Tiffin Saints set to play Travelers…again

With the season past the halfway point, familiarity with an opponent is pretty much expected. So when two teams share the same city and, in some instances, have players from each share the same house, you get to know the other guy pretty well.

Because of that, the unexpected is, well, unexpected – like Saturday’s games.

The Tiffin Saints host the Ohio Travelers in a doubleheader starting at 1 p.m. at Heidelberg University’s Peaceful Valley.

That part is pretty standard. The unexpected part comes in them playing at all this weekend.

The Saints were originally set to begin hosting the Marion Shovel City Crawlers in a four-game series Friday, but the Crawlers folded Wednesday, leaving the Independent Baseball League with just three teams (see separate story).

The IBL quickly shuffled the remaining teams’ schedules, with the two rivals kicking off the revamped version.

Both managers said they expect what’s become a typical fun matchup.

“It’s always a good game. That’s what makes it fun, it can go either way,” Saints manager Ryan Parent said.

“The guys still enjoy playing against each other. Between the two teams, we’re a very close-knit group. Sure, it’s fun to beat up someone, but it’s funner to beat up on your friend,” he said. “Plus we make for a good game. We keep the games loose. They’ve been very entertaining games.”

The Saints went 3 for 4 in last week’s series to take over the top spot in the IBL at 12-8.

The Travelers enter this weekend 10-10, with the Adrian (Mich.) Pioneers, who host the Travelers in a doubleheader Sunday before hosting the Saints in a doubleheader Monday, now 8-12.

The Travelers will send right-hander Josh Weber, who suffered a 2-1 loss to the Saints last week, to the mound in Saturday’s opener.

Southpaw Jack Mason gets the call in the nightcap.

Jay Zeiter, the Travelers manager, said pitching is not his main concern heading into Saturday’s game. His focus is aimed elsewhere.

“Basically, that we can go out and not make errors and score when we have opportunities,” he said, “because both of those things have hurt us in our losses to the Saints.

“We’re just going to show up and play hard,” he said.

They’ll face a couple right-handed hurlers in Blake Ware and Zach Botjer, as well as a squad very familiar with the Saints, Parent said.

“We pretty much know how to play them,” he said. “They may get a lucky hop here or there, but for the most part we know where to position guys.

“We’re looking forward to continuing the season,” Parent said. “We hope the town of Tiffin is behind us and we look forward to playing our games.”