LIMA — Ben Stolly thought it was gone.
Tom Judy wasn’t sure.
Stolly and Judy both homered for Lima Central Catholic in the fifth inning to lead the T-Birds to a six-inning, run-rule 14-4 baseball victory over Kalida Tuesday at LCC’s Players Field.
LCC (8-5) entered the home fifth leading 7-4. Stolly jumped on a 3-0 pitch and launched it over the left-field fence for a two-run home run to make it 9-4. It was his second home run of the year.
“That’s probably the hardest ball I’ve ever hit,” Stolly said. “Yeah, I knew (it was gone).”
Two batters later, Judy hit a missile shot well over the right-center field fence to push the LCC lead to 10-4. The senior didn’t play last year because of a concussion.
Again, the home run came on a 3-0 pitch.
“I was expecting him not to give me the green light,” Judy said. “But he didn’t give me a sign and I did what I did. It actually didn’t (feel like it was gone). … That’s my first home run, ever.”
LCC coach John Schnieders said, “I was thinking let’s treat 3-0 like 2-0 and see if he (Stolly) can get a good pitch. He put a good swing on it. Normally, we take on 3-0, but it was a situation where we were pretty confident we’d get a fastball in the zone.
“Tom (Judy) came to work in the winter did some work in the open gyms and we like what he can do for us, offensively. He’s aggressive and everything he seems to hit is hard.”
On the day, Judy went 3 for 4 with a home run and three RBIs. Connor Dee went 2 for 4 with a double and three RBIs.
LCC center fielder Sam Huffman went 2 for 3 with a triple and was hit by a pitch for the 12th time this year. The state record for hit by pitch in a season is 23, set by Delta’s Nico Arredondo in 2012.
“It’s kind of weird,” Huffman said. “I don’t think I’m leaning in. My whole high school career I’ve been getting hit, but this year I got hit twice in our first game of the year and it just kept building and building. Now it’s up to 12. (Friday) At Richmond, I got hit in my first three at-bats.”
Huffman also threw out a runner at the plate trying to score from second on a single to center in the sixth inning. He threw a strike to catcher Connor Dee, who blocked off the plate and put the tag on Neil Recker.
LCC right-hander Nick Watkins (2-2) earned the win. He went four innings and gave up one run, unearned, on five hits. He struck out one and walked none. He was lifted after 46 pitches, 31 strikes, because he’s scheduled to throw against Delphos Jefferson on Saturday.
LCC held a 2-1 lead until the home fourth when it scored five to push out to a 7-1 lead. Kalida scored three in the fifth to get within 7-4.
Kalida stands 2-6 after graduating 14 seniors, including standout pitcher Paul Utendorf.
“That’s the way it’s been breaking for Kalida baseball this year,” Kalida coach Jim McBride said. “With a young team, you’ll have inconsistency and that’s what we’ve got. Tonight we didn’t get the good pitching when we needed it.
“But I want to play teams like this because it shows me what kind of character I’ve got. A lot of teams would have laid down and taken it, but we battled back and got it to 7-4.”
For Kalida, Brent Hovest went 3 for 4. Trent Gerding went 2 for 3 with two RBIs.
Schnieders was not pleased with his team making four errors and giving up four unearned runs.
“Pitching and defense, that was our recipe last year (to get to state),” Schnieders said. “We can’t go out and make four errors and give up four unearned runs and think that we’re going to win our league or win win in the sectionals. The teams we play are too good.”
Lima Central Catholic's catcher Connor Dee