LIMA — It all comes down to one game for the title.
The Lima Locos used strong pitching and a key homer to knock off Hamilton 5-3 in Game 2 of the best-of-three championship series Friday at Simmons Field.
The best-of-three Great Lakes Collegiate League championship series is tied at 1.
Game 3 will be at 7 tonight at Lima’s Simmons Field to decide the championship.
In the home fifth, with the game tied at 2, the Locos’ Trevor Rider walked and Darryl Buggs powered a two-run home run to left to provide the Locos with a 4-2 lead.
It was Buggs’ second home run of the summer.
“I had two strikes on me and didn’t try to do too much,” Buggs said. “Honestly, it was new to me. I hardly ever hit home runs. After I hit it, I said, ‘That’s a fly out again.’ Then, I thought it might have a chance to get out. That guy is still running back.
“It would mean everything to us to win this championship.’’
Locos starter Dylan Freeman (Montevallo), the league ERA champion at 1.68, threw seven strong innings with his 88 mph fastball and 76 mph big breaking ball. He gave up three runs, none earned, on five hits. He struck out five and walked three.
Freeman threw 99 pitches, 59 for strikes.
“I saved the best for last,” Freeman said. “It was a good season ender. My slurve was working really well.’’
Freeman has started, closed and filled every role in exceptional fashion all year.
“Whatever the team wanted me to do, I was just there to do it,” Freeman said. “The summer has been one to remember. It would be awesome to bring home the title.’’
Locos coach Matt Furuto said, “He’s (Freeman) a bulldog on the mound and he wants it. Any time he’s out there, he’s going to be competitive. He’s been awesome all summer.’’
Jonathan Machamer (Dayton) came on and pitched the final two shutout innings, with four strikeouts for the save.
The Locos took a 2-0 lead in the home second on Nate White’s RBI single.
Rider’s RBI single to center gave the Locos a 2-0 lead.
Hamilton got within 2-1 in the third with an unearned run.
The Joes tied the game at 2 in the third on a second unearned run. John San Jule reached on a fielder’s choice grounder. San Jule stole second and scored on Logan Castelman’s single and an error on the Locos left fielder.
In the sixth, the Joes’ Leighton Banjoff doubled to center and went to third on a passed ball.
Luke Arnold hit a shot to left that Locos left fielder T.J. Reeves went back and made a leaping grab over the fence. The catch yielded a run on the sacrifice fly, to make it 4-3 Locos, but saved a run.
“It stuck up in the air just a little bit and he was able to make the catch,” Furuto said.
The Locos pushed the lead to 5-3 in the seventh when Buggs walked with the bags loaded.
Hamilton starter lefty Bryce Smith (Northern Kentucky), who led the league in wins with eight, threw a heavy diet of breaking balls. Smith went 6 2/3 innings and gave up five runs, all earned, on five hits. He struck out two and walked six.
Locos notes: The Locos will start Kyle Moseley (Angelo State) in Game 3 today.
Hamilton led the league in ERA at 3.93. The Locos ranked third at 4.51. The Locos led the league in hitting at .292. Hamilton ranked fifth at .273.
Hamilton has won two GLCL titles, in 2010 and 2016.