyer on the hill for the sixth the Blacks expanded their lead. Detz worked a walk and an out later was joined on-base as Pirtle singled. Randolph followed suit with a base hit to center for the RBI. Geyer needed a bases-loaded comebacker from Armstrong to keep the deficit 3-0. Only temporarily, though.
Gray righthander Ben Hudspeth was hit for a seventh-inning scores as Brown singled and Swinarski walked. With one out Detz dropped a double inside the leftfield line that plated the lead runner, though Vickerson’s throw home got Swinarski for the second out. Walks of Rea and Pirtle loaded the bases and brought in righty Will Cox. His first pitch was taken to short rightfield by Randolph for the last RBI, with Rea trying to come home and getting tagged out—as he likely anticipated with the scrimmage running long.
John Marc Shelly took over pitching in the bottom of the fourth and retired the side. He did it again in the fifth, and came back for the sixth to sit two more. With the order starting over centerfielder C.T. Bradford was brought in to pitch a little relief. Vickerson greeted him with a lasher inside first base Rea couldn’t pick for a double. Bradford got Robson out anyway to keep the 5-0 lead.
Finally the Grays were able to scratch out runs in their last chance, at the expense of rookie righty Levi Mintz. A walk of Rooker and Henderson base hit had two on bases for Humphreys. His drive to left-center dropped for a RBI double. Shortstop Britton couldn’t come up with a Daniel Garner grounder and Henderson came across on the error. A walk of Collins re-loaded the bases and made a change as Cox entered to throw for the other team, without changing jersey.
Heck watched strike three for one out, then Hann got a chipper to drop behind second base for the 5-3 score and winning run on first base. Cox was able to get nine-hole hitter Ingram to ground into the day-ending double play.
The winning Black side had ten base hits against five for the Grays, with four of those coming in the last inning. Randolph had his second two-hit scrimmage and drove in runs on each of these safeties, while Brown had two hits as well. Detz did too, along with a walk that meant he has reached base somehow six of seven chances in the two scrimmages.
Five different Grays had a hit, and Hann was alone in making base twice in the seven innings. Statistically the best pitching performance belonged to Shelly as he sat all eight he faced.
Beyond swapping uniforms from day-one, the only change in lineups was in the middle-infield. Shortstops Britton and Heck changed teams for the second scrimmage.
Coach John Cohen would prefer to have the third scrimmage on Tuesday, but a cold forecast figures to push it back to Wednesday. There will be no Thursday scrimmaging so the Diamond Dogs can play intrasquads all next weekend, around the February 1 First Pitch Banquet.