By Brad Morris
If Rockstar Games ever wants to branch out from its highly successful Grand Theft Auto video game franchise, it may want to consult the Circleville baseball team.
The Tigers were swiping bases at will on Monday, finishing a Mid-State League Buckeye Division game with eight steals in a 4-0 win over visiting Amanda-Clearcreek.
“We weren’t hitting the way we can, so we had to improvise and be aggressive on the bases and also with playing some small ball,” Circleville senior Scott Moats said.
The Tigers dented the plate for the first time in the third inning.
Matt Bradley walked with one out, advanced to second when Moats was hit by a pitch and scored on a single by Nolan West that was misplayed by the center fielder.
Circleville doubled its lead an inning later on a delayed double steal with Drew Thornsley taking second and Keegan Piper half-sliding safely into home plate.
Moats laid down the first of two perfect bunts down the third base line to reach in the fifth. He then stole second, advanced to third on a passed ball and scored on an error.
“The third baseman was playing back and giving me the bunt, so I decided to take it,” Moats said. “I’m always working on my bunting back in the cage and it’s something that I can use when I need to.”
Drew Thornsley singled to left in the sixth to drive in Angelo Travis and put the Tigers ahead 4-0.
Amanda-Clearcreek loaded the bases with one out in the seventh, but a 1-2-3 double play sealed the win for Circleville.
Logan Smith went 2-for-3 with an RBI and Moats was a perfect 2-for-2 and scored.
Circleville coach Brian Bigam discussed how he wants to see fewer fly balls from his offense and more consistent contact.
“We were fortunate today, because Amanda has a young team and they let three-or-four balls drop in that probably should have been caught,” he said. “We hit way too many lazy fly balls today and, like (assistant coach Travis Gray) said during the postgame talk, we need to be looking to hit line drives and going backside with the baseball. It all comes back to having a good approach at the plate and following a plan.”
Leland Riley singled and doubled to lead the Aces.
Logan Smith worked six innings and allowed three hits, a pair of walks and struck out eight to earn the win. Trent Smith allowed a hit and struck out a batter in his inning of work.
“Logan was behind in the count a little bit too much in the first couple of innings, but he eventually settled in and gave us six good innings,” Bigam said. “The nice thing about Logan is he has three-to-four pitches, and we can pitch backward in the count.”
The Tigers (5-3, 1-1) travel to Canal Winchester on Tuesday for a non-league game, while the Aces (2-4, 1-2) continue league play on Wednesday at Bloom-Carroll.
Circleville 4, Amanda-Clearcreek 0
Am.-Clearcreek 000 000 0 — 0 4 3
Circleville 001 111 x —4 7 2
Brockman and Carruthers; Logan Smith, Trent Smith (7) and Gray.