Locos advance to championship series

LIMA — Lima Locos head coach Chad Ehrnsberger realized it was not going to be an easy task to knock off North Division leader Muskegon.

But he also realized what his baseball team was capable of.

Friday night, the Locos pounded 10 base hits, en route to notching the second and decisive game of the three-game series of the North Division playoffs in the Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League at Simmons Field, defeating the Muskegon (Michigan) Clippers, 6-5.

The Locos will face the Xenia Scouts at 7:05 p.m. Saturday at Simmons Field in the first game of the three-game GLSCL championship series.

The Locos’ largest lead Friday was 6-1.

However, the Clippers battled back late in the game before the Locos finally closed the door for the hard-fought victory.

“We performed great. We beat an unbelievable team,” Ehrnsberger said. “That’s the best team by record in the history of the Great Lakes League. To beat them two games to nothing in the playoffs — I mean, you have to say that we played really well.

“This team (Muskegon), (with a) 33-5 (record); and we beat them two games to nothing in the playoffs. … That’s all you need to say about these guys in our dugout.”

The Locos jumped out to a 3-1 lead by the end of the first inning.

Lima sent nine batters to the plate in the first, which produced the three runs on three hits. Cade Belyeu (Auburn) had a double that drove in two of those runs.

The Locos scored two more runs in the home half of the third, on four hits. Anthony Zarlingo (Miami University) had a two-RBI single for Lima.

The Locos added their final run of the game, in the fourth. Landon Underhill (McLennan CC) had an RBI single for the Locos. For the game, Underhill was 2 for 4 at the plate.

Along with Underhill having a two-hit game for the Locos, Kolton Schaller (Kent State) and Jack Porter (Central Florida) each had two hits. Schaller had a triple, single and three walks on the night.

The Clippers made it interesting as they scored three runs in the sixth to cut the deficit to one run.

However, the Locos managed to hold off Muskegon down the stretch. Ehrnsberger credits his players for their mindset – not just against Muskegon, but all season long.

“I think it’s just the desire, the want, and the competitiveness of these guys,” Ehrnsberger said. “At the end of the (regular) season, those games didn’t really mean a whole lot, as far as the standings went. And you saw these guys turn it on. … It just clicked for them. I think that’s a big part of baseball – just having the right mindset. If you’re mentally tough, you can overcome a lot of things.”

Peyton Nelson (College of Charleston) got the starting nod on the pitching mound for the Locos.

Nelson worked 5 1/3 innings before being lifted. He scattered nine hits, while giving up four runs (three earned). The left-handed Nelson struck out two, walked three and hit a batter. He threw a total of 101 pitches, 63 for strikes.

Brandon Doehne (University of New Mexico) took over the pitching duties for the Locos in the sixth. Doehne worked 1 1/3 innings before giving way to Micah Takac (Mercer), who closed the game out for Lima.

Ehrnsberger feels confident about his team’s chances against Xenia in the upcoming three-game series.

“The message is to just go out there and play our game. I’ve been saying all summer that I love the talent on this team. I love these guys in the dugout. I think if we can come out and play our game, I think we’ll be all right,” Ehrnsberger said.

Game summary

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