CELINA — One game was all it took to have everyone introduced to the new extra-inning rules.
Starting in the 11th inning, Grand Lake and the Lima Locos both started off with a runner at second base.
In the end, the Locos couldn’t get their “gift runner” home, while Grand Lake did.
Grand Lake notched a 6-5, 11-inning victory over the Locos Tuesday at Montgomery Field.
“I thought we played pretty well,” Locos coach Matt Furuto said. “The pitchers did pretty decent, but I think they can do a lot better. … And they (the Mariners) had a lot of two-out RBIs, which win ballgames.’’
The back-and-forth game was opening night in the Great Lakes Collegiate League.
According to GLCL extra-inning rules this season, both teams play the 10th inning as normal.
But in the 11th, both teams start out with a runner at second. And all GLCL games are limited to 12 innings this season to save pitching.
The Locos started the 11th with Tyler Tolve at second. He was bunted to third by Trevor Hatton. Nick Colina was walked intentionally and stole second to put runners at second third with two outs.
But the Locos couldn’t get the run across.
In the Mariners’ home 11th, Will David started the inning at second.
The Locos intentionally walked Cole Kiddy to set up a force.
Thomas Eitniear bunted to the mound and Locos reliever Kyler Seeman went to third with his throw, but David was safe at third.
That loaded the bases with no outs.
Sean Dixson hit grounder to third, which the Locos third baseman handled, stepped on third and threw to first. The runner was safe at first and David sprinted home with the game-winning run to give the Mariners a 6-5 win.
“It turned out in our favor,” Dixson said. “It was a good win. We played hard the whole game. I knew the first pitch I saw I was going to try to hit it hard and it worked out.”
Dixson said it was his first time playing the international rule of starting an inning with a runner at second base.
“It’s different,” he said. “I’ve never played it, but it worked out for our benefit tonight.’’
Grand Lake coach Damon Haecker said of the new GLCL rule, “It’s tough, but it definitely helps bullpen-wise throughout the summer, especially with some guys coming from colleges on pitch counts. It comes with a lot of strategy and the home team definitely gets an advantage.’’
The rule was put in by the teams to save pitching, as the GLCL plays single games Tuesday through Sunday.
“A lot of these pitchers if they throw 40 pitches, you’re done until Thursday (after a Tuesday appearance),” Haecker said. “Some guys are going to be limited and right now we’re missing a couple guys on our roster. Going forward, I see the purpose in the rule. I like it, personally. It’s going to save arms down the road.’’
Added Furuto said, “It definitely plays a little bit different and there’s a little more strategy. I thought we played it right, it just didn’t go our way this time.’’
For the Locos, Tolve went 2 for 6 with a double.
Colina was 3 for 3 with two RBI and three walks. Ryan Smith was 2 for 5 with a double.
Zach Sweet went 3 for 5.
Dixson was 2 for 4 with three RBI for Grand Lake.
Logan Adams went 3 for 4 with two doubles for the Mariners.
Both teams came out swinging and it was hard to tell that Grand Lake and the Lima Locos had been off several weeks since their college seasons ended.
The Locos ran out to a 4-0 lead in the second, but Grand Lake chipped away with two in the second, one in the fourth and one in the fifth.
That tied the game at 4 after five innings.
Lima loaded the bases in the first on a double by Tolve and two walks, but wasn’t able to push across a run.
Then, in the second, Locos’ Ryan Smith opened with a double. Sweet singled to put runners on the corners.
Smith and Sweet then pulled off a double steal, with Smith scoring from third to give the Locos a 1-0 lead.
Sweet later scored from third on a wild pitch and it was 2-0.
Jacob Pennington’s RBI fielder’s choice gave the Locos a 3-0 lead. Colina followed with an RBI single and it was 4-0.
Grand Lake scored two in the home second off Locos starter Jacob Lewis (UNOH).
With the bases loaded, Lewis hit Dixson with a pitch to bring the Mariners within 4-1.
Lewis then walked Jared Burick with the bases still loaded and it the Mariners cut the Locos lead to 4-2.
Grand Lake added another run in the fourth to get within 4-3 off Locos reliever lefty Adam Biss.
Mariners leadoff hitter Dixson singled, stole second and came home on and RBI double to right-center field by Larry Sims.
Grand Lake evened the game up at 4 in the fifth on an RBI single to right by Adams.
The Locos took a 5-4 lead in the top of the seventh.
Hatton tripled off the right-field fence. He came home on an RBI single to center by Colina.
Once again, back came Grand Lake in the home seventh.
Dixson’s RBI single to center tied the game at 5.
Lewis worked the first three innings for the Locos. He gave up two runs, both earned, on two hits. He struck out three and walked four.
Lewis threw 68 pitches, 32 for strikes.
Mariners starter Josh Currier went 4 1/3 innings and gave up four runs, all earned, on five hits. He struck out two and walked five.
Seeman took the tough loss for the Locos. He struck out five in 2 1/3 innings, giving up one run, unearned, on no hits. The “gift runner” is ruled an unearned run.
“He (Seeman) was really good and I think he’s going to be really good for us in the back end (of the bullpen),” Furuto said. “I think his breaking ball is pretty nasty.’’
David tossed two shutout, no-hit innings with one strikeout for the win.
Locos notes: The Locos’ home opener in the Great Lakes Collegiate is 7 p.m. tonight against Grand Lake at Simmons Field. The Locos wrap up the three-game series with Grand Lake at 7 p.m. Thursday at Grand Lake’s Montgomery Field.
Muskegon will come to Simmons Field on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The Friday and Saturday games will start at 7, while it is a 5 p.m. start on Sunday.
The Locos will start Erik Key (Lamar) the home opener tonight.
The Locos have two players from northwest Ohio on the team, outfielder Don Goodes (VMI/Wapakoneta) and pitcher Kyler Seeman (UNOH/Patrick Henry). Seeman pitched for Saginaw in the GLCL last year.
The only returning player from last year is pitcher Adam Biss (Emmanuel), from Grand Rapids, Mich.
Saginaw and Irish Hills both dropped out of the league this year.
There are six teams in the Northern Division and six teams in the Southern Division. Joining the Locos in the North are the Grand Lake Mariners, the Michigan Monarchs, the Galion Graders, the Muskegon Clippers and the St. Clair Green Giants, from Windsor, Ontario.
In the Southern Division of the GLCL are the Cincinnati Steam, the Hamilton Joes, the Licking County Settlers, defending champion Southern Ohio Copperheads, the Xenia Scouts and the Richmond Jazz.
Reach The Lima News sports department at 567-242-0451.