LIMA – The Lima Locos have put the call out for pitching.
This week the Locos’ pitching tank was nearly empty.
That forced the Locos to throw four everyday players in a 13-5 loss to St. Clair in the Fourth of July game Wednesday at Simmons Field.
The Locos coaching staff is trying to perform magic with a thinning staff after three pitchers went home, four are in various stages of battling injuries and others needed days off.
And the team also has two doubleheaders this week, including today.
“We’re very thin (on pitching) and have lost three pitchers in last four days, so once we got down by a little bit (Wednesday), I knew Mark (Castelblanco) had pitched in the past and he honestly did a great job and ate up some really good innings for us and we’re going to use him as a pitcher going forward. The other guys were able to fill in and throw strikes.’’
Even with all that, the Locos (13-8) stand in first place in the Northern Division of the Great Lakes Collegiate League. St. Clair is 13-10.
St. Clair scored five in the third and added two more in the fourth to take a 7-2 lead.
Heading into the fifth inning, the Locos had to save pitching and went with four everyday players on the mound to finish up. They were center fielder Mark Castelblanco, who pitched well in two of his three innings, catcher Christian Waltman, outfielder Judd Ward and infielder Tyler Anshaw.
St. Clair’s Harrison Jones went 3 for 5 with a home run and two RBI to provide the bulk of the damage in the Green Giants’ 12-hit attack.
Locos first baseman Cade Beloso continues to hit, as he went 2 for 5 with two RBI.
St. Clair put up a five spot in the third, with four of the five runs being unearned.
Locos starter Brison Finney (Kennesaw State) breezed through the first two innings. But he gave up a leadoff double to Alex Crump to start the third.
Finney then walked Miguel Cienfuegos and Carter Mossey to load the bases.
Gibson Krzeminski’s RBI groundout back to the mound gave St. Clair a 1-0 lead.
Gavin Homer hit a grounder to short that the Locos shortstop couldn’t corral. Two unearned runs scored and it was 3-0 St. Clair.
Jones then hit a two-run home run to left and the Green Giants had a 5-0 lead in the third.
The Locos got within 5-2 in the home third. Jess Davis and Michael Diffley both scored from third on a wild pitch.
Finney went three innings for Lima. He gave up five runs, one earned, on two hits. He struck out two and walked three.
St. Clair added two more runs in the fourth to push out to a 7-2 lead.
Those came off Locos starter Tyler Miller, who pitched the fourth inning as a side session and will be back in the starting rotation.
With the bullpen nearly tapped out, the Locos then went to the everyday players to pitch.
“We really only had one fresh bullpen arm today, Jordan Marks, and I wanted to save him for tomorrow for a closer game,” Gaynor said. “We only have four or five relievers now and they’ve all been working a lot.’’
St. Clair scored one in the fifth and four in the seventh to balloon the lead to 12-2.
The Locos scored three in the seventh to get within 12-5.
Beloso had a two-run double and Brad Croy added an RBI single.
As the Locos look ahead, they hope to add a few arms.
“We’re trying, but it’s hard to get pitchers come in July,” Gaynor said. “We do have Adam Biss, who pitched once for us this year, and he’s going to come and throw for us Sunday. We definitely need some more help with pitching and we’re going to try to find some guys.’’
Locos notes: The Locos will play a 5 p.m. doubleheader today against Hamilton at Simmons Field. The team is off Friday and Saturday and will play a 5 p.m. doubleheader against Richmond Sunday at Simmons Field.
Locos right-hander Trent Vietemier (LSU) was hit on his right hand on a shot back to the mound in a game at Southern Ohio over the weekend. He went home to Pittsburgh, Pa., to get his hand examined.
Lefty Tanner Hall (Mercer) is eighth in the league in ERA at 2.35. Lefty A.G. Ayala (Texas A&M/Corpus Christi) is 10th at 2.55.
The Locos are scoring 7.1 runs-per-game and are giving up 5.3. … The Locos have gotten 10 or more hits in a game 12 times in 20 games.
The Locos rank second in the league in hitting (.286) and are fourth in ERA (4.83).
Reach The Lima News sports department at 567-242-0451.