LIMA — Southern Ohio kept pounding away at the Lima Locos like they were a defenseless pinata.
The Copperheads knocked out 18 hits in a 16-1 victory over the Locos Wednesday in Game 1 of the best-of-3 semifinal series in the Great Lakes Collegiate League playoffs at Simmons Field. Most of the game was played in a misty, annoying rain.
It got to the point where the Copperheads could have scored more runs in the final two innings, but they mercifully decided to play station-to-station baseball on a couple of hits in the gap.
And with the Locos not wanting to completely drain their bullpen, they ended up throwing two position players, Matt Britton and Jess Posey for the final inning.
Southern Ohio leads the series 1-0, with Game 2 set for 7:30 p.m. today at Athens.
It was a completely different game than Tuesday’s 5-3 victory over Dayton in the one-game quarterfinal.
It was easily the Locos’ worst loss of the year and the most runs they had given up this year. The previous high for runs given up this year was 12 against Lake Erie on July 25.
“Quite frankly, it’s embarrassing,” Locos coach Chad Ehrnsberger said. “I certainly wasn’t expecting us to come out like this tonight. It’s embarrassing and hopefully these guys show a little pride tomorrow and come out with the same amount of fight and energy that Southern Ohio had tonight.”
Southern Ohio scored one in the first, two in the third and one in the fourth to grab a 4-0 lead. The Copperheads led 7-0 entering the eighth when they racked up five in the eighth and four more in the ninth.
“This has been plaguing us all summer,” Ehrnsberger said. “Either we come out ready to play or we come out and lay an egg. There’s really no in between with us. We just picked a really, really bad day to lay an egg.”
The Locos managed only three hits and also made three errors to top the night off.
“We have to flush it. Conditions weren’t great today, but you have to come out and expect to play,” Locos catcher Casey Schroeder said. “Things got away early, but it didn’t seem the whole team’s head was in it today. But tomorrow is a new day. Tomorrow hopefully we come out with some good energy and get a ‘W.’ ”
Leading the way for Southern Ohio was left fielder James Coates, who went 4 for 6 with four RBIs. The GLCL Player of the Year Jesse Puscheck (Canisius) went 2 for 7 with two RBIs. Taylor Burch went 2 for 4 with two RBIs. Mark Lumpa went 4 for 5 with two RBIs. Dalton Busby went 3 for 4 with an RBI.
Those offensive fireworks backed a strong outing from right-hander Jackson Sowell (Western Kentucky). He worked seven innings, giving up no runs on two his. He struck out two and walked four. Sowell threw 97 pitches, 52 for strikes.
Locos starter Keaton Baker (Middle Tennessee State) has been pitching very well with a sprained left ankle the last few weeks. In Game 1, Baker never seemed comfortable landing on the wet, slippery mound.
Baker went four innings, giving up four runs, two earned, on five hits. He struck out four and walked three. Baker threw 81 pitches, 49 for strikes.
“It was a tough one out there, but the good thing about baseball is you get to play the next day,” Ehrnsberger said. “We’ll see what we’re made of tomorrow. We’ll see if we’re still down or if we have a fighting chance and go out there and show people that we don’t want our season to end.”
Locos notes: The Locos will start left-hander Travis Bergen (Kennesaw State) today. … Right-hander Jason Gamble was available for duty on Wednesday after being sidelined for the last week with a sore right shoulder.