LIMA – The Saginaw Sugar Beets are proving feisty for an expansion team.
First, they knocked off the Lima Locos on Saturday at Saginaw.
Then, the Locos had to battle to the end to hold off Saginaw 8-5 Sunday at Simmons Field.
The Lima Locos (5-3) remained atop the North Division of the Great Lakes Collegiate League. Saginaw is 5-8.
Saginaw defeated the Locos 19-7 on Saturday.
“This was huge,” Locos coach Jared Gaynor said. “Yesterday we weren’t on our game, and we were pretty thin on pitching. We even pitched a couple of position players yesterday. So it was nice to be back on our home field and take care of business.’’
Locos reliever Mitch Ebben (UNOH) retired the first two hitters in the ninth with an 8-5 lead.
But Saginaw loaded the bases with two singles and walk.
Ebben closed it out by getting Connor Charping to fly out to center to end it.
Ebben threw two shutout innings, giving up four hits. He struck out one and walked one.
The Locos had double-figure hits (11) for the fourth straight game.
“Up and down the lineup, it doesn’t matter if it’s the leadoff guy, the three hole or nine hole, all of them are hitting right now, and it’s fun to watch,” Gaynor said.
Locos catcher Daniel Seres (Kennesaw State) was 3 for 4 with a double and three RBI.
“I try to drive it up the middle and take it where it’s pitched,” Seres said. … “I feel like we’re consistently putting up five-plus runs, and if we keep doing that, it’s going to be hard to beat us.’’
The Locos’ John Privitera (Missouri State) went 2 for 4. Tyler Simon (Kennesaw State) went 2 for 3 with a double and an RBI.
“Tyler Simon has executed three hit-and-runs this season,” Gaynor said. “Every time I put it on, he executes it.’’
The Locos’ Jess Davis had a home run.
Lima scored a run in the first and third to take a 2-0 lead.
Saginaw scored three in the fifth to go ahead 3-2. The key blow was Saginaw’s Noah Marcoux (Davenport) launching a three-run home run over the right-center field fence. That gave the Sugar Beets had a 3-2 lead.
The Locos’ Davis (Alabama-Birmingham) led off the home fifth with a solo home run to right to tie the game at 3.
The Locos took the lead in the sixth.
In the home sixth, Mark Castelblanco was hit with a pitch. Castelblanco scored from first on an RBI double down the left-field line by Seres.
That gave the Locos a 4-3 lead.
Lima added four more in the seventh to push the lead to 8-3.
In the seventh, Jaxon Shirley’s RBI single gave the Locos a 5-3 lead. Castelblanco’s RBI double made it 6-3. Seres had a two-run single and it was 8-3.
Saginaw came back with two runs in the top of the eighth to cut the margin to 8-5.
Locos starter right-hander Jordan Marks (South Carolina-Upstate) went five innings and gave up three runs, all earned, on four hits. He struck out seven and walked none. Marks commanded the strike zone with 78 pitches, 53 for strikes.
“Jordan was great tonight and the best part about him is he works super fast,” Gaynor said. “He gets the ball and pounds the zone.’’
Added catcher Seres, “He worked ahead well and threw a lot of strikes. He had a really good fastball and we worked fastball, change-up.’’
Lefty Adam Biss, who just arrived in Lima on Sunday, went two innings of middle relief and gave up two runs. He was effective with his herky-jerky windup until he walked two to start his third inning of relief in the eighth.
At that point, Ebben came on for the final two innings.
Locos notes: The Locos have a two-game homestand Tuesday and Wednesday against Lake Erie at Simmons Field. Both games start at 7 p.m.
The Locos are second in the league in hitting at .322. They rank 12th out of 14 teams in ERA at 7.20. The Locos are averaging 10 runs per game, but are giving up eight runs per game.
The Locos have hit eight home runs in seven games. Daniel Series, Jaxon Shirley and Tyler Anshaw all have two home runs.
Tyler Simon leads the team with five stolen bases.
Pitchers Nate Witherspoon (Missouri State) and Adam Biss (Emmanuel College, Ga.) joined the team Sunday. Auburn outfielder Judd Ward also arrived on Sunday, but was not active for the game.