LIMA – The Lima Locos make most games very interesting at the end.
But once again, they find ways to win.
Erich Stahl came in and struck out the final two batters with the bases loaded to help the Locos hold on to a 10-7 victory over the Cincinnati Steam Sunday at Simmons Field.
Stahl came in with a 10-6 lead, one out and the bases loaded in the ninth. After he walked the first batter to make it 10-7, he used his fastball to blow away Brad Burkhart and Anthony Asalon on strikeouts.
“After that first batter, I started finding the zone and saw the swings they were taking and threw fastballs,” Stahl said.
The Locos are 23-11. Cincinnati is 19-17. The first-place Locos are 3 ½ games in front of second-place Southern Ohio.
The Locos’ magic number is four. Any combination of Locos’ wins and Southern Ohio losses which adds up to five will give the Locos the regular-season championship of the Great Lakes Collegiate League.
The Locos have won four in a row and are 13-1 since posting a 10-10 record at the halfway point.
“We’ve been streaky all summer, but today was one of those days where we came out hit the ball and hopefully it continues,” Locos coach Chad Ehrnsberger said.
“I think this streak has been a mindset. Any time you go to a new team I think you try to do more than you’re capable of and guys we’re trying to show how good they were and I think we saw the results of that, we were 10-10. Now guys are more relaxed and more comfortable and know their roles on the team. Guys now expect to win the game instead of hoping to win.”
The Locos scored three in the first to take a 3-0 lead.
Daniel Garner hit a two-out double to right-center field. Dylan Ingram followed with an RBI single to center to make it 1-0. After a Brett Carlson double, Chase Puente lined a two-run double to the left-center field fence. That pushed the Locos lead to 3-0.
Matt Furuto had an RBI groundout in the second to make it 4-0.
The Locos added three more in the home third to expand their lead to 7-0.
Ingram, who hit the game-winning home run in the 17th inning on Saturday, launched a solo home run well over the left-field fence to give the Locos a 5-0 lead in the home third.
“I got in a groove a little bit last night and hit the ball over the fence (Saturday), then it just rolled over today,” Ingram said. “I’m seeing the ball well, putting good swings on it and I like my approach right now.”
Jonathan Herkins tacked on an RBI double in the third and it was 6-0. Furuto had another RBI groundout and it was 7-0.
Brian Bruening hit a solo home run in the fourth to bring the Steam within 7-1.
Furuto added his third RBI of the game on an RBI single in the fifth to give the Locos an 8-1 lead.
Cincinnati battled back and scored five in the top of the sixth to get within 8-6. Locos starter Cory Wilder battled his control in the sixth and walked in two runs. He went 5 1/3 innings and gave up six runs, all earned, on four hits. He struck out five and walked six.
The Locos made it 10-6 with two unearned runs thanks to back-to-back Steam errors in the eighth.
For the Locos, Garner was 2 for 5, Carlson was 3 for 5 and Puente was 2 for 5 with two RBIs. Herkins and Jalen Washington had two hits.
Locos notes: The Locos’ 5-1 win in 17 innings at Grand Lake on Saturday is the team’s longest-inning game since 1993 when The Lima News began keeping game-by-game statistics. The Locos have played a 15-inning game in each of the last four seasons.
Locos first baseman Dylan Ingram (Mississippi State) hit a three-run home run in the top of the 17th to give the Locos a 4-1 lead. Matt Furuto added an RBI single to make it 5-1. Ingram leads the Great Lakes Collegiate League with 29 RBIs.
James Naile (Alabama-Birmingham) picked up the victory with three shutout innings, giving up one hit and striking out three. He also had a leadoff double in the 17th and scored on Ingram’s home run.
Dan Sexton (Tiffin) started the game for the Locos and went 9 2/3 innings and gave up one run on six hits. He struck out four and walked one.
Locos center fielder Kyle Lewis jammed his knee sliding into second at Grand Lake on Saturday. He didn’t play on Sunday.
The Locos are at Cincinnati at 7 p.m. tonight and at Hamilton on Tuesday. The Locos return home at 7 p.m. Wednesday against Hamilton.