HAMILTON – Put the champagne back in the refrigerator after Hamilton put Lima’s celebration of a second consecutive title on hold after scorching the Locos 15-6 in game four of the Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League championship series Monday at Foundation Field.
The Lima Locos have themselves to blame for not being able to celebrate their second consecutive titles after errors and walks cost them throughout the game.
With the win, the Joes have forced a winner-take-all game five that will be played at 7:05 tonight at Simmons Field.
Five errors, 10 walks and two hit basemen, along with 15 hits, proved to be too much for the Locos to overcome.
Things got ugly early for the Locos.
Starter Bailey Martin, who lasted just seven batters, was tagged with the loss. But not all the blame should fall on his shoulders as his teammates contributed to Hamilton’s four-run first inning.
Leadoff man Jackson Boyce (IUPU) opened the game with an infield single that probably should have been fielded by second baseman Dainos Deas II (Auburn) but the official scorer was feeling generous and credited Boyce with a hit. An unassisted out by Kevin Woodall (Coastal Carolina) recorded the first out but Deas’ second opportunity at fielding a ball was a blatant error and Hamilton was in business with runners on first and third.
Martin then loaded the bases with a walk and then followed with another base on balls that brought in the first run for Hamilton. Blake Hart (Transylvania) made the Locos pay for the walks and fielding miscues with a base-clearing double tha tacked on three more runs. After Martin hit the next batter his night was done and the Locos found themselves down 4-0.
“They weren’t really getting hits and we were walking guys and when you are giving free bases and give up a double there is nothing you can say, It wasn’t a good start to the game for us,” Ehrnsberger said. “We walked a couple of guys the first inning and things snowballed from there. I don’t think anybody was looking ahead to tomorrow.”
Deas II atoned for his fielding miscues in the top of the second when he drove in the Locos first run by hitting a single that hugged the leftfield line to bring DayFran Ortiz (University of Northwestern Ohio) who had singled earlier in the inning and moved to second after Jacob Barnwell (Ohio State) was hit by a pitch. Barnwell crossed the plate when the Joes had a fielding error of their own from the third baseman to cut the Joes lead in half 4-2.
Base on balls that hurt the Locos in the first inning came back to haunt the Joes in the top of the fourth when Danny Hentz (Dayton) opened the frame by walking Ortiz. A fly out followed and then Ortiz was erased on a fielder’s choice from the bat of Barnwell (Ohio State) for the second out. Deas II walked on four straight pitches and then David Chabut (Kennesaw St.) blooped an opposite field single just out the outstretched glove of the Joes first baseman and Barnwell raced home to cut the lead to 4-3.
Hamilton got a run back in the bottom of the fourth when Ben Spietznagel, the league’s MVP, laced a two-out double to right with runners first and second off Cox.
The trend of the Locos scoring a run and the Joes responding with runs of their own continued for the next five innings and despite all their mistakes the Locos were within striking distance, down just 7-5 after six and a half innings.
But any chance of a miracle comeback came to an end when the Joes scored five runs in the bottom of the seventh to open up a 12-5 advantage. Three more in the eighth sealed the deal for the Joes.
Ehrnsberger must now rally his troops for game five.
“The great thing about baseball is you get to come out here tomorrow and do it again,” the Locos skipper said. “We can’t let this bother you too much. It should stings losing a game when you have a chance to clinch andand get a ring. Like I told the guys ‘let it sting and then it is over.’”
In addition to having home-field advantage tonight, the Locos will have ace Connor Curlis (Ohio State) on the mound. Curlis, the GLSCL pitcher of the year, is 7-0 with a 1.08 ERA.
Reach Jose Nogueras at 567-242-0468 or on twitter at @JoseNogueras1