Sports Today: Defensive gems, conspiracy theories come with Reds win

Published: Thursday, May 17, 2018 @ 9:53 AM

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - MAY 16:  Scooter Gennett #3 of the Cincinnati Reds leaps over Brandon Belt #9 of the San Francisco Giants after getting his throw off to complete the douple play in the bottom of the fifth inning at AT&T Park on May 16, 2018 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - MAY 16: Scooter Gennett #3 of the Cincinnati Reds leaps over Brandon Belt #9 of the San Francisco Giants after getting his throw off to complete the douple play in the bottom of the fifth inning at AT&T Park on May 16, 2018 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)(Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

Maybe this summer won’t be so long after all… 

With the Cincinnati Reds winning five of seven on the West Coast and looking like an actual major-league baseball team more often than not over about a three-week span, taking a peak at the box score in the morning isn’t so terrifying anymore. 

There was lots to like about Cincinnati’s 6-3 win in San Francisco on Wednesday, but the numbers only told part of the story. 

This game was also marked by wild plays in the field and wild accusations afterward. 

With Jose Peraza setting the table with two hits, the 2-3-4 hitters went 5 for 11 and drove in five runs, but that might not have been enough without some great defense along the way. 

Scooter Gennett saved the day with a running/leaping catch to end a bases-loaded threat in the sixth, then the No. 2 hitter homered in the top of the seventh for an insurance run. 

HAL MCCOY: Gennett making himself a marketable asset

The bullpen put together five scoreless innings — which has become surprisingly expected — to set up the nuttiest part of the day. 

After Brandon Belt was called out on strikes to end the ninth inning against Raisel Iglesias, the Giants left fielder wondered aloud if the umpire had intentionally called a ball a strike just to get the game over sooner. 

The pitch was outside, but this of course is an insane accusation. 

Not that I’m complaining. 

Yesterday the Great Joey Votto Podcast Controversy of 2018 established again honesty doesn’t pay for athletes anymore in the land of hot takes, but when they have one like this the picture is a lot different. 

The Reds first baseman got some heat for expressing genuine opinions (the Reds’ start was embarrassing) that are rooted in fact (the Reds lost most of their first 21 games). There was nothing unreasonable about what he said. 

Belt, meanwhile, comes across like an insane person while also calling into question the integrity of an umpire based on some alleged comments about wanting to speed the game up. 

I’m not sure how long Brandon Belt has been associated with baseball, but I thought most people were aware umpires make incorrect calls fairly regularly. 

(The longer I live, the more I’ve come to realize human error is the explanation for life’s problems far more often than sinister motives.) 

Part of me thinks he should be heavily fined or suspended just for being dumb enough to actually say out loud something I would feel uncomfortable murmuring to a buddy at the bar, but then again I’m all for authenticity so maybe we should just let the court of public opinion handle this one... 

Meanwhile, Matt Harvey wasn’t as sharp as he was in his first Reds start, but the righty said afterward he felt stronger later in the game than he has in a while. 

“It’s been a while since I’ve felt stronger throughout a game, so getting up toward 80 pitches and still feeling strong and noticing the ball coming out the way it was it’s definitely a big positive,” he said.

So far so good, eh? 

On the flip side, Devin Mesoraco is hitting only .200 for the Mets, but he has homered twice in only 15 at-bats…  

Which Cincinnati Bengals rookie free agents have the best chance to make the active roster this fall? 

Jay Morrison picked the top five, and it feels like the first two are the most likely by far. 

Ohio State’s Chris Worley could bring more athleticism to a linebacker room in transition, and his football instincts are sure to impress the coaching staff. 

Quinton Flowers, the former South Florida quarterback, could turn out to be a Swiss Army knife for the offense and special teams. 

Perhaps a new Josh Cribbs? 

That’s a lot to live up to, but it’s also tantalizing to think about... 

  

Finally, did you see David Jablonski’s comparison of the first year of recruiting at Dayton for the last four Flyers coaches? 

Of course lots has changed since Olver Purnell was hired 24 years ago, but it was really interesting to see each coach found one very important player in his first year. 

For Purnell, it was Ryan Perryman, who stuck with the Flyers despite Jim O’Brien’s exit. 

Brian Gregory signed Brian Roberts out of Toledo while Archie Miller snagged a key transfer (Jordan Sibert) and freshman (Dyshawn Pierre). 

From here, Grant appears to have a shot to better all of them based on the freshman seasons of Jalen Crutcher (a Grant recruit) and Jordan Davis (a Miller holdover) plus the signing of four-star 2018 guard Dwayne Cohill. 

Of course that will require Crutcher and Davis to build on their promising first campaigns and Cohill to be as good as the scouts say. 

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Kenton Ridge beats Northwestern to advance to district final

Published: Wednesday, May 16, 2018 @ 7:15 PM

Highlights: Kenton Ridge beats Northwestern

The final at-bat took an eternity. Kenton Ridge pitcher Carly Turner threw pitch after pitch to Northwestern's Bry White with runners at first and second and two outs in the seventh inning Wednesday.

» PHOTOS: Kenton Ridge vs. Northwestern

White fouled a number of pitches into the fields surrounding the diamond at Shawnee High School before striking out on the 10th pitch. That one at-bat told the story of this Division II sectional final. Kenton Ridge won 3-2, but Northwestern showed fight until the last pitch.

“It’s always a good game between Northwestern and Kenton Ridge,” Kenton Ridge coach Sarah Schalnat said. “In the regular season, they went up 3-0, and we came back and tied it up and went ahead after that. It’s back and forth, good pitching, good batters on both sides.”

Kenton Ridge (22-1) advanced to play Monroe (18-2) in a Division II district championship at 5 p.m. Friday in Brookville. Monroe beat Franklin 5-0 on Wednesday in Lebanon.

 

Monroe has never won a district championship. Kenton Ridge last won the district title in 2016 before losing 2-1 to Hamilton Ross in the regional semifinal.

"I think the seniors really want it," Schalnat said. "They're focused. Every day they come to practice ready to practice. They're shocked if I give them any time off. They know they're going to practice and be there for a couple hours."

» DISTRICT TRACK: Photos from Piqua

This Kenton Ridge team ranks second in the state and has won nine games in a row since losing 7-6 to Jonathan Alder on April 27. Turner, who won her 20th game Wednesday, is a big reason why. She carried the Cougars at the plate and on the mound in this game.

Turner drove in the first two runs of the game with a single in the first. Peyton Fleming and Lexee Trainer scored on the hit. Turner also doubled in the third.

On the mound, Turner struck out five. The Warriors recorded eight hits but left nine runners on base.

“Big day for Carly,” Schalnat said. “Carly does a great job. She has the command on the pitching rubber. When she gets up, I expect a hit. She’s going to put the ball in play.”

The Warriors rallied after falling behind 2-0, tying the game in the fourth. A double by Miranda Gillman scored White and Hannah Weymouth.

» OHSAA NEWS: State approves change to transfer rule

Kenton Ridge regained the lead in the fifth. A single by Trainer scored Jordan Rucker. That turned out to be the game-winning RBI.

Northwestern finished the season 18-8. It was playing in Division II this season after competing in Division III last season. A year ago, it reached the state semifinals before losing 10-0 to Warren Champion.

This was the final game for four players who started in the final four last season: seniors Jamie Rutherford, Ashlee Barger, Macie Crew and Jenna Robbins.

"We had four great seniors," Northwestern coach Missy Johnson said. "It's hard to put into words how much they mean to the team, but we really had a great season bonding as a family. We're close. It's just sad we had to end today."

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District softball: Kenton Ridge beats Monroe to reach regionals

Published: Sunday, May 20, 2018 @ 9:27 PM

Highlights: Kenton Ridge beats Monroe in district softball

After postponements Friday and Saturday because of rain and a one-hour delay because of thunder on Sunday, Kenton Ridge and Monroe finally got to play their Division II district championship.

The Cougars (23-1), ranked second in the state, advanced to the regional semifinals for the first time since 2016 with a 6-2 victory at Brookville High School. The game started at 7 p.m. and finished just before it got too dark to play.

» RELATED: Bradford wins district softball title | Lebanon beats Fairfield

Monroe, which was seeking its first district championship, finished the season 18-3. Senior Faith Hensley, a Ball State recruit, hit a two-run home run in the seventh inning in the last at-bat of her high school career.

Kenton Ridge will play another Central Buckeye Conference team, Jonathan Alder, at 5 p.m. Wednesday at Mason High School. The teams split in the regular season. Both games went to extra innings. Kenton Ridge won 4-3 in Springfield on April 18 and lost 7-6 at Jonathan Alder on April 27. The Cougars have won 10 straight games since their only loss.

» EARLIER COVERAGE: Kenton Ridge beats Northwestern in sectional final

No. 4 Greenville and No. 7 Clinton Massie will play at 2 p.m. Wednesday in the other regional semifinal at Mason.

Carly Turner earned the victory on the mound, striking out nine, and drove in the first run of the game for Kenton Ridge in the fourth. Her double scored Lexee Trainer.

Paige Williams added an RBI single in the fourth. Then a squeeze bunt by Maddy Hall scored a third run. Trainer made it 4-0 with an RBI single in the fifth. Jordan Rucker drove in two runs with a triple in the sixth.

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Schwarber, Cubs hammer Reds, win series

Published: Sunday, May 20, 2018 @ 5:08 PM

CINCINNATI, OH - MAY 20: Tyler Mahle #30 of the Cincinnati Reds pitches in the second inning against the Chicago Cubs at Great American Ball Park on May 20, 2018 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins
CINCINNATI, OH - MAY 20: Tyler Mahle #30 of the Cincinnati Reds pitches in the second inning against the Chicago Cubs at Great American Ball Park on May 20, 2018 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)(Joe Robbins)

Yu Darvish recovered from a shaky start to earn his first win with the Cubs, and Kyle Schwarber hit one of Chicago’s three home runs Sunday in a 6-1 victory over the Cincinnati Reds.

Schwarber, a Middletown native, launched a two-run drive, and Javier Baez and Ben Zobrist each had a solo shot to help the Cubs take three of four in the series. Darvish (1-3) went six innings and allowed only two hits, both in the first, during his eighth start since signing a $126 million, six-year contract with Chicago last offseason.

»RELATED: Reds have played winning baseball since 3-18 start

»RELATED: Prospect to resume baseball activity

»RELATED: Votto weighs in on Reds’ historically bad start

In his second outing since coming off the disabled list Tuesday, the four-time All-Star overcame a 39-pitch first inning and finished six for the third time this season. He allowed one run with three walks and seven strikeouts.

Tyler Mahle gave up all three Chicago long balls, passing Homer Bailey for the team lead in homers allowed with 13. The Cubs reached Mahle (3-6) for seven hits, two walks and four runs. He struck out six.

Chicago outscored the Reds 16-1 over the final two games of the series while completing a 4-2 road trip. The Reds are 2-5 since sweeping the Dodgers in a four-game series at Los Angeles for the first time since August 1976.

The Reds scored their only run on Scott Schebler’s bases-loaded infield single with two outs in the first. Cubs shortstop Addison Russell went deep into the hole to backhand the ball, but he couldn’t hang onto it. Darvish retired the following eight batters and nine of the next 10.

Schwarber gave the Cubs a 2-1 lead in the second with his first home run since April 26. Baez, who went into the game leading the National League with 37 RBIs, followed with his first since May 7.

Zobrist led off the fifth with his second homer of the season and first since April 8. The Cubs capitalized on first baseman Joey Votto’s throwing error to add two unearned runs in the seventh.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Right-hander Michael Lorenzen (right shoulder strain) was scheduled to throw two innings of relief in his third rehab appearance for Double-A Pensacola.

UP NEXT

Right-hander Matt Harvey (0-2) makes his home debut for Cincinnati in Tuesday’s series opener against Pittsburgh.

TUESDAY’S GAME

Pirates at Reds, 7:10 p.m., FS Ohio, 700, 1410

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NBA Hall of Famer Bill Russell released from hospital

Published: Sunday, May 20, 2018 @ 11:56 AM

Hall of Famer Bill Russell led the Boston Celtics to 11 NBA titles.
Mike Lawrie/Getty Images
Hall of Famer Bill Russell led the Boston Celtics to 11 NBA titles.(Mike Lawrie/Getty Images)

Basketball Hall of Famer Bill Russell confirmed on Twitter he was released after an overnight stay in the hospital for dehydration.

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According to TMZ, the 84-year-old Boston Celtics great was taken by ambulance from his Seattle-area home to a nearby hospital Friday night. 

Russell tweeted Saturday that he was doing all right, writing that “Yes, I was taken to the hospital last night and as my wife likes to remind me I don’t drink enough.”

Russell also dismissed earlier reports by TMZ about being admitted to the hospital because of heart problems, tweeting “As most of my friends know, I don’t have a heart to give me trouble.”

Russell later posted a tweet that included a photo of him holding a glass of water


The Celtics legend was also hospitalized in 2014 after collapsing at a speaking engagement.

Russell made it home in time Saturday to watch the Celtics lose 116-86 to the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 3 of the NBA Eastern Conference Finals. The Celtics lead the series 2-1.

Celtics coach Brad Stevens told ESPN that he was relieved to hear that Russell was all right.

"Yeah, that was obviously scary news, and happy to hear that he's doing better and he's been released from the hospital,'' Stevens said in Cleveland before Game 3. "He's the ultimate basketball winner. The way he impacted winning, the unselfishness of a teammate, what he stood for off the floor -- everything about him.” 

Russell won 11 titles with the Celtics and was named the NBA’s most valuable player five times. He was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1975.

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