The 2021 season didn't start as planned with a first-week rainout, and a second-week deluge of runs from the opponent. The Rangers traveled to AIA and looked a little rusty in a 19-7 drubbing to the Xenia Scouts. In allowing the most runs on Opening Day in team history, the team committed 5 errors and allowed 11 walks.
Joe Becker, starting in his 6th opener, looked in control for the first couple innings, despite a couple errors in the first inning resulting in one run. Meanwhile, the Rangers failed to push a run across through the first three frames. The Scouts batted around in the bottom of the third as the first three batters produced hits. But a couple more fielding miscues allowed two more unearned runs to score putting the Rangers in an early 6-0 hole. The Rangers rallied in the top of the fourth by batting around as well. Robert Riley led off the inning with a hit. After an error and a sacrifice bunt from Kyle Moyer, Riley scampered home on a passed ball for his 200th MVABL run scored. Brandon Marshall and Chris Jones reached on errors before Nick Gilmore garnered his milestone moment with a 2-run single, his 200th career hit in league play. Michael Seebock, who earlier walked, scored the fourth run of the inning on a passed ball.
Trailing 6-4, Ryan Qvick came in from the bullpen to relieve Becker. Unfortunately, the 'walk' bug bit the young lefty as the Scouts countered with a 4-spot with 4 walks and a 2-run single from former Ranger Richard Kensinger. The Scouts increased the lead to 11-4 in the fifth. Brandon Saylor relieved Qvick and was able to strike out the side, but a triple and a wild pitch was the only blemish. The Scouts made it 14-4 in the 6th on a 3-run, inside-the-park HR from Mark Carpenter.
The Rangers chipped the lead in half in the top of the 7th. Ben Schooler singled with one out and Robert Riley doubled down the left field line. Marshall grounded out to second to plate Schooler. Riley would come around to score again on a wild pitch. Kyle Moyer kept the inning alive with a 2-out walk. Eric Becker reached on an error, to put runners on the corners. Eric proceeded to steal second, and the throw from the catcher allowed Moyer to score.
The Rangers turned to their fourth pitcher of the game as Kenny Owens came in relief in the 7th. Owens allowed one hit, but a pair of walks, a HBP, and a throwing error gave the Scouts back the 3 runs. Needing just 2 runs for the run-rule, the Scouts made quick work of reliever Hunter Kraynak in the 8th, getting a double and a single. After a strikeout, the Scouts worked a couple of more singles to produce the final runs of the game.
Historical Notes: Robert Riley scored his 200th MVABL run. Nick Gilmore picked up his 200th MVABL hit. The Rangers are 8 runs away from 5000 MVABL runs scored. The Rangers need 40 more runs to reach 6000 franchise runs. The Rangers need 80 more hits to reach 8000 franchise hits.