LIMA — Home-field advantage through the playoffs.
That’s what the Lima Locos earned as the No. 1 seed for the playoffs with a win Friday.
The Locos scored four in the first and went on to post a 7-1 victory over Richmond at Simmons Field.
The Locos, which snapped their three-game losing streak, had lost to Richmond 7-3 on Thursday at home.
“To come out and beat them the way we beat them tonight, I think it is a statement,” Locos coach Brian Garman said. “But they’re certainly not going to forget that and if we have to play these guys in the postseason, that’s going to be in the forefront of their dugout for sure.
“Winning feels better than losing three in a row. I thought our guys were loose from the get-go.’’
The Locos (28-11) are the Central Division champions and will get a first-round bye in the playoffs. They will play a best-of-three semifinal series starting next Wednesday at home.
Richmond, the Southern Division leader, is 25-15.
“Playing in front of the home crowd (for the playoffs) is awesome,” Locos starter Chase Burks said. “It’s big for us to win this tonight.’’
Josh DeBacker went 2 for 4 with an RBI for the Locos. Jaxxon Fagg was 2 for 4 with a double and an RBI.
Jeddediah Fagg was 2 for 3 with a double, home run and three RBI.
“This is real big (getting the top seed),” Jeddediah Fagg said. “I can’t wait to see how many people we’ll have for the playoffs.’’
Burks (Mercer) was dominate through his seven innings of work. He gave up one run, earned, on five hits. He struck out nine and walked one.
Burks threw 106 pitches, 73 for strikes.
“It’s a lot easier when they (the Locos) throw a four-spot up there,” Burks said. “I let that work to my advantage and let the defense work as much as I can.’’
Burks (5-0) relied on his fastball, breaking ball and a few change-ups.
“The fastball was moving and I could throw it (for strikes) whenever I wanted and curveball I could put away and I threw the change-up to a few lefties.’’
Garman said, “He gave us seven strong and was pretty dominate.’’
Joe Gahm finished off the Jazz by pitching two shutout, no-hit innings to end it.
The Locos came out and posted four runs in the first to jump out to an early lead.
Josh DeBacker had an RBI single to bring home Ross Adolph, who singled, to make it 1-0. Jaxxon Fagg’s RBI double pushed the lead to 2-0.
The Locos made it 3-0 when DeBacker scored on Stephen Dobbs’ grounder to short which the shortstop couldn’t handle.
Jeddediah Fagg’s RBI double made it 4-0 in the first.
“We came out ready to roll,” Garman said. “We were aggressive early in counts. We did a better job of hitting the ball where it was pitched and not try to bang every ball out of the park.’’
The Locos added three runs in the fifth to make it 7-0. DeBacker singled, went to second on a wild pitch and come home on an RBI double by Dobbs to make it 5-0.
Jeddediah Fagg launched a two-run home run to left and it was 7-0.
“That’s what we wanted,” Garman said of earning home field for the playoffs.
Locos notes: The top two teams in each of the three divisions qualify for the Great Lakes Collegiate League playoffs. The Locos won the Central Division and have a first-round bye. They advance to the best-of-three semifinal series. Providing the play-in games are able to be played Tuesday, the Locos will open Game 1 of the semifinal series Wednesday at home at Simmons Field. Game 2 will be on the road, while Game 3 (if necessary) will be played in Lima. The Locos will play one of the best-of-one, play-in game winners.
Will Kilgore (Georgia State) has tied the team record for doubles with 14. Andy Chriscaden (2011) and John LaMar (1991) also had 14 doubles.
Locos right-hander Isaiah Gonzales Montoya (Alabama-Birmingham) went out strong on Thursday in his no-decision effort against Richmond. He threw eight innings, giving up two runs, both earned, on eight hits. He struck out eight and walked one.
Montoya reached his innings limit set by his college coach and is being rested for the remainder of the summer.
“It’s an innings thing,” Locos coach Brian Garman said. “His pitching coach shut him down. He’s got to head home. He met his limit (30 innings). … He missed part of their season with a strained oblique so his volume this spring wasn’t what they hoped it would be. This was kind of their way to ease him back into their fall baseball.’’
In 29 innings, Gonzales Montoya went 1-0 with a 2.45 ERA. He struck out 22 and walked six. He appeared in five games, with four starts.
The Locos rank seventh in the GLCL in hitting at .271. They lead the league in pitching with an ERA of 3.32.
Up next: The Locos finish the regular season at Lorain today and Sunday.
The Lima News sports department can be reached at 567-242-0451.