ELIDA – Lima Central Catholic’s Colin Stolly hasn’t pitched a great deal in the past couple of weeks.
However, in Saturday’s ACME baseball district tournament game at Elida’s Ed Sandy Field, Stolly didn’t exhibit much rust as he tossed a 4-hitter to lead LCC to a 4-2 victory over Findlay in the losers’ bracket of the double-elimination tournament.
With the win, LCC (11-10) will face Shawnee (15-4) today at 1 p.m. at Ed Sandy Field. Both teams need a win in order to stay alive in the tournament.
The winner of today’s LCC-Shawnee game will face Bath (11-3) in Sunday’s second game at approximately 3:30 p.m.
Bath, who does not have a loss in the tournament, would have to lose twice to be eliminated. If Bath loses today, the second game will be played Monday at 6 p.m. at Elida. The winner of the championship game will advance to the State ACME Tournament, which will be held at Coldwater July 20-27.
On Saturday, Stolly struck out seven, walked one and hit a batter in his seven innings of work. He struck out six of the final seven batters he faced. For the game, he threw a total of 120 pitches.
“I felt really good today,” Stolly said. “I haven’t pitched for a week and a half. The warm weather really helped out. I thought I was throwing pretty hard.
“Last night (in a win over Elida), I threw one inning to close it out. And I thought today that I could come in and throw well, too. I don’t know why, but I always feel like I feel stronger and throw harder, late in the game. It’s like I build up as the game goes on.”
Stolly splits playing time with LCC’s ACME and Lima Legion. Fortunately for LCC, the Lima Legion squad was unable to play in a tournament this weekend because of the inclement weather, giving Stolly the opportunity to pitch on Saturday.
“He stepped up with the Legion game being cancelled. …That helped us big-time, because we were getting low on pitchers from all the rain (game postponements),” LCC coach Brian Gephart said. “He stepped up and threw seven innings for us and threw very well. We also played some good defense behind him.”
After Findlay (6-8) took a 1-0 lead in the top of the third, LCC responded in the home half of the third, scoring three runs on four base hits off Findlay starting pitcher Desmond Leno. Stolly helped his own cause by hitting a single that drove in a run. Jacob Judy had a single and Drew Jennings (3 for 4) had a double for LCC to start the third-inning rally. Liam Stolly (2 for 4) also had an RBI single for the Thunderbirds.
LCC added another run, in the fourth. With bases loaded, Findlay reliever Devon Stewart hit Brad Stolly with a pitch to plate a run.
For the game, LCC recorded eight hits.
“It was nice to get the lead for him,” Gephart said. “We’re hitting the ball well. So, hopefully we can continue that tomorrow and come back and get another win.”
Gephart said Stolly’s strong performance now allows him some flexibility with his pitching staff.
“We did have our pitching ready if Colin wasn’t able to be here. Trevor Hoff could throw for us. But now, we got him (Hoff) for tomorrow. With Colin stepping in today, that helped us tremendously.”