LIMA — The Lima Locos put together a near perfect way to start the season.
And in doing so, they helped fill the stomach of about 700 fans with pizza.
The Locos pounded out 14 hits in an 8-0 victory over Lorain County on opening night Friday at Simmons Field.
Along the way, three Locos pitchers struck out 16 hitters to win a free pizza for all fans with a game ticket. Westgate Lanes provides free pizza when Locos pitchers strike out 13 or more in a game.
“Offensively, 14 hits, we’re aggressive on the bases, we capitalized on their walks early. That’s the way baseball is supposed to be played,’’ Locos coach Brian Garman said.
The Locos’ defense was also solid, making just one error.
“It was a good atmosphere tonight,’’ Locos right fielder Will Robertson (Creighton) said. “It’s almost like a college rivalry atmosphere.’’
Locos right-hander Colin Gossard (Findlay/Bath) was outstanding, as he worked the first four innings, giving up no runs on three hits. He struck out nine and walked three.
Gossard pitched well for the Locos in 2015, but was limited to one appearance last summer when he injured his right shoulder.
Gossard started the game by giving up a single and two walks to load the bases with no outs.
That’s when the Bath product went to work.
Caleb Waller hit a come-backer to the mound, which Gossard handled and fired home for the fielder’s choice.
“I tried to stay calm and fill the strike zone up,’’ Gossard said.
Gossard then struck out the next two batters to escape without any damage.
“I think I was anxious and excited to get out there,’’ Gossard said. “Last year I couldn’t play so it was exciting to get back out there for the Lima Locos.’’
Said Garman, “He showed what Colin Gossard is capable of doing. He put himself in a corner, but he’s very dominate and I think he’ll continue to show that. … We got him out solely because of the pitch count.’’
Gossard threw his fastball, breaking ball and slider for strikes. He left after four innings, as he had thrown 90 pitches, 56 for strikes.
“My curveball was working for me tonight. I felt like I could throw it at any count, any time I wanted to,’’ Gossard said.
Joe Taylor (Kennesaw State) went the next two innings for the Locos, giving up one hit with two strikeouts.
Joe Gahm (Auburn) finished up with three shutout innings and five strikeouts.
“Both were very good,’’ Garman said. “Gahm didn’t threw much at school this year and I was excited to get him out there for three innings and let him pitch through some stuff. I’m excited to see what he can do.’’
As for the Locos’ hitters, Garrett Hodges went 3 for 5 with a solo home run and one RBI.
Catcher J.T. Thomas was 3 for 3 with two walks and three RBI.
“Thomas is a monster,’’ Garman said. “He does everything you want him to do.’’
Robertson was 2 for 5 with three RBI.
The Locos started the season with a three-run first to jump out to a 3-0 lead. They added three more in the fourth to make it 6-0.
Will Kilgore, a key member of the Locos championship team in 2015, started the game off with a double down the left-field line.
Hodges reached on an error by the Lorain County third baseman. Thomas walked to load the bases with no outs.
Robertson delivered a two-run single to center and the Locos were on top 2-0.
“You know you’re going to get something good to hit because you know he doesn’t want to walk you,’’ Robertson said.
In the fourth, Kilgore’s sacrifice fly to center gave the Locos a 4-0 lead. Thomas lined a double to center and it was 5-0.
Robertson added an RBI single in the fourth to make it 6-0.
Hodges put an exclamation point on the night with a solo home run into the Lorain bullpen in the eighth to make it 8-0.
“I think it (the first inning) set a tone for the offense and hitting’s contagious,” Robertson said. “Up and down the lineup hit tonight. … It’s awesome to get the season started off like this.’’
The Lima News sports department can be reached at 567-242-0451.