LIMA — It was a full night of fun for Lima Locos’ fans.
First, Locos pitchers Brad Croy and Chandler Stillings struck out 13 to provide free pizza for all.
And with that domination on the mound, the Locos rolled past Galion 5-0 Tuesday at Simmons Field. Galion was held to six hits on the night.
Locos pitchers also managed to strike the beer batter out three times, which gave the crowd inexpensive beer for three innings.
“That was awesome when they started the pizza chant,” Locos left fielder Garrett Hodges said. “The beer batter struck out three times and they got pizza. And a win. The crowd got a lot of gifts tonight.’’
Added Croy, “It was good to get some timely hits and get the fans some pizza.’’
The first-place Locos are 20-6 and lead Grand Lake by six games in the Central Division of the Great Lakes Collegiate League. Galion is 12-14.
The Locos were coming off a loss to Grand Lake on Sunday, which snapped their eight-game winning streak.
“To see them come out and respond like that, it’s a step in the right direction,” Locos coach Brian Garman said. “It was a complete ballgame. We did a lot of things well.’’
Croy (Bowling Green/Ottawa-Glandorf) threw his breaking ball consistently for strikes, as he threw seven shutout innings. He gave up five hits, struck out eight and walked one. Croy threw 81 pitches, 54 for strikes.
“I could really locate that (the breaking ball) today so I was starting a lot of hitters with that,” Croy said. “I was locating my fastball inside and out, so that was helping me out, too.’’
Croy is 2-0 with a 2.24 ERA.
“That was Brad Croy,” Garman said. “I thought he had a better feel for his breaking ball tonight. That pitch had a lot of depth to it and he threw it a lot early in the count and got a lot of called strikes on it.’’
Lefty Chandler Stillings (Bowling Green) picked up the save with two shutout, one-hit innings. He struck out five and walked none.
Stillings was coming off a clutch relief performance at Grand Lake.
“That’s what we expect out of Chandler,” Garman said.
Hodges (Kennesaw State) went 2 for 4 with a home run. Josh DeBacker (Wichita State) went 3 for 4 with a double to lead the offense.
The Locos jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first.
Tyler Tolbert led off the home first with a single. Hodges singled to put runners at the corners. Will Kilgore’s sacrifice fly to shallow center was caught by the Galion shortstop and Tolbert ran home with the first run. DeBacker’s RBI single to left gave the Locos a 2-0 lead.
Croy sailed through the first six innings, giving up two hits.
But in the seventh, the Graders’ Matt Noel singled and Austin Hathaway doubled to put runners at second and third with two outs.
Croy then struck out Jarett Smetana on a breaking ball to wiggle out of trouble.
“I knew I could get him with a breaking ball, so I threw him four out of five breaking balls and got him to strike out,” Croy said.
The Locos pushed their lead to 3-0 in the seventh on a solo home run to right by Garrett Hodges. It was Hodges’ fifth home run.
“It felt good,” Hodges said. “We came out here after the Grand Lake series (four games in two days) and today from the get-go our energy was live.’’
Terence Norman (Kennesaw State) launched a two-run home run to right-center field in the eighth to give the Locos a 5-0 lead.
Galion starter Osvaldo Duran pitched well after giving up two runs in the first. He went six innings and gave up two runs, both earned on six hits. He struck out one and walked one.
Locos notes: The top two teams in each of the three divisions (North, Central, South) will qualify for the Great Lakes Collegiate League Playoffs. If the Locos win the North, they will get a first-round bye and immediately move into the best-of-three semifinal series.
Locos infielder Will Kilgore (Georgia State) hit his 10th double Tuesday night. The team record is 14, held by Andy Chriscaden (2011) and John LaMar (1991). … Tyler Tolbert is second in the GLCL in stolen bases (15), while Kilgore ranks third (12). … The Locos lead the league in stolen bases (50).
The GLCL all-star game is set for 7 p.m. next Tuesday at Prasco Park in Mason, just north of Cincinnati. The all-star teams are expected to be announced Wednesday.
Pitchers Jackson Vescelus (Creighton) and Ryan Bramlet (Eastern Kentucky) both left the team and headed home.
Up next: The Locos travel to Galion on Wednesday for a 7 p.m. game. The Locos are back home at 7 p.m. Thursday against Licking County.
The Lima News sports department can be reached at 567-242-0468.