LIMA – St. Clair came down from Canada hoping to close the gap on the hot-hitting Locos.
But on Tuesday, the Green Giants weren’t able to gain any ground.
In a key series in the North Division, the Lima Locos held off St. Clair 7-5 at Simmons Field.
The Locos stand atop the North Division of the Great Lakes Collegiate League at 15-8. The Locos have won six of their last seven games.
St. Clair (Windsor, Ontario) is in second place in the North, 2 1/2 games back at 11-9.
St. Clair came back at the end with a four-run ninth to get within 7-5.
“We have to fight like there’s no tomorrow, no matter who comes in here,” Locos first baseman Colton Frank said.
The Locos led 7-1 entering the ninth.
But suddenly Locos reliever Peyton Berry walked two and hit a batter to load the bases with two outs.
St. Clair’s Carter Mossey lifted a fly ball to center, but Locos center fielder Nick Colina completely lost the ball in the lights. The ball dropped for a two-run single and it was 7-3 Locos.
“It was a tough sky at the very end,” Locos coach Matt Furuto said. “It was just a bad break and it extended the inning and gave them an extra boost to keep going. But Peyton (Berry) found a way to finish it.’’
St. Clair then added RBI singles by Jayden Wakeham and Alex Crump and the Green Giants were within 7-5.
Jayen Sinju then flied out to left to give the Locos the victory.
Lima led 2-0 after three and 3-0 after four. A three-run eighth gave the Locos a 7-1 lead after eight.
Locos starter right-hander Cole Reeves (Dallas Baptist) has made three starts for the Locos and stands 2-0 with a 0.43 ERA. Tuesday was his first start at home.
Reeves continued his strong summer with five shutout innings. He gave up two hits, walked two and struck out six.
“It was definitely cool (at home),” Reeves said. “We have a good fan base. It’s (my mentality) is always the same, just pound the strike zone.’’
Reeves, who was throwing 91-92 mph with a dancing change-up, threw 78 pitches, 47 for strikes.
“He’s got a great fastball, but he can also mix a little bit, which makes his fastball even harder,” Furuto said. “He’s got a great arm.’’
Added Reeves, “The fastball always comes good out of my hands. … It rises a little bit to come up and in to right-handed batters. I tried to work a little bit of a slider, change-up to keep the hitters off balance.’’
The Locos knocked out 12 hits with Tyler Tolve going 3 for 4 with an RBI.
Frank was 2 for 4 with a double, a home run and one RBI.
Ryan Smith was 2 for 4 with a triple and an RBI.
Tim Martin was 2 for 4 with a double and an RBI. Randon Jernigan had a two-run double.
The Locos went out to a 2-0 lead in the home third.
Martin singled and stole second. Zach Sweet singled and Jernigan walked to load the bases.
Colina’s sacrifice fly to center scored Martin to give the Locos a 1-0 lead.
Tolve’s RBI single to left gave the Locos a 2-0 lead.
The Locos made it 3-0 in the home fourth when Frank lined a solo home run off the scoreboard, just beyond the left-center field fence.
“It was a 1-1 count and I got a fastball,” Frank said. “It felt good. When I heard it (hit the scoreboard), I said, ‘wow.’ That’s crazy.’’
St. Clair pushed across an unearned run in the sixth to get within 3-1.
In the home seventh, Tolve singled, his third hit of the day, and came home on an RBI triple to the right-center field fence by Smith.
That gave the Locos a 4-1 lead after seven.
The Locos tacked on three in the eighth to make it 7-1. Jernigan had a two-run double to push the lead to 7-1.
The Locos’ Zach Brown threw two innings of relief, giving up one unearned run. He struck out four and walked two.
Locos notes: The Locos continue the three-game home series with St. Clair at 7 p.m. today and 6 p.m. on the Fourth of July.
The Locos were coming off an 18-4 victory at Southern Ohio on Sunday. Locos catcher Tyler Tolve went 5 for 6 with a home run and a Locos’ record nine RBI. With the nine RBI, Tolve was second in the league with 28 RBI.
Locos shortstop Ryan Smith returned from his quad injury to play Saturday and Sunday at Southern Ohio.
Former Locos head coach Dan Furuto is in town this week to watch his brother Matt coach the Locos. Dan is an assistant coach at Abilene Christian.
Locos infielder Alexei Cazarin (Abilene Christian) suffered a broken bone in his hand Saturday at Southern Ohio and will be out for the summer. He was planning to head home today.
Catcher Tyson Scheumann, who will transfer from Wasbash Valley to UNOH in the fall, shut it down for the summer after trying to come back from knee surgery.
Through 22 games, the Locos led the league in hitting (.310), runs (170) and hits (236). They are second in doubles (40). The Locos were third in ERA at 3.24.