LIMA — For seven innings, it was a pitching battle.
The Locos’ Tyler Miller and Grand Lake’s Damian Helm were making it tough on opposing batters.
Then, the Locos’ offense bulldozed its way onto center stage.
The Locos scored seven runs in the home eighth inning to break up a 2-2 tie and post a 9-2 victory over Grand Lake Friday.
The Locos (13-6) are now 1-2 against Grand Lake (13-9) this season.
“It feels great,” Locos catcher Michael Emodi said. “They’ve had our number the last two games.”
After the Locos led 2-0 after seven, Grand Lake scored two in the top of the eighth to tie the game at 2.
Then, to start the home eighth, Grand Lake reliever Austin Rodesky walked three straight batters.
With one out, Hunter Williams (Tulane) hit an 0-2 pitch to second, which Grand Lake second baseman Colton Bradley couldn’t handle for an error. Two runs scored and the Locos took the lead to stay, 4-2.
“Hunter Williams was down 0-2 and the guy made a tough pitch on him and he put it in play,” Locos manager Chad Ehrnsberger said. “That’s something that hitters need to do. He hit an 0-2 curveball and it opened the door and put the pressure on them.”
Luke Reynolds’ (Mississippi State) RBI squeeze bunt made it 5-2 in the eighth.
Then, came the big blow, when Locos catcher Michael Emodi (Creighton) launched a mammoth three-run home run to dead center to give the Locos an 8-2 lead in the eighth.
“It felt good,” Emodi said. “It was a fastball down the middle.”
Ehrnsberger said, “We’ve been doing it (coming back) all year. It’s a good quality to have.”
The lefty Helm (Crestview HS/Indiana-Purdue/Fort Wayne) threw his variety of off-speed pitches and went seven innings, giving up two runs, both earned, on 10 hits. He struck out three and walked none.
Locos starter Miller (Northern Kentucky) threw seven shutout innings, giving up three hits. He struck out two and walked one. Miller threw 88 pitches, 59 for strikes.
Miller, who pitched for the Locos in 2013, joined the team in mid-June.
“I was in New Hampshire hiking when I got the call from Chad (Ehrnsberger),” Miller said. “He asked if I was playing summer ball and originally my coach (at NKU) didn’t want me to because he thought I was going to pitch too many innings.”
Ehrnsberger said, “I tried to get him in the fall when I thought he was available. … Then, I saw he didn’t throw that many innings in the spring and I asked him again and he was more than happy to come here.”
On Friday, Miller pounded the strike zone with his moving fastball. He forced 14 ground-ball outs.
“It’s a two-seam fastball,” Miller said.
The Locos took a 1-0 lead off Grand Lake lefty Helm in the second inning. Hunter Williams singled and stole second. Williams scored on an RBI double down the right-field line by Reynolds (Mississippi State).
In the home sixth, Will Kilgore doubled and went to third on a single by Brett Murray. Hunter Williams’ RBI single to left gave the Locos a 2-0 lead.
For the Locos, Grant Williams went 3 for 4. Hunter Williams was 2 for 4 with two RBI. Reynolds went 2 for 4 with a double and two RBI. Emodi was 2 for 4 with a home run and three RBI. Kyle London (Washington) was 2 for 3 in the 14-hit attack.
Locos notes: Friday’s game was the Locos’ first at home since June 24, a win over Galion. Since then, the Locos have been postponed at home four times. … The Locos will meet Xenia at 7:05 (new time with no fireworks) tonight. … The Locos are second in the league in hitting at .283. The Locos are eighth in pitching with an ERA of 4.96.Reach Tom Usher at [email protected] or on Twitter at @Lima_Usher.