CELINA — It was a battle between No. 1 and No. 2 in the Central Division of the Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League.
The host Grand Lake Mariners were hoping to close the gap between them and the division-leading Lima Locos. The Locos came into Thursday’s baseball matchup at Montgomery Field with a six-game lead over the Mariners. The Mariners were riding a five-game winning streak, while the Locos had recorded eight wins in its last 10 games.
Grand Lake’s streak is still intact.
The Mariners pounded 11 base hits, en route to an 8-7 victory Thursday at Montgomery Field
However, the game started out as a pitcher’s duel, as neither team was able to score until the fourth inning.
The Locos (24-8) scored a run in the fourth, on a ground ball to the left side of the infield by J.T. Thomas, that drove in Tyler Tolbert. Tolbert got on base earlier with a walk. The Locos did not get its first hit off Mariners starting pitcher Stephen Morrison until the fifth, when Jaxson Fagg lined a single to left. The Locos managed to get two hits off Morrison in the fifth. Ethan Hurt (2-for-4) followed in the fifth with a three-run home run to right field, giving the Locos a 4-0 lead.
Heading into the bottom of the seventh, Lima led 4-1.
However, in the bottom of the seventh, the Mariners (19-13) erupted for seven runs on five hits, pushing out to an 8-4 lead.
In the big seventh, the Mariners cut the deficit to 4-3, on a double to left by Patrick Raiff, that drove in two runs. Then, Tucker Linder followed up with an RBI single to right that knotted the score at 4 apiece. Still in the seventh, Nate Otsmo (2-for-4) delivered an RBI single, giving Grand Lake a 5-4 lead.
The Locos utilized four pitchers in the seventh.
Things continued to fall apart for the Locos in the seventh. The Mariners went on to take an 8-4 lead by the end of the inning.
In the top of the eighth, Jack Barrie (University of Northwestern Ohio) blasted a two-run home run over the right-field fence, cutting the Mariners’ lead to 8-6.
In the ninth, the Locos added a run on an RBI single by Hurt, cutting the deficit to one run.
Lima’s starting pitcher, Zach Graveno worked 5 2/3 innings before being pulled in the sixth. Graveno was tabbed for one run on six hits, while striking out three and walking one. Graveno threw a total of 103 pitches on the night.
Morrison pitched seven innings for the Mariners before being pulled in the eighth, as Damon Egnor took over pitching duties. Morrison scattered four hits, while striking out nine and walking three.
“We went to a couple options out of the bullpen that we haven’t had all summer,” Locos manager Brian Garman said. “We took a chance, and we lost the bet. A seven-run seventh inning is tough to overcome. But I told the guys that overall, tonight wasn’t a terrible night.”
The Lima News sports department can be reached at 567-242-0451.