By Lyle Kittle
Celina improved to 5-0 on the season with a doubleheader sweep of Greenville on Saturday.
Brad Niley bested the Green Waves’ Michael Walker in a pitching duel in the opener, 3-1, and the Bulldogs broke the heavy metal in game two, posting a 13-6 win behind big two-out hits by Eric Braun and Sean Boley.
The twinbill loss drops Greenville to 1-2.
Niley survived a shaky first inning in his route-going win. Greenville’s Michael Werner opened the game by jumping on Niley’s first pitch for a single. Werner moved to second when a pickoff throw went awry, and took third on Niley’s balk. A single by shortstop Stephen Dumas plated the run to give the Green Wave a 1-0 lead. Greenville threatened by putting runners in scoring position in four additional innings, but Niley came up with the big pitch needed to close things out in each instance.
The Bulldogs gave Niley all the support he needed in the bottom of the third, after Braun reached on a one-out error by Dumas. Scott Boley singled Braun into scoring position and Sean Boley followed with a towering shot over the fence in left centerfield for a three-run homer.
“Brad definitely threw a nice game for us after the first,” said Bulldogs’ coach Bruce Boley. “I went out to talk to him and we had a nice little conversation. He buckled down and threw a real good game, and we made some plays behind him.”
Greenville took the lead in the second game also, scoring twice off Bulldogs’ starter Brian Geise in the second inning. Steven Long’s double scored Zach Fiely and Jeremy Lockhart, who had opened the frame with back-to-back singles.
The control problems of Green Wave starter Lance Kindell played a huge part in a five-run, second inning rally. After setting the Bulldogs down in order in the first, Kindell started the second by plunking Sean Boley to give Celina its first base runner. Geise sacrificed Boley to second and Garret Gray reached on a soft liner off Kindell’s glove with Boley holding at second.
A walk to Doug Vorhees loaded the bases, and a walk to Niley forced home the first run. Brian Gagle drew a two-out walk to force home the tying run and Braun found the gap in right center for a three-run double that put the Bulldogs in front, 5-2.
“We’re getting some good at- (Continued from page 1B)bats,” Boley said. “Everybody starts swinging the bats with more confidence, getting two-strike hits and not getting cheated. Braun’s hit was definitely a big two-out, full-count hit with the runners going. We were confident enough that we could hit with two strikes that we took some pitches because Kindell was struggling. I was giving the take sign on 3 and 1 (counts), to force him to throw two straight strikes.”
Celina added seven runs in the third, with Geise’s one-out double starting things. Gray walked and Vorhees singled home Geise. Niley was hit by a pitch to load the bases and Johnny Roberts drew a walk to force home a run.
Braun’s single plated another run and Scott Boley was hit by a pitch, sending Niley across the plate. Sean Boley blasted a double off the fence, scoring Roberts, Braun and Scott Boley.
Greenville scratched up a run against Geise in the fifth and got three runs off Braun in a two-inning relief stint. Sean Boley’s second homer of the day in the bottom of the sixth inning capped Celina’s scoring.
Geise picked up the win, going five innings and allowing three runs, with one of those unearned. Kindell went just two innings for Greenville, allowing five runs on just two hits, with three walks and a hit batsmen doing most of the damage.
Celina capitalized on some solid defense during the two games, with a standout play at second from Geise being one of several highlights. Geise ranged to his left, knocked down what appeared to be a base hit, and spun and picked the ball up, cutting down the runner at first.
“This may be one of the more athletic infields we’ve had in some time,” Boley said. “Our outfielders can cover some ground.”
The quick start is a boon to the Bulldogs, with more than a week to go before the Western Buckeye League schedule starts.
“If people had told me that we’d have five games in this week with the weather forecasts, I’d told them they were crazy,” Boley said. “The city recreation department did a great job getting this field ready. We’ve played all five here, and a couple of those were road games that were brought here because other fields weren’t ready. We’ve got St. Henry on Monday and Sidney on Tuesday and these five games are a real confidence builder for us.”