LIMA – Grand Lake still has a lot to play for in the final week and it showed.
The Mariners knocked the Lima Locos around for the second straight night.
Grand Lake knocked out 18 hits and posted an 11-6 victory over the Locos on hot, muggy, 94-degree Saturday at Simmons Field.
The game was delayed one hour and 21 minutes because the umpires weren’t aware the starting time had been changed to 4 p.m.
Locos coach Matt Furuto said his team didn’t respond well to the delay.
“It’s a mental game and you have to stay focused,” Furuto said. “And they responded better than we did. You can’t make excuses.’’
The Locos (25-13), who have won the North Division, have three road games left before the playoffs.
“We haven’t played the game well (the last two nights against Grand Lake),” Furuto said. “Yesterday was a tough day, offensively. Today it was a tough day pitching. We haven’t executed well and haven’t competed.
Give them some credit. They played hard and had 18 hits today.’’
Grand Lake (18-20) is two games behind second-place Muskegon (20-18) and Michigan (20-18) for the final playoff spot in the North.
All three teams have three games to play.
“We need some help for the playoffs, but the last two games our guys and really hit the ball well,” Grand Lake coach Damon Haecker said. “On the mound, other than a few innings, we threw the ball in the zone and we played defense pretty well. And we had timely hitting again tonight after last night (a 7-1 win over Lima).’’
Grand Lake took two of the three games in this week’s series and ended up 3-3 on the year with the Locos.
By clinching the North title, the Locos will host Game 1 and Game 3, if necessary, in the best-of-three Great Lakes Collegiate League semifinal playoffs.
Game 1 is set for 7 p.m. Thursday at Simmons Field against the second-place team in the North, which hasn’t been determined.
“I think it’s the long season wearing on us,” Locos Tyler Tolve said. “But we’ll lock it back in and finish strong.’’
On Saturday, Grand Lake scored in every inning but the sixth and the ninth.
It scored two in the first, two in the third and tacked on three in the eighth.
The Mariners led 5-0 after their third inning and they were on their way.
Grand Lake’s Carson Eddy went 3 for 5. Jack Gallaher was 3 for 5 with two RBI.
Logan Adams went 3 for 4 with two RBI.
Luke Vonderhaar (Ohio State/New Bremen) was 3 for 4 with two RBI.
Mariners starter lefty Josh Currier went six innings for the win. He gave up four runs, all earned, on 10 hits. He struck out five and walked three.
“Currier’s been awesome this summer,” Hecker said. “This summer he has the most innings for us and has thrown strikes. His change-up has played well.’’
Adams had the big hit in the first for the Mariners’ with bases-loaded, two-run single to center.
The Mariners made it 3-0 in the second when Donald Stone hit a sacrifice fly to center.
In the third, Grand Lake’s Vonderhaar had an RBI single. Layne Riley also had an RBI single in third and the Mariners’ lead grew to 5-0.
The Locos got back in the game with a three-run third to get with 5-3.
In the home third, Tolve drove his league-leading 48th RBI of the year with an RBI single. Nick Colina and Xavier Haendiges also added RBI singles in the third.
Vonderhaar’s second RBI single of the day gave the Mariners a 6-3 lead in the fourth.
Lima chipped the margin to 6-4 in the fourth on an RBI single by Randon Jernigan, his third hit of the game.
Grand Lake added a run in the sixth and one in the eighth and the lead mushroomed to 8-4.
The Locos came back with two runs of their own in the home seventh to get within 8-6.
Grand Lake just kept coming, with three more in the eight to take an 11-6 lead.
Locos closer Jared Rine was getting some work in and started Saturday’s game.
But he wasn’t his usually sharp self and struggled locating his breaking ball.
Rine went 2 1/3 innings and gave up five runs, all earned, on six hits. He struck out two and walked three.
Rine threw 75 pitches, 43 for strikes.
For the Locos, who had 11 hits, Jernigan went 3 for 5. Tolve was 2 for 4.
Colina went 2 for 5.
Furuto wants his team to re-focus for the final three games.
“In a sense it’s good for us to see some adversity to remind us we have to come focused and play hard each day,” Furuto said. “We have to get back to who we are because we are a good team. We should be playing with a lot of confidence, but the last two days we haven’t played baseball well.’’
Locos notes: The Locos wrap up their regular season with a three-game series at Muskegon, Mich. The first game is 7 p.m. Sunday.
After 37 games, Locos catcher Tyler Tolve led the league in RBI with a Locos team-record of 47. He broke Anthony Patellis’ RBI record of 44 set in 1994.
Kevin Miranda (5-0) was tied for the league lead in wins. … Jared Rine, who has been the team’s closer most of the year, ranked fourth in strikeouts with 45.
After 37 games, the Locos led the league in batting average (.300), runs 285 (7.7 per game) and hits (381). They ranked second in doubles (68) and third in home runs (25). … With the .300 team batting average, the Locos have a chance to break the team record of .297 set in 1991. The 2015 team hit .296.
The Locos also led the league in ERA at 3.32.
Reach The Lima News sports department at 567-242-0468.