LIMA — Lima Locos’ Billy Lipari drove a low sinking liner into right-center field.
Joes right fielder R.J. Thompson made an all-out dive for the ball, but just missed it by inches.
When the ball hit the grass, the Locos had a championship.
Lipari ripped an RBI double to right-center field to score Kyle London from second with one out to lift the Locos to a 5-4, walk-off victory over Hamilton in the 10th inning to capture the Great Lakes Collegiate League championship Tuesday before over 1,000 fans at Simmons Field.
“It’s kind of sad that’s it come to end, but it’s the greatest feeling in the world,” Locos third baseman Will Kilgore said.
The Locos, who won their fourth GLCL championship, won the best-of-three Great Lakes Collegiate League championship series, 2-1.
“We came through when we needed it and Billy Lipari, my goodness, that was awesome,” Locos coach Chad Ehrnsberger said. “It almost brought me some tears when Billy got that hit. All these guys worked so hard. I’m just glad to be a part of it.”
With the game tied at 4 in the home 10th, Brett Murray started the inning with a double to left, which bounced past the Hamilton left fielder. London then went in to run for Murray. With one out, Hunter Williams was intentionally walked.
“It went by him and I thought of going to third, but I held up, thankfully,” Murray said. “This is awesome to end like this.”
Lipari jumped on a 2-1 pitch and sent the liner into right-center field for the game-winning hit.
“There was an at-bat earlier in the game (in the sixth) when there was a guy on third with one out and I popped it up to short and I told myself, ‘I’m not going to do it again,’ ” Lipari said. “I wanted to wait back and take it to right field and I did it. … I could have sworn he was going to catch it. I was pretty excited when the ball came out. It was awesome.”
In the top of the 10th, in a 4-4 game, with two out, the Joes’ Andy Young singled. Will Solomon tried to pick him off, but threw wild to first. First baseman Hunter Williams scooped the ball up down the right-field line and threw a strike to third to nail Young for the third out.
“I didn’t have much time to think about it,” Williams said. “I picked it up bare handed and let it rip. … This is what I’ve been looking for all year. We bonded as a team this year.”
In Game 3, the Joes jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first.
The Locos scored two in the home second on a towering two-run home run to right-center field by Williams to give the Locos a 2-1 lead.
Tyler Beckwith hit a line-drive solo home run to center to kick the margin to 3-1 in the third.
Cole Gordon’s RBI single to right gave the Locos a 4-1 lead in the fifth.
The Joes tied the game at 4 with a three-run sixth. Kevin Dupree had an RBI double to get within 4-2. Jake Simmerman followed with a two-run homer to center to tie the game at 4.
Locos starter Michael Bonifay started and went two innings, giving up one run on two hits.
Left-hander Ryan Ruggles came on next and went 2 2/3 innings, giving up no runs on three hits. But Ruggles was forced out of the game after throwing a pitch and motioning to the dugout. He left with an injury.
Seth Kinker came on and gave up three runs on 2/3 of an inning.
On came closer Drew Faintich and he fired 3 2/3 innings of shutout, hitless ball through the ninth.
“I knew were done after this so I went all out,” Faintich said. “I feel like I’m on Cloud 9.”
Will Solomon threw a shutout 10th to post the win.
“That was part of the plan. We wanted to keep mixing it up (with pitchers),” Ehrnsberger said. “If we have that many pitchers available, I’m going to use them. I wanted to keep Hamilton on their toes.”
For the Locos, Kilgore went 2 for 4. Carriger went 2 for 4. Murray went 2 for 5. League MVP Andy Young went 4 for 5 for the Joes.
Joes 7, Locos 1
In the first game of the day, Game 2 of the series, Joes lefty Alex Schraffenberger used his variety of off-speed pitches to set the Locos down, 7-1. Schraffenberger, who continually threw his big breaking ball for strikes, went 6-1 with a 1.88 ERA during the regular seaosn.
Schraffenberger went eight innings and gave up one run, earned, on seven hits. He struck out two and walked three. He threw 105 pitches, 69 for strikes.
Locos starter Colin Gossard went 7 2/3 innings and gave up five runs, all earned, on eight hits. He struck out four and walked one.
Carriger, Luke Reynolds and Hunter Williams went 2 for 4 for the Locos.
Locos notes: The Locos will have a greet the players celebration for fans at 6 tonight at Simmons.
Reach Tom Usher at email@example.com or on Twitter at @Lima_Usher.