Brotherhood key in Travelers sweep of Saints

Sometimes the best rivalries in sports are the sibling rivalries.

In the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader against the Tiffin Saints, Scott Underwood of the Ohio Travelers launched a grand slam that helped put the game out of reach. Not to be outdone, brother Eric, a teammate, hit a home run of his own in the seventh inning.

Still, Scott should have the upper-hand hitting a grand slam compared to the two-run shot Eric hit right?

“No, he’s got two on the season, I only got 1. He let me know about it in centerfield after he hit his,” Scott Underwood said.

Just a typical sibling rivalry.

“That’s how it works with us,” Scott Underwood added. “Everything’s got to be equal but if one of us gets up on the other one, they’ll let them know about it.”

And Saturday, they’re Travelers let everyone know they weren’t the same team that lost Friday to the Saints, 10-1. The Travelers took a pair from the Saints Saturday winning a pitcher’s duel in the opener 3-1, then pounded out a 13-2 win the Game 2.

“We all knew it was going too be a different day,” Underwood said. “You just had that feeling. We know we’re a better team than what we showed last night and we know we’re a really good hitting team. It felt like we went out and hit and played like we should’ve.”

The Travelers erased any bad taste left in their mouths from Friday when James Coleman outdueled Steve Landell in the opener.

Coleman went 6 2/3 innings allowing just four hits and an earned run. He walked three but struck out seven.

“James was on and he was great,” Travelers manager Jay Zeiter said. “I’ve seen that out of him before and he just proved it once again, he can do it. I’m so impressed with the attitude of these guys. They all want to be here as teammates and worked hard together.”

Coleman credited mixing up his pitches as a key to his success, and helping its team regain momentum.

“My fastball, splitfinger,” he said when asked what was working well for him. “Just keeping them off balance.

“Yesterday was yesterday, so I just left it in the past. I just came out today and tried to have a good start.”

The Travelers struck quick with a run in the first, but Landell kept them quiet until the sixth. Meanwhile the Saints tied the game when Andrew Azzopardi doubled down the left field line, scoring Tyler Surnbrock.

The Travelers, though, broke the tie in the sixth. Scott Underwood lifted a sac-fly to center, and Ray Frias beat the throw home for a 2-1 lead. The Travelers added one more run in the seventh for the final margin.

Zeiter credited Coleman’s performance for turning the momentum of the series.

“Game 1 was really big,” he said. “James Coleman did a job on the mound. We got some timely hitting and made the plays. Ray Frias sliding into home on that fly ball was just a big big play to give us the lead. Then we added on in the seventh inning and got great pitching. Both games we got great pitching.

Landell took the tough-luck loss, going six innings, scattering seven hits and allowing the two runs.

“It was definitely a tough game,” he said. “They pitched a great game. I think we played a good game, a couple miscues on defense, but overall, just a really good matchup. A couple more hits here or there, maybe one miscue by them and we’re right back in the game. Tough game to lose, but their pitcher pitched a heck of a game.”

In Game 2, the Saints took a 2-1 lead in the third inning when Angel Vargas singled home Tyler McIntyre. They were poised for more with the bases loaded, but when the Travelers tried a pickoff play at first, Azzopardi left third for home where he was gunned down for the final out of the inning.

Even though his team went on to post 13 runs in the game – nine of which came in the following inning – Zeiter pointed to that as the turning point.

“Maybe the biggest turnaround play was when we picked (Azzopardi) off at home,” he said. “Bases were loaded, it was a 3-1 count, we get the throw down to first, he picks the ball out throws it home, we tag him out. Inning’s over, then we go score nine. That was big.”

Jack Masin picked up the win, tossing 5 2/3 innings, allowing eight hits but only two runs. Columbian graduate Josiah Greenwald pitched the final inning-and-a-third to shut the door on the Saints.

Saints manager Ryan Parent let it be known after the twin-bill he was far from pleased with his team’s performance.

“We didn’t execute today,” he said. “We played bad. Our pitchers didn’t keep people from hitting. … Second game we lost 13-2, that’s bad. We can’t be giving up those opportunities. I understand a blowout’s going to happen, but that’s twice in two weeks. People need to start doing their jobs. If you get put out there to get outs, and you don’t get outs, you’re not going to stick around.”

With the pair of wins, the Travelers overtake the Saints in the Independent Baseball League standings with a 6-5 record, while the Saints slip to 5-6.