LIMA — The Lima Locos will be home for at least one playoff game.
Mark Castelblanco and Malik Spratling took care of that Saturday.
Castelblanco picked up the win and had a home run in the Locos 6-2 victory over Grand Lake at Simmons Field.
Spratling (Gulf Coast CC) led the way on offense, going 2 for 4 with a double, home run and five RBI.
“We’re hosting the play-in game Tuesday,” Locos coach Jared Gaynor said. “We clinched it today. Tomorrow will be more of a fun day for us and we’ll throw some position players.’’
St. Clair (26-15) clinched the Northern Division title on Friday. The Green Giants have the tie-breaker over Lima, winning three of four during the regular season.
According to the Great Lakes Collegiate League, the Locos (25-16) clinched second place with a win Saturday.
Third-place Saginaw had a tie this summer, which counts as half a win and half a loss, which gave the Locos the edge over Saginaw for second.
The Locos will host the one-game, wild-card, play-in game at 7 p.m. Tuesday against Saginaw.
“That’s big (clinching the home game Tuesday) so we can save our arms tomorrow (at Grand Lake),” Gaynor said. “Everyone will be fresh and ready to go for Tuesday.’’
The wild-card winner moves on to the best-of-three semifinal series against St. Clair starting Wednesday at St. Clair.
Grand Lake (17-23) went out to a 1-0 lead off Castelblanco.
Castelblanco, normally the team’s center fielder, was making his fourth appearance and first start.
Castelblanco got in a groove early, throwing both his fastball and occasional breaking ball for strikes.
Castelblanco went five innings and gave up two runs, both earned, on six hits. He struck out four and walked one.
“I told the coach I was going to do my best and pitch until I was tired,” Castelblanco said. “Thank God I pitched really well. I got through the fifth inning.’’
Castelblanco threw 74 pitches, 48 for strikes.
“That was huge,” Gaynor said. “We needed him to fill in. We really didn’t have anyone who was totally fresh. Mark did a great job tonight. That’s exactly what we needed it.’’
Added Castelblanco, “The difference was I started the game and I was able to prepare my mind and my body before the game. I knew I was going to throw more pitches. I felt really good for three innings.’’
Castelblanco said he did pitch in relief in his first year of junior college. He recently finished his second year at Clarendon and will go to Georgia Gwinnett in the fall.
The Mariners’ Chris Meyers hit a two-out triple to right-center field in the first. Tyson Hays’ RBI single brought home Meyers and made it 1-0 Mariners.
The Locos took a 3-1 lead in the home first.
Anthony Amicangelo singled, Cade Beloso walked and Brad Croy put down a bunt single to load the bases.
Spratling rattled a three-run double down into the left-field corner to give the Locos a 3-1 lead.
“He’s going to be big down the stretch for us,” Gaynor said of Spratling.
In the fourth, Castelblanco launched a solo home run into the visitors bullpen in right to give the Locos a 4-1 lead.
Grand Lake got within 4-2 in the fifth on an RBI single by Blake Crossing.
Spratling continued on his offensive surge with a two-run home run to left in the fifth to give the Locos a 6-2 lead.
“It felt good off the bat,” Spratling said.
Jordan Marks came on and threw three shutout innings of relief, giving up two hits. He struck out four and walked none.
Brison Finney closed out the game with a shutout ninth.
Locos notes: The Locos close out the regular season at 4:30 p.m. today at Grand Lake’s Montgomery Field.
The Locos lost two starting infielders on the recent four-game road trip.
Third baseman Justin Wiley suffered a pulled hamstring Thursday at Muskegon and is sidelined.
Second baseman Michael Diffley (Arizona Christian) was hit with a pitch in the head Friday at St. Clair. He has a concussion, is out for the year and will head home today. Diffley was hitting .328 and was fourth in the league in runs with 36. He had nine doubles, two home runs and 25 RBI.
Locos lefty Tanner Hall (Mercer) ranks fourth in the league in strikeouts with 51. He’s also fifth in ERA (3.40).
Brad Croy (Bowling Green) ranks second in the league in hitting at .400.
Cade Beloso (LSU) ranks 11th in doubles with 11.
The Locos rank fourth in the league in hitting (.287), sixth in ERA (5.01) and third in fielding percentage (.965).
Reach The Lima News sports department at 567-242-0451.