CELINA — Locos outfielder Garrett Hodges had a pretty good hunch what was coming on the first pitch.
And he was right.
Hodges nailed a first-pitch fastball for a three-run home run well over the right-center field fence in the sixth inning to lift the Locos to a 3-1 victory over Grand Lake in the first game of a doubleheader Saturday at Montgomery Field.
The Locos pulled off the makeup doubleheader sweep (both seven innings) when they won the second game, 3-2.
Down 2-0 in the seventh inning of the second game, the Locos’ Jack Barrie hit a three-run double to the center-field fence to give the Locos a 3-2 lead.
“He busted me in with a fastball in and I was ready for it,” Barrie said. “It was amazing. I’d been hitting dribblers the last few games. It was nice to start hitting some.’’
The first-place Locos are 18-5 and hold a six-game lead in the Central Division over Grand Lake (12-11). The Locos have won seven in a row.
“We were on the road at their place and they threw some pretty good arms against us,” Locos coach Brian Garman said. “I’m proud to see our guys battle through that. I was glad to get out of here with two (wins). That’s a big day.’’
The first game of the day was picked up with the Locos batting in the bottom of the fourth inning with the scored tied at 0. The Locos were batting, as was the case when the game was halted for rain on June 30.
Grand Lake pitcher Stephen Morrison returned to the mound where he left off before the game was suspended in the fourth inning.
“I remember from last time and from earlier today (in the fourth inning) he started me out with fastballs,” the left-handed hitting Hodges said. “I figured he’d start me out with a fastball. It was (a fastball) up and I let it fly. It felt good.
‘’With a runner on third and one out, I just tried to elevate it and get the runner home. I didn’t think it was going out with the wind, but luckily, it kept on going.’’
Grand Lake’s Cole Womack’s RBI single in the fifth gave Grand Lake a 1-0 lead.
It stayed that way until the home sixth (the Locos were the home team).
In the sixth, Parker Upton walked. Barrie singled to right to put runners on first and third with one out.
Hodges followed with his three-run blast to put the Locos ahead, 3-1.
“The thing about this game is it was only three innings so it was kind of weird,” Hodges said. “It feels like we snuck a win because we only played three innings.’’ Zach Graveno (Mercer) worked the first four innings for the Locos, giving up no runs on three hits before the game was suspended. But after throwing a nine-inning, three-hit shutout on Thursday, he wasn’t making an appearance on Saturday.
Instead, Isaac Olson (Cincinnati) started the fifth inning for the Locos.
Olson got the win with his three innings of work. He gave up one run, earned, on two hits. He struck out five and walked two.
“It felt good,” Olson said. “It was an odd situation. I was prepared for a start, but it really wasn’t a start. It just felt like a short game.’’
In the seventh (the final inning), Olson struck out two, but walked one. He got the final out of the game when second baseman Will Kilgore made a diving grab in foul territory down the right-field line.
“I finally settled in at the end,” Olson said.
In the second game, Grand Lake scored a run in the fourth and another run in the fifth and held a 2-0 lead entering the seventh.
Grand Lake’s 6-foot-9 left-hander Tyler Hankins, who went 6-1 with a 3.83 ERA at Central Michigan this year, threw five shutout innings, giving up four hits.
In the seventh, the Locos loaded the bases against Mariners reliever Alec Whaley.,
Tyler Tolbert singled, Kilgore was hit by a pitch and Hodges walked.
That set up Barrie’s bases-clearing double on a 0-1 pitch.
“We had two wins on two swings with six RBIs,” Garman said. ‘’Those are the biggest hits you can ask for.’’
Lima’s Chase Burks went 5 2/3 innings and gave up two runs, both earned on six hits. Lefty Chandler Stillings came in and got the final out in the sixth, with a runner on third, to get the win.
Taylor Wilkes picked up the save, facing four batters in the final inning. He gave up a hit, but notched two strikeouts with his overpowering fastball.
“We played a huge game today,” Barrie said. “There wasn’t a single point when we were down or thought we were going to lose.’’
Locos notes: The Locos are ranked No. 23 in the nation this week by Collegiate Summer Baseball, which ranks the top 35 summer college baseball teams. … Locos shortstop Tyler Tolbert (Alabama-Birmingham) is fifth in the league in hitting at .397. He also ranks second in stolen bases (13). … Ethan Hurt (Trevecca Nazarene) is 14th in hitting (.349). … Garrett Hodges (Kennesaw State) is sixth in the GLCL in runs (21). … Will Kilgore (Georgia State) ranks sixth in doubles (7). Kilgore is also fourth in walks (20) and fifth in stolen bases (10). … The Locos rank sixth in the GLCL in hitting at .277. They are second in stolen bases (43). The Locos are first in team ERA at 3.43.
Up next: The Locos will play a makeup doubleheader against Grand Lake at 5 p.m. Sunday at Simmons Field. Both games will be seven innings.
The Lima News sports department can be reached at 567-242-0468.