LIMA — Both pitchers were doing exactly what they needed to do.
In the first game of Friday’s doubleheader between the Lima Locos and Licking County Settlers, neither team could time up the opposing pitcher.
That is, until Josh DeBacker (Wichita State) came in to pinch hit in the bottom of the seventh inning for the Locos. With it being a doubleheader, both games were scheduled for seven innings, instead of the normal nine frames.
In the seventh, DeBacker lined a 1-2 offering from Licking County pitcher Johnny Putnam down the left-field line for a walk-off RBI single, driving in J.T. Thomas, and giving the Locos a thrilling 1-0 victory over the Settlers at Simmons Field.
In the second game of Friday’s twin bill, the Locos (23-6) pulled out another close win, 4-3.
Up to the seventh inning in the first game, the Locos had mustered just three base hits off Putnam. Putnam struck out four, walked three and threw a total of 102 pitches in his complete-game effort.
“I was just trying to get my timing down, especially (being) on deck,” DeBacker said about his game-winning hit. “I got called (to pinch-hit) late. So, I was just looking to get my timing down, obviously looking for a fast ball to drive. After that first pitch, I knew exactly what I was looking for. So, I’m just happy he came with more fast balls. It was a good at bat.”
Locos’ Chase Burks pitched a gem in the opener. The right-hander from Mercer University, allowed just one hit, while striking out nine and walking just one. Burks threw a total of 90 pitches.
The lone hit by the Settlers came in the top of the third, a single to right center by Nick Vaage. After that hit, Burks retired the next 15 batters.
“The first inning, I felt like it was going to be one of those games where I would have to grind it out,” Burks said. “There were a couple things that didn’t go my way. That double play was huge to get me out of that inning. I was probably up there around twenty-some pitches. There were a couple timely plays and some good pitches that got me to the seventh.”
Locos 4, Settlers 3
The Locos pounded seven hits in the nightcap, en route to the one-run win.
Former Bath standout and now University of Findlay pitcher Colin Gossard got the starting nod for the Locos. Gossard pitched just three innings before being lifted for Isaac Olson (Univ. of Cincinnati). Gossard was tabbed for one run (unearned) on five hits, while striking out one. He threw 48 pitches, 37 for strikes.
In the top of the fourth, Joe Taylor (Kennesaw State) took over pitching duties for the Locos. Olson gave up one hit, while striking out one in his one inning of work.
Taylor pitched 1 2/3 innings before being lifted. Taylor walked one, struck out one and did not allow a hit. Chandler Stillings (Findlay High School/Bowling Green State University) came in to pitch in the sixth for the Locos. In the seventh, Taylor Wilkes (Kennesaw State) came in to close out the game for Lima.
After getting down 1-0 in the second inning, the Locos took the lead 2-1 on a single by Terence Norman (Kennesaw State) that drove in two runs.
In the fourth, Licking County tied the game at 2 apiece, thanks to a throwing error in the Locos’ infield.
In the second game, the Locos committed six errors.
In the fifth, the Locos plated two runs on four hits, en route to claiming a 4-2 lead. Will Kilgore (Georgia State) had an RBI single, while teammate DeBacker had a sacrifice fly to left that plated the other run for the Locos.
The Settlers added a run in the top of the sixth, cutting the Locos lead to one run.
The Locos are in first place in the Central Division of the Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League.
“Defensively, we were not sound tonight, by any stretch of the imagination,” Locos manager Brian Garman said. “But, we find a way to win a game. So, I’m pretty proud of the way the guys responded to the mistakes, but the mistakes need to be minimized for sure.”
The Lima News sports department can be reached at 567-242-0451.