GALION — For the second night in a row on Wednesday, the Galion Graders hosted the Hamilton Joes in Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League action at Heddleson Field in Heise Park. For the second night in a row, Braxton Giavedoni provided the hit necessary to give the Graders a walk-off victory.
Galion defeated Hamilton on Wednesday by a final tally of 7-6. With this victory, the Graders improved to 8-7 overall and the Joes dropped to 4-10 on the season.
The contest started out looking bleak for Galion as Brody Basilone gave up a lead-off home run to the Joes Evan Bell after falling behind 2-0 in the count. Basilone would settle down however and would retire the side, two of those hitters by way of the strike out. Down 1-0 early, the Graders lead-off hitter, Brandt Nowaskie stepped to the plate and delivered a double which was then followed by a Matt Noel single. Austin Hathaway went down swinging, bringing up Giavedoni. Giavedoni hit a ground ball in the infield that would score Nowaskie from third while Noel was thrown out at second on the fielder’s choice. After two stolen bases, Giavedoni was stranded at third after a Matthew Freeman walk and a Sam Stewart strike out.
With the scored knotted up at one run apiece, both the Graders and the Joes’ bats were fairly silent from the second through the fourth innings. In that particular time frame, each team recorded just one hit apiece in the third while also notching an error apiece. Hathaway had an infield single in the third frame and would advance all the way to third base on a wild pick-off attempt at first. In that third inning, Galion and Hamilton stranded runners just 90 feet from home plate.
In the top of the fifth, things were still going smoothly for Basilone on the mound. A strike out swinging, followed by a strike out looking, Basilone found himself with a quick two outs in the frame. Hamilton then delivered back-to-back singles to begin a two-out rally. An error by Jake Hoover, Galion’s shortstop, allowed the Joes second run to score before a flyout to Freeman at first thwarted any further damage. Zach Mottice led-off the Graders fifth with a single but would be eliminated from the base path on a Brady Hettinger fielder’s choice. Hettinger would remain at first base after flyouts by Nowaskie and Noel.
Hamilton’s biggest inning came in the top of the sixth and started with a Freeman error at first. A routine ground ball caused havoc when it came to covering first base and a runner was aboard. After a single put runners at first and second, Ryan Crockett drove in the runner from second on an RBI double. After Basilone recorded the first out of the inning via strike out, Genesis Hillard belted a two-run single for the Joes to clear the bases. Hillard would steal second and advance to third on a Hoover error but the Joes would leave runners at the corners. Galion was unable to answer in the bottom of the sixth, going down in order and trailing 5-1.
Jordan Peck took over responsibilities on the mound for the Graders to start the seventh. The Joes would tack on another run to take a commanding 6-1 lead entering the home half of the seventh inning. Galion would, despite substitutions of Josh Kent and Joe Crank as pinch hitters, be retired in order again.
The Joes couldn’t get anything going in the eight either and after a sloppy bit of baseball, the Graders were finally able to put another run on the board when Hettinger scored in the bottom of the inning. With Galion now trailing 6-2, the teams headed into the final inning.
With a comfortable four-run lead, the Joes came to bat and would eventually load the bases, only to leave them that way. Galion, possibly down to their final three outs, stepped to the dish in the bottom of the ninth with hopes of repeating the ways of Tuesday night’s walk-off against Hamilton.
Jarett Smetana came on to hit for Freeman and trotted down to first base after a four-pitch walk to start the inning. After a Kent strike out for out number one, Crank would walk to put runners at first and second for the Graders. Control issues continued for Hamilton’s Wes Rickenberg as he then proceeded to hit Mottice with a pitch to load the bases. Hettinger delivered a single to score Smetana and move everyone up a base before Rickenberg was replaced by Tyler Walton. Nowaskie was then hit by a pitch to score Crank from third and put the score at 6-4 in favor of the Joes with Galion threatening with the bases loaded and just one out. Noel would then step to the plate and deliver a two-run single to tie the game up at six apiece. Hathaway would fly out to the short stop which would send up Giavedoni to the plate; two outs, bottom of the ninth and the winning run 90 feet away. On a 1-0 count, Giavedoni blasted a single to left to score Nowaskie and complete the comeback and give the Graders the win.
Galion is back in action on Thursday June 29 at Heddleson field against the Licking County Settlers at 7:05 pm.