With a quarter of the Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League season in the books, Galion Graders head coach Ray Neill took a moment to assess his team’s performance thus far. Neill said it’s a been a mix of good and not quite as good for the newest team in the league.
“I think everybody would agree we’re in that C+ category, probably,” Neill said after a 12-6 loss to the Hamilton Joes last Friday. “As the new guy on the block, I think we’ve held our own. We’ve let a couple of games get away from us.”
After the loss over the weekend, the Graders record is 4-7, leaving them 4.5 games behind co-leaders Southern Ohio (9-3) and Xenia (10-4). As a team, Galion is batting .231 and its pitching staff has an earned run average of 5.38. But after dropping its first four games of the season, Galion has rebounded to put together a 4-3 record in its last seven outings.
“Obviously, you always wish you were a little bit better, but we’re making progress,” Neill said. “One thing about this group of guys is they get along great as a team. Everybody’s pulling for everybody else. As long as that continues to happen, I think we’ll find that three-game winning streak and have a little more success in the win column.”
Neill said the addition of Nicholas Riotto was a spark for the Graders during their two wins last week over Northern Ohio and Hamilton. He went 2-for-5 in a 12-1 win against Northern Ohio on June 16. Riotto then went 1-for-3, scored twice and stole a base in the 6-0 win over Hamilton on June 18.
“He brings a lot of speed to the top of the order,” Neill said. “He’s that good defensively, also.”
In just three games, Riotto, a junior at Penn State who hails from Washington, Pa., has jumped to the top of the offensive leaderboard for the Graders, batting .364.
Perrysburg native Mark Delas, who plays at the Univ. of Toledo, is hitting .333 with five RBI and has scored seven runs. Univ. of Findlay sophomore Austin Adams, a Colonel Crawford High School alumnus, is hitting .333 with two RBI.
Outfielder Colton Carney has belted a team-high two home runs and nine RBI. He has also scored seven runs. Carney, who plays at Seton Hill University, is hitting .273.
Zach Gunter (Univ. of Charleston/Winfield, W.Va.) is hitting .286. Tyler Ocker (Univ. of Charleston/Newburg, Pa.) has eight RBI and J.T. Core (N. Dakota State/Cave Creek, Ariz.) has driven in five runs.
Brandon Wright (W.Va. State/Winfield, W.Va.), Alexander Malinsky (Penn State/Apex, N.C.) and Zach DeThomasis (Univ. of Akron/Rensselaer, N.Y.) have four RBI each. Jake Krupar (Univ. of Toledo/E. Sparta, Ohio) has a home run and three RBI to his credit.
Opening day starter Will Ore (W.Va. State/Vero Beach, Fla.) is 2-1 with a 2.45 ERA. He has 12 strikeouts and three walks in 14.2 innings.
Matt Sullivan (Lenoir-Rhyne Univ./Bristol, Va.) has worked a team-high 15.2 innings. He’s recorded 11 strikeouts and four walks with a 3.44 ERA.
Galion plays host to the Lima Locos (7-4) at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday at Heise Park’s James D. Heddleson Field. Installation of the new lights at the ballpark is still not complete. Team officials hope the project is finished by the end of this week.
The Graders travel to Lima on Wednesday, then head to Flat Rock, Mich., on Thursday to face the Lake Erie Monarchs (5-9). Galion will play host to Lake Erie on Friday.