After having games rained out in Lorain County Monday and Tuesday, the Chillicothe Paints returned home to face the West Virginia Miners, the same team they had just swept last weekend.
The Paints found similar success Wednesday.
Last weekend, the Paints snapped the Miners’ 10-game winning streak. Wednesday night, the Paints mimicked that performance against the Miners, winning a pitching duel in another low-scoring game. On six hits, the Paints beat the Miners 3-0 to move into a tie with the Miners for first place in the division.
Starter Chris Thomas and Reed Mason both struck out five batters and allowed four hits. Thomas improved to 2-0 and lowered his ERA to 1.50.
Mason earned the four-inning save, his first of the season.
“Chris fell behind a few guys early, but he did compete and that’s the big thing,” Paints manager Greg Cypret said of Thomas, who walked three batters. “You have to have command and hit your spots, but you also have to be tough mentally.”
Cypret said pitching coach Eric Parker’s use of the time during rainouts in the past few weeks really has benefited the pitching staff. For makeup games, Parker moved up some pitchers’ starts in order to give starters who needed rest, including Thomas, the opportunity to rest for a few more days.
“Chris had the arm thing three weeks ago, so we did nurse him back through bullpens and really watching his pitch count,” Cypret said.
The rainouts have not been all beneficial to the Paints.
The team’s offense has struggled to find a groove with the sporadic days off, and the team has only 13 hits in its last three games. Cypret said the rainouts are not the only reason for the offense’s struggles, but they haven’t helped. The Paints have not been able to take batting practice for four days.
“We’ve been sitting in the hotel watching it rain in Lorain,” Cypret said. “The weather looks a lot better the next couple days, so hopefully we can get out here a couple hours early and swing a lot and hit some breaking balls in the cage.”
Zac Mathie, who has been out with a hamstring injury, returned to the lineup Wednesday and hit a solo home run to kick-start the Paints’ offense in the fourth.
Daniel Zuchowski knocked in the Paints’ second earned run with a double that scored Vinnie Booker, who had reached on a single to centerfield.
“We don’t have that many left-handed hitters on this team,” Cypret said of Zuchowski and Mathie, the only two left-handed hitters in Wednesday’s lineup. “To have (Mathie) and Dan be two of the top four hitters, that really helps. (Mathie) may get a day off in a couple days just so we don’t push him too much.”
With the win over West Virginia, the Paints are now on a four-game winning streak and tied for first with the Miners. The Paints will host West Virginia again tomorrow at 7:05 p.m. at V.A. Memorial Stadium.