LIMA – Locos outfielder Garrett Hodges has been hitting line drive after line drive this summer.
He even got three more hits after he flew over the fence attempting to catch a home run ball in the fifth.
Hodges (Kennesaw State) went 4 for 5 with two RBI to lead the Locos to an 11-6 victory over Licking County before close to 1,700 fireworks fans Tuesday at Simmons Field.
“It was awesome and every one of these people was out here cheering us on,” Hodges said. “It makes it a lot easier to get up for a game like this, with everyone cheering your name.’’
Licking County led 4-0 in the first and 6-4 in the seventh before the Locos mounted a comeback.
Lima scored five in the seventh to take a 9-6 lead. The Locos added two in the eighth to make it 11-6.
For the day, the Locos pounded out 16 hits and stole seven bases.
The Locos (14-5) entered Tuesday’s game in first place in the Central Division of the Great Lakes Collegiate League. They were four games in front of second-place Grand Lake (9-9) and Galion (9-9).
Licking County is 8-11.
Joe Gahm (Auburn) earned the win for the Locos with 2 2/3 innings of shutout, no-hit relief. He struck out three.
“I’ve been working a lot on a cutter and it was moving pretty well today,” Gahm said. “This has been helping me build up my confidence.’’
Gahm has pitched well for the Locos after throwing only one inning this spring at Auburn.
“Gahm is worth his weight in gold for this pitching staff,” Garman said. “He’s our go-to guy and our long guy out of the pen.’’
Licking pushed the lead to 6-4 in the fifth on a solo home run to left by Miguel Pimentel.
On the play, Hodges went flying over the short fence in left and disappeared into the home bullpen. He got to his feet, shook off the cobwebs and continued in the game.
“I thought I was pretty close to catching it and I knew the fence was there,” Hodges said. “I didn’t think it was that high, but it kept on going. … I landed on my head and I rolled over on my back. I wasn’t about to come out of the game. I was locked in and ready to go (for my next at-bat).’’
Garman said, “The guy is amazing. The kid has been working like crazy and he wants to be really, really good and he’s going to be. He’s pretty fearless.’’
Down 6-4 in the seventh, Hodges started the inning by taking an 0-2 pitch and lining it to left for a single.
“With our lineup, it’s unreal what we can do,” Hodges said. “It showed tonight.’’
Garman said, “That 0-2 hit that Hodges had stands out. That was a huge hit for us to start that inning.’’
Jeddediah Fagg then singled to put runners on the corners.
J.T. Thomas put down a squeeze bunt to score Hodges and bring the Locos within 6-5. Jack Barrie’s RBI single to right tied the game at 6.
Josh DeBacker gave the Locos the lead to stay, 7-6, with a sacrifice fly. Ethan Hunt followed with an RBI single and it was 8-6. Will Kilgore capped off the inning with an RBI single to give the Locos a 9-6 lead in the five-run seventh.
In the eighth, Parker Upton had an RBI squeeze bunt to push the lead to 10-6. Debacker had an RBI single to make it 11-6.
Will Robertson went 2 for 5 with an RBI for the Locos. DeBacker was 2 for 4 with two RBI. Hurt was 2 for 5 with an RBI.
Kilgore and Hurt both had two stolen bases.
Licking County started the game off against Locos starter Brad Croy with three straight singles. They would go on to score four in the top of the first.
The Locos answered with two runs in the home first.
Tyler Tolbert, Kilgore and Robertson started the game with singles for Lima. Robertson’s RBI single to center made it 4-1. Hodges’ RBI fielder’s choice grounder brought the Locos within 4-2.
The Locos tied the game at 4 with a two-run third inning.
After the first, Croy settled in and retired nine straight. But in the top of the fourth Licking took a 5-4 lead on an RBI single to center by Jarrett Peters.
Croy went 5 1/3 innings and gave up six runs, all earned, on eight hits. He struck out six and walked one. Croy threw 101 pitches, 66 for strikes.
Locos notes: Locos shortstop Tyler Tolbert (Alabama-Birmingham) was named the GLCL player of the week. He hit .625 (10 for 16) for the week with two doubles, three RBI and five stolen bases. Tolbert is fifth in the league in hitting at .422. He also ranks third in stolen bases (11). … Ethan Hurt is 12th in the league in hitting at .364. … Joe Gahm is sixth in strikeouts (24).
Next up: The Locos meet Licking in the second game of the two-game series at 7 p.m. tonight at Simmons Field. Lorain County comes to Lima at 7 p.m. Thursday at Simmons Field.