LIMA – The Lima Locos were in the midst of a big sixth inning, when the lights went out with a quick flash.
It took 39 minutes, but when the lights went back on, Locos reliever Jacob Pennington picked up right where he left off when all went dark.
The Locos scored four in the sixth and went on to post a 9-6 victory over Muskegon in Game 1 of the best-of-three semifinal series in the Great Lakes Collegiate League playoffs Thursday at Simmons Field.
Game 2 in the semifinal series will be at 7 p.m. today at Muskegon.
Game 3, if necessary, will be at 7 p.m. Saturday at Simmons Field.
Both teams endured a 39-minute delay when an electrician was called to get the lights back on at Simmons Field.
The Locos’ four-run sixth just before the delay gave the Locos the lead to stay 9-5.
Pennington (Murray State) did the rest.
He came on in the third and threw shutout ball all way until he tired in the ninth before giving up a run.
Pennington went 6 2/3 innings of relief for the victory, giving up one run on four hits. He struck out 11 and walked two.
“You can’t say enough about that outing,” Locos coach Matt Furuto said. “To do that and hold us in that game was incredible. … He was locked in. His mentality was throwing strikes and challenging with multiple pitches.’’
Pennington, an infielder/pitcher, threw 102 pitches, 64 for strikes.
“I was throwing a normal two-seamer (fastball),” Pennington said. “I started throwing it senior year in high school and I stuck with it. … I was able to change the hitter’s eye level. I was able to go high and outside, then I’d try to bust them low and in.’’
Jared Rine came in with two on in the ninth to get the final out and notched the save.
Pennington played mostly infield the first half the summer, but was used more on the mound late in the season.
“He’s been wanting to pitch,” Furuto said. “When we started needing more arms, he stepped up and when we saw him pitch, we really liked him.’’
Locos catcher Tyler Tolve did what he does best, he drove in runs.
Tolve, who set the GLCL RBI record this year with 53, roped a two-run double to center-field fence to break up a 5-5 tie in the sixth and give the Locos a 7-5 lead.
“It was the first pitch and I was looking for something up over the plate and I found something I could get a good drive on,” Tolve said.
Ryan Smith followed with an RBI single and the Locos led 8-5 in the sixth.
Zach Sweet added an RBI single to right to give the Locos a 9-5 lead just before the lights went out in the sixth.
That helped wipe away Muskegon early leads of 3-0 and 5-2.
Muskegon went to a 3-0 lead in the first.
The Locos came back with two in the home second to get within 3-2.
Muskegon tacked on two more in the third to pull out to a 5-2 lead.
Muskegon put Locos starter Jacob Lewis in trouble in the second.
Cooper Peterson was hit with a Lewis pitch. Shane Easter singled and Noah Hecht walked to load the bases.
With one out, Austin Eifrid lined a two-run single to center and the Clippers had a 2-0 lead. Jimmy Allen’s sacrifice fly to deep center gave Muskegon a 3-0 lead.
In the home second, Xavier Haendiges lined an RBI single to right to bring the Locos within 3-1. Randon Jernigan’s parachute RBI parachute double to center cut the Clippers’ lead to 3-2 after two.
Muskegon loaded the bases with no outs for the second straight inning in the third against Lewis. When Lewis walked Easter to bring in a run and make it 4-2, the night was over for Lewis.
Pennington came on and got a double-play grounder off the bat of Hecht. A run scored on the double play and it was 5-2 Clippers in the third.
“Our coach at Murray State always says, ‘attack the hitters and let it ride from there,’ ’’ Pennington said.
The Locos’ Trevor Hatton lined an RBI double to right-center field to make it 5-3 Clippers.
The Locos tied the game at 5 in the home fifth. Hatton had an RBI single, his second RBI of the game, to get the Locos within 5-4.
Colton Frank walked with the bags loaded and it was 5-5 after five.
Locos starter Lewis (UNOH) didn’t have his regular-season command. He went two innings and gave up five runs, all earned, on six hits. He struck out one and walked two.
“He never got a good feel and he was always behind,” Furuto said.
Muskegon starter Bryce Davis (Toledo) went 4 2/3 innings and gave up five runs, all earned, on four hits. He struck out five and walked eight.
For the Locos, Jernigan went 2 for 3 with a double and two stolen bases. Tolve had the two-run double.
Hatton went 2 for 4 with a double and two RBI.
It was another night of the Locos scoring nine runs after averaging 7.5 per-game during the season.
“This lineup’s a lot of fun,” Tolve said. “We have a lot of different ways we can score. We can run, we can hit for power, we can steal bases, we can play small-ball well. We do it all.’’
Locos notes: Locos catcher Tyler Tolve was named the GLCL player of the year and the prospect of the year. Tolve hit .338 and set the GLCL record with 53 RBI. He was also fourth in the league in hits (50) and fifth in runs (36).
Named to the GLCL second team were the following: Randon Jernigan, Nick Colina, Trevor Hatton, Kevin Miranda and Jared Rine. Jacob Lewis was named honorable mention.
Locos coach Matt Furuto was named GLCL manager of the year.
Kevin Miranda is scheduled to start Game 2 today at Muskegon.
The Locos led the league in hitting (.296), runs (307) and hits (417). The .296 average was just shy of the team record of .297 set in 1991.
The Locos were sixth in ERA at 3.72.
Two of the three Locos pitchers signed in the final week won’t be available for the playoffs. Manny Vorhees (Ohio Dominican/Wapakoneta) has a sore right arm and Josh Harris (Illinois) didn’t report to Lima.
Reach The Lima News sports department at 567-242-0451.