LIMA — There would be no late-inning title magic for the Lima Locos in 2016.
Hamilton right-hander Ben Havel (Elmhurst) made sure of it.
Havel fired a complete-game, five-hitter in Hamilton’s 2-1 victory over the Locos in the deciding Game 5 to capture the Great Lakes Collegiate League Championship series before close to 1,800 fans at Simmons Field. Hamilton won the best-of-five championship series, 3-2.
“They played better,” Locos coach Chad Ehrnsberger said. “I’m not ashamed of the way we played at all. You can play well and still not win and I thought tonight was one of those nights. It was a hard-fought game. They played well. We played well.”
Hamilton won its second GLCL title, with the other coming in 2010.
It also prevented the Locos from winning their second straight championship.
Last year the Locos won the title in the bottom of the 10th inning of Game 3 of the best-of-three championship series over Hamilton at Simmons Field.
“I played here (for Hamilton) last summer and to be able to come back to Lima and take it this year is awesome,” Havel said. “I said the whole year, ‘I wanted Lima.’ ’’
Trailing 2-1 in the home ninth, the Locos had one final shot. Kevin Woodall led off with a single to center. Pinch-hitter Colin Stolly bunted him to second.
Havel got Jason Sullivan to ground out to short, which moved Stolly to third. But DayFran Ortiz lined out to short to end it and set off the Hamilton celebration.
Hamilton took a 1-0 lead in the third. The Locos tied it at 1 in the fourth. Hamilton scored the game-winning run in the seventh.
In the sixth and seventh the Locos had the leadoff man on, but on both occasions the next batter hit into a double play.
In the sixth, Jared Nixon walked, then took off running on a 3-2 pitch which Woodall lined to right field for an out. Joes right fielder Tyler Thamann made the catch and fired to first to double off Nixon.
“It wasn’t a hit and run,” Ehrnsberger said. “I had him running on the 3-2 count.”
Havel’s Elmhurst College teammate, A.J. Compton, was the unlikely offensive hero for the Joes. He hit only .208 with no home runs in part-time duty this summer. But three key injuries recently elevated Compton to a starter in center field.
Compton went 1 for 2 with his first home run of the year and two RBI.
“I didn’t get to play a lot this year, but you just wait for your shot,” Compton said. “I got my shot and I’ve been killing it since.”
Hamilton took a 1-0 lead in the top of the third on a solo home run to left by Compton, who pounced on a 1-0 pitch.
“It was 1-0, he left it a little hit and I’ve been swinging the bat well,” Compton said.
The Locos tied the game at 1 in the fourth. Nixon singled, took second on a wild pitch and went to third on a groundout. Nixon scored on Sullivan’s grounder to third which the Joes third baseman failed to handle for an error.
In the top of the seventh, Hamilton’s Ben Spitznagel singled and took second on an error by the Locos center fielder. Bryson Shelton walked and Thamann put down a bunt single to load the bases.
Blake Hart hit a grounder to Kevin Woodall at first, who fired home to catcher Ortiz to force out Spitznagel at the plate.
That was the end of Locos starter Connor Curlis and on came reliever Drew Reeves.
Compton greeted Reeves with a sacrifice fly with the bases loaded to give the Joes a 2-1 lead.
Curlis, the GLCL pitcher of the year, started for the Locos and pitched well over his 6 1/3 innings. He gave up two runs, both earned, on four hits. He struck out three and walked one. Curlis threw 88 pitches, 57 for strikes.
Havel, who was 4-0 with a 1.04 ERA during the season, went all nine innings. He gave up one unearned run on five hits. He struck out four and walked one. Havel threw 117 pitches for strikes. He continually threw his fastball, breaking ball and change-up for strikes.
“I mixed speeds and threw a lot of breaking balls,” Havel said. “I pounded the strike zone better than I had all year.”
Ehrnsberger made sure to thank the crowd of nearly 2,000 who came out for the title game.
“The crowd we had tonight, I feel bad for them,” Ehrnsberger said. “The support they’ve given us, I take my hat off to them. I wish I could tell them thank you and hopefully they come back out next year and we have a little bit better ending.”
Locos notes: Columbus has the most GLCL championships with eight. The Locos are second in titles with four.
The Lima News sports department can be reached at 567-242-0451.