LIMA — It all broke right for the Lima Locos on Sunday.
The Locos swept a doubleheader against the Lake Erie Monarchs – 8-1 and 5-4 – and in the process clinched the top seed in the upcoming Great Lakes Summer Collegiate league playoffs.
The Locos are 27-7 and 3.5 games ahead of the Hamilton Joes (24-11), who had Sunday’s game rained out then canceled a doubleheader scheduled for today, ending their regular season at 35 games.
It’s the second straight season the Locos have claimed the regular season title. Lima will begin a best-of-three tournament opening series at Simmons Field on Thursday and Friday against an opponent to be determined by Wednesday’s play-in games.
“Obviously that was one of our goals at the beginning of the season,” Locos coach Chad Ehrnsberger said. “But we haven’t won anything yet, you don’t get a ring for just winning the regular season. We’ve put ourselves in a great position but we have to go out and keep playing hard and doing what we’ve been doing.”
In the nightcap, the Locos trailed 4-3 in the bottom of the seventh inning until Grant Williams turned the game for good by blasting a two-run home run to right field. It was the first home run of the season for the team’s leadoff batter.
“I don’t think I’ve seen Grant hit a home run even in batting practice,” Ehrnsberger said. “He got all of that one. It was fun to see, him sprinting around the bases, he was all smiles all the time.”
Closer Seth Kinker then took the mound for Lima and allowed just one hit in the next two innings for the save. Andrew Faintich pitched a perfect seventh and got the win.
The Locos also trailed early, 2-0, until scoring three runs in the fifth. Tyler Beckwith hit a two-run triple to right then scored when Williams singled. Henry Rowling got that inning going with a double.
In the first game, a seven-inning contest, Colin Gossard pitched a gem and Lima bashed three home runs. Gossard (Lima/University of Findlay) pitched a complete game, allowing one run on six hits while striking out two for his first win of the season (1-0).
“He’s gotten better all summer,” Ehrnsberger said. “His last three, four, five outings have been great. A complete game, one run, you can’t ask for more than that. I was really happy to see it, he’s always had it in him.”
He got plenty of help from the offense. Hunter Williams provided the big fireworks with a grand slam in the fifth inning. Cole Gordon and Kyle London each slammed a solo homer. Beckwith tripled and went 2-for-3 while London was 3-for-4 with two RBIs and a run scored. Williams was 2-for-4.
The Locos will play host to the Cincinnati Steam at 7 tonight to end the regular season. Lima originally was going to play Tuesday but that game was canceled.
The Lima News sports department can be reached at 567-242-0451.