LIMA — Licking County closer Scott Effross got himself into a jam and he knew it.
His wild throw to second base put two Locos on base with one out in the ninth.
Now it was time for Effross to turn to his heater.
Effross (Indiana) got a groundout and a strikeout with his 93 mph fastball to save Licking County’s 1-0 victory over the Lima Locos in Game 1 of the Great Lakes Collegiate League best-of-3 championship series Saturday at Simmons Field.
Game 2 will be at Don Edwards Field at 7 p.m. today at Newark. Licking County is the defending GLCL champion.
With one out in the home ninth, Locos pinch-hitter Alex Liquori reached on an error by the third baseman. Jess Posey then bounced one back to Effross on the mound. He turned and threw wild to second for an error to put runners on first and second.
Shawn Sanders grounded out to put runners at second and third with two out.
Effross then cranked it up and struck Matt Britton out with a 93 mph fastball to end it.
“I got a little bit of the yips right there (with the wild throw) and I really wanted to bounce back and get the last two outs,” Effross said. “I’d say half of it was adrenaline and the other half was wanting to make up for your mistake.”
The only run of the game came in the third inning and it turned out to be an unearned run.
Settlers catcher Woody Wallace doubled down the right-field line. He went to third on a single by David Wolak. Wolak stole second and the throw to second by Locos catcher Casey Schroeder bounced away, which allowed Wallace to come home and make it 1-0.
From there, it was all pitching.
“It’s tough to win when you don’t score and their one run was on an unearned run,” Locos coach Chad Ehrnsberger said. “There’s not a lot you can take from this game other than we gave it away.”
Licking County starter Charles Cooper (Ohio Wesleyan) wasn’t overpowering, but he threw strikes and mixed his pitches. He went 6 2/3 innings and gave up no runs on four hits. He struck out three and walked one. Cooper threw 76 pitches, 46 for strikes.
“He had control of everything and made them swing at his pitch,” Wallace said of Cooper. “He didn’t give in. We were going to change-up more tonight and he was spotting that, which really helps.”
Locos starter Ruben Medina (UNOH) threw five strong innings, giving up one unearned run on six hits. He struck out three and walked one. He threw 72 pitches, 50 for strikes.
Jason Gamble came on and tossed two shutout, one-hit innings. Stephen Glaze tossed the final two innings, giving up no runs and no hits.
“The pitching went exactly to plan,” Ehrnsberger said. “I never thought in a million years we wouldn’t score.”
Both teams won Game 3 on the road to win their semifinal series Friday night. Licking County won at Cincinnati, while the Locos won 4-3 in 14 innings at Athens.
“It’s a grind, but you have to stay focused,” Wallace said. “It doesn’t matter where you’re playing. “
Ehrnsberger wouldn’t make the late-night travel an excuse, as the Locos got home at around 3:30 a.m. Friday morning.
“Travel is not an issue,” Ehrnsberger said. “If travel is an issue than we have a bigger problem than not being able to hit. It’s a three-game championship series. There are no excuses, no travel, no it’s hot, no we had a long game yesterday. None of that flies in a championship series.”
Locos notes: The Locos’ probable starter for Game 2 is Keaton Baker. … Licking finished the regular season 24-16 and is the No. 3 seed. The Locos went 22-16 and are the No. 4 seed. …The Locos went 1-4 against the Settlers during the regular season. … Locos’ top hitters in the semifinal series included Matt Furuto (.462, 2 doubles, 1 triple, 4 RBIs), Matt Britton (.455, 2 RBIs), Jose Cruz (.333) and Casey Schroeder (.308, 2 RBIs). … Aron McRee, the winning pitcher in Game 3, threw six shutout, one-hit innings to close the 14-inning, 4-3 game out. He threw first-pitch strikes to 16 of 20 hitters.
Locos fall to Licking County