LIMA – Locos right-hander Luke Crumley (Georgia) entered Wednesday’s game with a 3-0 mark and a 1.35 ERA.
But it was Licking County starter Michael Stafford (Liberty) who was the one who dominated.
Stafford threw 5 1/3 shutout innings in a 6-3 victory over the Locos Wednesday at Simmons Field.
The Locos are 10-10. Licking County is 9-8. The Locos are 0-4 against Licking County this year. The two teams end their three-game series tonight at 7 p.m. Lima.
The Locos scored three in the home ninth to get within 6-3. Matt Furuto had a pinch-hit RBI double and the Locos also took advantage of Licking County relievers walking two and hitting two batters in the ninth.
Stafford (1-1) struck out nine and walked one over his 5 1/3 innings of work. He gave up four hits. Stafford, in using a moving fastball, breaking ball and change-up, threw 81 pitches, 55 for strikes.
“I was really feeling it today and my fastball was popping in there pretty good,” Stafford said. “My change and curveball were working nice.”
Added Licking County coach Andy Revell, “He really located today. He’s been good for us all summer long but today he had command of all his pitches.”
Licking County scored one in the third, two in the fourth and three in the sixth to pull out to a 6-0 lead. That was it for Lima until the three-run ninth, which came up short.
“When the chips are down and we need a spark, we have it,” Locos coach Chad Ehrnsberger said. “For some reason, they wait so long for it to happen. For the life of me I don’t know how to get it out of it sooner.
“We got a good start out of Luke, but made some errors and gave up some more unearned runs. Offensively, there’s no spark, there’s no desire, there’s no grit. Hopefully, that comes. It’s a long summer. Hopefully, they’ll snap out of it and play up to their potential.”
Licking County scored a run in the third with the help of three Locos’ errors in the inning. Nick Paxton’s RBI single to short scored Brady Hamilton, who reached on an error. That gave the Settlers a 1-0 lead.
The Settlers’ third inning ended on a center-to-home double play. Aaron Lindgren flew out to Locos center fielder Kyle Lewis medium-depth center. Lewis fired a laser, no-hop throw to catcher Mason George who slapped the tag on Joel Murphy for a double play.
Licking County pushed its lead to 3-0 in the fourth on a two-run single to left by Murphy.
Licking County pushed its lead to 6-0 with a three-run sixth. Murphy had an RBI bunt single. Paxton had an RBI groundout to first. Kolin McMillen, who came in hitting .448, added an RBI single to right to make it 6-0.
Crumley went 5 1/3 innings and gave up six runs, five earned, on seven hits. He struck out four and walked three. Crumley threw 95 pitches, 58 for strikes.
Locos notes: Locos infielder Matt Spruill (Mississippi State) is the brother of Arizona Diamondbacks 6-foot-5 right-hander Zeke Spruill. In two games, one start, the 24-year-old Spruill is 0-1 with a 4.82 for the Diamondbacks this year. He made his major league debut on June 21 last year against the Reds. Matt Spruill is from Burke, Va., while Zeke was born in Chesapeake, Va.
Through Tuesday, Locos catcher/designated hitter Daniel Garner (Mississippi State) leads the GLCL in home runs (5) and RBIs (18).
Locos infielder Brett Carlson (Purdue) is fourth in the league in hitting at .362.
Cory Wilder (N.C. State/Shawnee) leads the league in strikeouts (26).
The Locos are at home today (Licking County), Friday (Xenia) and Saturday (Xenia). Friday’s game time has been pushed up to 6 p.m. The fireworks show will follow at Faurot Park.