LIMA — Locos hitter Brad Croy looked out to the mound and saw a familiar face in Cincinnati reliever Tanner Schimmoeller.
The pair went to Ottawa-Glandorf together.
Croy jumped on a fastball from Schimmoeller and came through with a key double in the two-run seventh in the Lima Locos’ 7-3 Thursday night victory against the Cincinnati Steam at Simmons Field.
On the down side of the night, Locos lefty A.G. Ayala (Texas A&M/Corpus Christi) started, but left with an injury after throwing a pitch in the sixth inning.
“After the first couple of innings, I started cruising, but I got tightness in my forearm,” Ayala said. “Hopefully, it’s nothing serious.’’
Ayala, who has made the All-Star team, went 5 2/3 innings and gave up three runs, two earned, on six hits. He struck out four and walked none. He threw 82 pitches, 58 for strikes.
“A.G. did an awesome job after those first two innings,” Locos coach Jared Gaynor said. “He started mixing up his offspeed, but once I saw him grabbing his arm a little bit, I didn’t want to take any chances. He wanted to stay in, but when it comes to your arm, I want to protect the kids. His arm and his future is more important than winning the game.’’
The Locos (18-10) entered Thursday in a first-place tie with St. Clair (18-11) in the Northern Division.
The Steam (21-8) stand atop the Southern Division.
The Steam took a 3-0 lead after two innings.
The Locos tied it with three in the fifth, then took a 5-3 lead in the seventh.
In the seventh, Cade Beloso singled and Croy doubled off Schimmoeller (Cincinnati).
“He’s been one of my good friends for a long time,” Croy said. “I got ahead in the count, so I expected a fastball and I hit it hard. … Then, he got me back, striking me out in the eighth.’’
With runners at second and third, John Privitera’s RBI groundout to second gave the Locos a 4-3 lead.
Croy came home on a wild pitch and it was 5-3 Locos.
Judd Ward’s solo home run gave the Locos a 6-3 lead in the eighth.
“That was huge,” Gaynor said. “It was great to see the bats wake up and come up with some big hits.’’
Jordan Marks relieved Ayala and picked up the win. Marks threw 2 1/3 shutout, no-hit innings. He struck out four and walked two.
Brison Finney threw a 1-2-3 ninth inning.
Cincinnati came in leading the league in hitting with a .308 batting average.
And the Steam showed why early with two quick runs.
Sebastian Fabik led off the game with a single. Will Vogelegesang followed by launching a two-run home run to left.
Two batters into the game and the Steam led 2-0.
The Steam made it 3-0 in the second on an RBI single by Fabik.
The Locos tied the game at 3 with a three-run fifth.
Michael Diffley had an RBI single to get the Locos within 3-1. Croy walked with the bases loaded to make it 3-2.
Tyler Simon grounded back to the mound with the bases loaded, but Steam reliever Jon Snyder threw wild to the plate to allow Diffley to come home and tie the game at 3.
Lefty Jonathan Brus (Dayton) started for the Steam. He went 4 1/3 innings and gave up three runs, two earned, on six hits. Brus had two strikeouts and two walks.
Locos All-Stars: A total of 10 Locos made the GLCL All-Star team, including seven starters. Starters named were catcher Daniel Seres (Kennesaw State), second baseman John Privitera (Missouri State), shortstop Tyler Simon (Kennesaw State), third baseman Michael Diffley (Arizona Christian), designated hitter Brad Croy (Bowling Green), outfielder Anthony Amicangelo (Johnson County CC) and pitcher Tanner Hall (Mercer).
Also named to the team were first baseman Cade Beloso (LSU) and pitchers Jordan Marks (South Carolina-Upstate) and A.G. Ayala (Texas A&M-Corpus Christi).
The All-Star Game is 7 p.m. Tuesday at Presco Park in Mason.
Locos notes: The Locos finish their two-game home series with Cincinnati at 7 tonight at Simmons Field. The Locos are at Grand Lake on Saturday (7 p.m.) and Sunday (4:30 p.m.) at Montgomery Field.
Locos right-hander Devin Smith (William Carey) will make his final appearance in a start at Grand Lake on Saturday. He is being shut down by his college coaches because of an innings limit. For the Locos in 16 innings, he’s 1-0 with two saves. His ERA is 2.25. At William Carey he threw 81 innings and was 7-4 with a 3.65 ERA.
The Locos rank fourth in the league in hitting (.283) and are fifth in ERA (5.05).
Right-hander Trent Vietmeier (LSU) has returned home to Pittsburgh with his right hand injury.
Center fielder Mark Castelblanco (Georgia Gwinnett) is sidelined with a hamstring injury.