FLAT ROCK, Mich. – The Lima Locos steamrolled their way into the championship series.
The Locos rolled to a 9-2 victory over St. Clair (Windsor, Ontario) to win the best-of-three Great Lakes Collegiate League semifinal series 2-0 Thursday at Flat Rock Field.
The Locos swept the semifinal series after a 7-0 win in Game 1 on Wednesday.
“It feels good,” Locos shortstop Tyler Tolbert (four hits) said. “We’re ready to roll whenever we play again. We’re pretty locked in.’’
Locos coach Brian Garman said, “We felt if we could score early, we maybe could take them out of it, mentally, and that’s what we did. That’s a big game to send us into the championship.
Locos advance to the best-of-three championship series against the Grand Lake/Richmond winner.
The Locos are set to open the championship series at 7 p.m. Saturday at Simmons Field.
The Locos will have Game 1 (on Saturday) and Game 3 (On Monday, if necessary) at home. Game 2 will be Sunday on the road.
In the other semifinal series, Richmond and Grand Lake are tied 1-1. Game 3 is set for Friday night at Richmond.
It was a complete effort for the Locos in Game 2, with hitting, pitching and defense.
Right-hander Zach Graveno (Mercer) picked up the win for the Locos with his fastball and assortment of breaking pitches. He worked 6 2/3 innings, giving up one run, earned, on six hits. He struck out five and walked three. Graveno threw 111 pitches, 65 for strikes.
Isaac Olson, Joe Taylor and Taylor Wilkes close it out for the Locos.
For the Locos’ balanced offense, Josh DeBacker went 2 for 3 with two doubles and an RBI. Jeddediah Fagg went 2 for 3 with two RBI. Fagg had the first two RBI of the game.
“I got two strikes, I choked up and tried to hit it hard somewhere,” Fagg said. “It’s awesome (to move on). I can’t wait to come back to Lima and hopefully bring back a championship again.’’
Will Kilgore was 3 for 4 with a home run and a double. Tolbert went 4 for 5 with two RBI.
The Locos scored one in the first, one in the third and four in the fourth to take a 6-0 lead.
The Locos went out to a 1-0 lead in the first. DeBacker doubled and came home on an RBI single to left by Fagg.
The Locos pushed the lead to 2-0 in the third. Garrett Hodges walked, took second on a passed ball and scored on an RBI single to left by Fagg.
The Locos opened it up with some key hits and hustle.
J.T. Thomas singled and went to second on a groundout. With two out, Tolbert had an RBI single and took second on the throw to make it 3-0.
Ross Adolph reached on an infield single to deep first. The St. Clair first baseman flagged it down and flipped late to the first baseman for the single. The speedy Tolbert never stopped running and scored from second on the play to make it 4-0.
DeBacker’s RBI double made it 5-0. Hodges added an RBI single and it was 6-0.
Tolbert added an RBI single in the fifth, his second RBI of the game, to push the Locos lead to 7-0. Tolbert came around and scored from third on a wild pitch and it was 8-0 in the fifth.
“I made a hard turn around third and when the pitcher took a couple of steps toward right field, I just took off,” Tolbert said.
Kilgore added on with a long solo home run to left in the sixth and it was 9-0.
Locos notes: The Locos landed five players on the first team all-GLCL team. Named to the first team were second baseman Will Kilgore, shortstop Tyler Tolbert, outfielder Garrett Hodges and pitchers Brad Croy and Joe Gahm. Chandler Stillings was named to the second team.
Named honorable mention were J.T. Thomas, Josh DeBacker, Stephen Dobbs, Ross Adolph, Ethan Hurt, Jack Barrie, Chase Burks and Taylor Wilkes.
Brad Croy is expected to start Game 1 of the championship series on Saturday.
St. Clair played its regular-season games at Lacasse Park, in Windsor, Ontario. But it played only teams in the Northern (Michigan) Division. The Michigan teams were able to travel to Canada without a passport. For the playoffs, St. Clair must play its home games at Flat Rock Field, in Flat Rock, Mich., the home of the Lake Erie Monarchs.
The league has said all teams must have passports for next season.
St. Clair general manager Chico LaBute served as an assistant coach for the Locos under Rob Livchak in 1990.