LIMA — It’s been an unusual trek to Lima for Australian-born Jack Barrie.
Barrie, who was drafted by the Minnesota Twins in 2014, found himself looking for a home after going through a string of injuries along the way.
However, after Thursday’s stellar performance for the Lima Locos, it looks like he’s at least found a temporary home.
The 6-foot, 4-inch, 240-pound Barrie went 2-for-3 at the plate, with a grand slam home run in the fifth inning, to lead the Locos to a 6-0 victory over the visiting Southern Ohio Copperheads in Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League action at Simmons Field.
Barrie’s grand slam was a liner over the right center-field fence off Southern Ohio starting pitcher Aaron Kucia. The left-handed Kucia pitched five innings, giving up all six runs on three base hits. Kucia walked eight batters, while throwing 108 pitches.
“It felt pretty good,” Barrie said. “It was nice to get the first one out of the way. It’s a surreal feeling. I was looking to be aggressive as much as I could. He was throwing balls. I was looking for a first-pitch strike, honestly, straight away. He threw the same pitch that I hit to left field, that I missed on. So, I laid back on it.
It’s been a long process. It’s beautiful to be back at it. I just love this game. It’s been up and down. So, it’s nice to be healed, fully cleared, and back on the field.”
Barrie will be playing baseball at the University of Northwestern Ohio. However, he will have to redshirt his first season. This week marks the first time since Dec. 30, 2015 in which Barrie has played competitive baseball.
“That guy’s good,” Locos manager Brian Garman said. “There’s no way around it. He’s got tremendous power. And that’s why we put Jack in the lineup. But, we have to be careful. He’s coming back from a knee surgery. So, we’re probably going to mostly DH (designate-hit) him. He probably won’t see a lot of the field.”
The Locos (5-1) also received a great performance from its pitching staff against the Copperheads (3-3).
Tyler Jones (University of Dayton) got the starting nod for the Locos. Jones pitched seven innings of one-hit baseball, before giving way to Isaac Olson (University of Cincinnati) in the eighth inning. Jones struck out nine, while walking just three.
Taylor Wilkes (Kennesaw) had a brief appearance in the ninth for Lima, before being ejected for hitting a batter. Earlier in the game, Southern Ohio pitcher Jesse James was ejected for hitting a Lima batter. Since both benches were warned after the first hit batter, the league rules state that both the pitcher and manager get ejected on the next hit-batter situation, which meant Garman was forced to exit the game with Wilkes.
Jackson Vescelus (Creighton) came in to finish the pitching duties for the Locos in the ninth. As a staff, the Locos held the Copperheads to just one base hit, while recording 11 strikeouts.
“It is what it is. I’m not upset about it,” Garman said about the ejection of both him and Wilkes. “I thought Wilkes did his job. It was a breaking ball that got away from him, up in the count. We’re not going to head hunt. It’s not what we do. It’s unfortunate, but that’s the way it goes.”
Parker Upton (Creighton University) smashed a triple down the right-field line in the third inning to drive in the other two runs for the Locos.
Garman was impressed at Jones’ command on the mound Thursday night.
“Tyler Jones surprised me. I’ve known Tyler Jones for six, seven years. I knew him since he was a young kid. He came up from our (Lima) Express organization. And he’s one of the first guys I called when I got promoted to the managerial position. I knew what we had in Tyler. He gave us seven strong innings, and really mixed his pitches well. He pitched a great game,” Garman said.
The Lima News sports department can be reached at 567-242-0451.