LIMA — Missing the target doomed the Lima Locos in Thursday’s season opener.
An errant throw to third in the eighth and two bases-loaded walks in the 10th helped Lake Erie beat Lima 5-3 at Simmons Field in the Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League game.
Things looked good for the Locos through seven innings as they led 3-1 on the strength of two home runs and some impressive pitching.
But in the top of the eighth, Lake Erie struck back, scoring twice to knot the game at 3-3. With one out and the bases loaded, Kyle Fiala drove in Ross Haffey with a single off Locos’ pitcher Ben Hudspeth (Mississippi St./Tupelo, Miss.).
With the bases still loaded, Hunspeth then struck out Beau Filkens for the second out, but following the strikeout Locos’ catcher Skyler Webber threw to third to try to get J.J. Reimer out. However, the low throw caused the ball to go into left field, allowing Reimer to score the tying run and ultimately force extra innings with the game tied at 3-3.
Two innings later, Lake Erie got its first lead at 4-3 in the top of the 10th when J.P. Maraconi worked a two-out, bases loaded walk off Locos’ pitcher Quincy Clements (Hill JC/Omaha, Texas). Dan Rowbottom followed with another walk off Clements to put the Monarchs up 5-3. In the bottom of the 10th, the Locos put two runners on with one out, but a double play ended the game.
“We have a great pitching staff but we ran into some walks and some errors and when that happens you’ll give up some runs,” Lima Locos coach Chad Ehrnsberger said. “Offensively, we got a little complacent. Overall we had some good at-bats but it felt like we had a sense that we had enough runs and the urgency to score went away.”
The Locos finished with nine hits but only two in the final three innings.
Locos’ centerfielder Kyle Lewis (Mercer/Snellville, Ga.) started the night’s scoring when he bashed a two-run home run to left-center field with one out in the fourth inning. Lewis’ blast brought in Dylan Ingram (Mississippi St./Pike Road, Ala.), who walked and went to second on a wild pitch.
Daniel Garner (Mississippi St.) then put the Locos up 3-1 when he smashed a solo home run in the seventh inning. Garner was pinch-hitting in the inning after he drove 11 hours to be at the game Thursday.
Shawnee High School product Cory Wilder (N.C. State) started the game and looked strong in his Locos’ pitching debut. He went five innings, allowed no runs, three walks, three hits and struck out seven batters. Wilder regularly hit in the 90s on the radar gun, topping out at 95 in the first inning.
In the five innings, Lake Erie stranded six batters and had runners reach third base twice, but in both cases Wilder struck out the final batter to get out of the inning.
“Cory did what we knew he would,” Ehrnsberger said. “He had a rough first inning but a lot of that was nerves being a Lima kid, but he settled down nice. We only took him out because of the pitch count.”
Following Wilder’s departure, the Locos used four other pitchers with another Shawnee product, Tyler Anderson (Bowling Green) taking the loss after pitching 1 2/3 innings.
“It was great to get out here again,” Ehrnsberger said. “It’s unfortunate we lost, but we had a good crowd and I’m still confident in this team. I think we’ll bounce back tomorrow (at Lake Erie).”
Lake Erie 5, Lima 3
WP: Brian Ghiselli. LP: Tyler Anderson. HR: Kyle Lewis, Daniel Garner (Lima). 2B: Caleb Stayton (LE). Records: Lake Erie 1-0; Lima Locos 0-1.