LIMA — It was a game the Lima Locos didn’t have to win.
They were going to be the No. 4 seed in the Great Lakes Collegiate League players no matter what the outcome was on Sunday.
But the Locos went out and notched the victory before a big crowd.
Lima Central Catholic grad Travis Clark pitched four solid innings in a 2-1 victory over Grand Lake in the regular-season finale at Simmons Field.
The Locos finished the year 22-16 and riding a three-game winning streak. The Locos, the No. 4 seed, will meet No. 5 seed Dayton in a one-game quarterfinal playoff game at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Simmons Field.
The Lima-Dayton winner advances to the best-of-three semifinals against No. 1 seed Southern Ohio.
“If we come ready to play and we play well, I think we have a chance of winning it all,” Locos coach Chad Ehrnsberger said. “If we come out and play like we have in some games, we’re going to struggle.”
Ehrnsberger wouldn’t say who would be his starter on Tuesday against Dayton.
The Locos finished the year with a 1-4 record against Grand Lake.
Grand Lake (20-20) is the No. 6 seed and will travel to No. 3 seed Licking County on Tueday in the one-game playoff.
Grand Lake coach Cody Castle used five pitchers, including closer Geradro Dudamel for one out. If Grand Lake would have won Sunday, it would have been the No. 5 seed.
“We wanted to get everyone out there and give everyone a couple of at-bats and out on the mound, just to make sure everyone is fresh going into the playoffs,” Castle said. “We wanted to win this game. … We had some opportunities, offensively, to score some runs, but couldn’t capitalize.”
Grand Lake outhit the Locos 7-5, but Grand Lake left 10 on base.
All the runs were scored in the first. Grand Lake’s Daniel Seeba singled, stole second and came home on an RBI double by Tyler Gray to make it 1-0.
The Locos scored two in the home first. Matt Furuto was hit by a pitch and scored on an RBI double by Mackenzie Hampshire to tie it at 1. Jose Cruz’s RBI groundout to third scored Hampshire to make it 2-1.
“The biggest thing today is we were loose,” Ehrnsberger said. “Everybody was having fun. That’s the kind of attitude I want going into the playoffs.”
It was Clark’s second start for the Locos after he joined the team July 21. Clark made his first appearance on the mound since April on July 21 against Licking County and went four innings, giving up nine hits, nine runs, eight earned.
This time around was much different for the Bluffton right-hander Clark went four innings, giving up one run on four hits. He struck out three and walked one. Clark threw 74 pitches, 41 for strikes.
“I threw less fastballs and I spotted them in better places,” Clark said of his second outing. “I didn’t leave a lot of pitches over the middle and kept the ball low. My slider was working a lot better. Mostly I was throwing slider, change-up fastball.”
Ruben Medina (2-1) picked up the win with two shutout, one-hit innings. Tyler Miler and Keaton Baker followed with one shutout inning each.
Aron McRee picked up his second save in the ninth. He gave up a one-out double to P.J Nowak, then walked Conner Schomig. McRee then got Seeba to ground into a pitcher-to-second-to-first double play to end it.
“The bullpen’s been good for me all year and they continued it today and hopefully they continue it for a while,” Ehrnsberger said.
Locos left fielder Tyler Grogg finished the season with a GLCL record 41 stolen bases. Grogg went 2 for 2 with a stolen base.
“My goal was to get 40 when I came in,” Grogg said. “I’m going to try to get as many as I can in the playoffs.”
Locos beat Mariners