By HAL McCOY
On a Buckeye Charter Bus somewhere in the desolation of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia, where cellphones don’t work (Is this where they filmed Deliverance?).
Am spending the weekend with the University of Dayton baseball team in Cary, N.C., not far enough south for baseball weather, but eager to hear the sound of aluminum bats (hate that sound, go back to wood) after 9 1/2 hours on a bus.
This is the Flyers third trip to Carolinas after weekend stops in Greenville, S.C. and Spartanburg, S.C. and tehey are 2-4 when they play Friday against University of Massachusetts-Lowell on Friday, with a game Saturday against William & Mary and a game Sunday against Maryland — all three at the USA Baseball National Training Complex.
Meanwhile, the Cincinnati Reds removed themselves from among the winless Thursday afternoon, finally winning a spring exhibition game after losing their first six.
And they they didn’t do it against another team trying to rebuild from ground zero, they did it against the World Series champion Chicago Cubs. The Cubs sent a split squad team to Goodyear, Ariz., but most of the regulars, other than the pitching staff, were on their bus.
The Reds won with superb shutout pitching for six innings against a strong Cubs batting order that featured Jason Heyward (0 for 3), Kris Bryant (0 for 2), Ben Zobrist (0 for 2), Addison Russell (1 for 2) and Jon Jay (0 for 2).
Making the day miserable for the Cubbies during the Reds 6-2 victory were pitchers Amir Garrett, Tony Cingrani and Michael Lorenzen — six scoreless innnings.
Garrett, the former St. John’s University basketball player who chose baseball over double dribbling, looks as if he made the right decidsion. For the second straight outing Garrett did not give up a run.
He pitched two scoreless innings in his previous start and the 6-foot-5, 210-pound (built for basketball) righthander pitched three scoreless this time — no runs, one hit, no walks and two strikeouts.
So far he is making a slam dunk approach toward winning one of the two or three available spots in the starting rotation. He split time last year between Class AA and Class AAA and was 7-and-8 with a 2.55 ERA. He was 5-and-3 with a 1.75 ERA at Pensacola and 2-and-5 with a 3.46 ERA at Class AAA Louisville.
After Garrett did his duty, lefthander Tony Cingrani pitched an inning and walked two, but didn’t give up a run or a hit. Then it was bullpenner Michael Lorenzeon’s turen and he turned in two nearly perfect innings — no runs, no hits, one walk.
The only pitching blip for the day came from Luis Castillo, who turned a 4-0 lead into a 4-2 lead in the seventh by giving up two runs, three hits and a walk in one inning.
Before Castillo, the Garrett-Cingrani-Lorenzen triumverate gave up one run over six innings.
Offensively, manager Bryan Price put Billy Hamilton and Jose Peraza at the one-two spots in the batting order and it worked. Hamilton had a single and scored a run. The scorching Peraza had two more hits and drove in two and is hitting .583 this spring.
The Reds unleashed 11 hits and scored in the third, fourth, sixth and eighth innings.
Catcher Stuart Turner and Hamilton singled in the third inning and with two outs Peraza tripled to left field for two runs.
Adam Duvall led the fourth inning when he was hit by a pitch and came around to score on a ground ball and Hernan Iribarren’s two-out single to make it 3-0.
Patrick Kivlehan reached bases with two outs on the sixth on a error and scored on a single by Desmond Jenninings and it was 4-0.
The Cubs scored two off Castillo in the seventh but the Reds retrieved those two eruns in the eighth. Tony Renda singled to open the inning and took third on a wild pitch. Chad Wallach doubled Renda home and Wallach scored on Patrick Kivlehan’s double.
On a bright not for the Reds, the first four runs all scored with two outs and five of their six runs for the game scored with two outs.