GALION — After playing eight of their last nine games on the road, the Galion Graders returned home to Heddleson Field in Heise Park on Thursday, June 28 to host the visiting Hamilton Joes.
Unfortunately, the homecoming did not turn out in the Graders favor as they dropped the contest by a final score of 13-6. For the first time this season, Galion has lost consecutive games and drop to 9-6 with the defeat. Hamilton improves to 6-11 with the win in the error-ridden contest.
Things started out rocky for the Graders starting pitcher Eli Crall. In the top of the first inning, after recording one out, Galion saw runners advance via a hit by pitch, a double and a fielder’s choice to plate their first run. The Joes would strike again due to an error at third by Tyler Pavone and before Galion could blink, the visitors had put a four-spot up on the scoreboard.
Andrew Stone led-off the game by reaching first on a throwing error by Hamilton shortstop Justin McConnell. Stone would then proceed to swipe second, move to third on a wild throw from the Joes catcher and eventually score thanks to a pass ball tossed by Joes starting pitcher Donovan Thacker. That would be Galion’s only run in the frame and entering the second the home squad found themselves in a three-run deficit at 4-1.
Both offenses went quietly in the second inning, much to the dismay of the Graders. Galion would get two runners on in the likes of Vince Donato and Andrew Massey despite no official hits but both guys would be stranded on the bases with Donato in scoring position.
After holding the Hamilton offense scoreless in the top of the third, Stone was up first in the home half and delivered the team’s first hit of the game, a single to begin the mini rally. Christopher Jordan would reciprocate and notched a single of his own to put Graders at first and second with nobody out. Both Stone and Jordan would advance thanks to another pass ball by Thacker, with Stone scoring again. Juan De La Cruz grounded out to second for the first out of the inning to send up Austin Hathaway, who hit a shot to first base. Hamilton first baseman Griffin Doersching noticed Jordan breaking for home and delivered a strike to gun him down at home for the second out. Michael Rodriquez would record the third out of the inning with a long flyout to the warning track in right field.
The Joes were able to add a run in the top of the fourth to stretch their lead to 5-2 before Galion headed to the dish in the home half. Donato would reach thanks to a throwing error by Thacker and move over to second in the process. Yet another pass ball saw Donato taking third before scoring on a Jose De La Cruz single. Jordan would eventually get his second single of the contest to score De La Cruz, sending the game into the fifth with the Joes still ahead; 5-4. In the fifth, the Joes would see two more runs cross home plate, putting them ahead with a convincing lead of 7-4.
The offense for both squads hit a bit of a standstill again in the sixth and seventh innings, with Hamilton posting a single run in the top of the seventh to extend the lead to 8-4. In those two innings, Galion mustered just two singles, both coming in the sixth, from Jordan, his third of the contest, and Jose De La Cruz. The Graders went in order in the bottom of the seventh and saw their chances of a comeback dwindling.
In the top of the eighth, disaster would strike as relief pitcher Wyatt Larimer loaded the bases after hitting a batter and walking a pair while recording just one out. Hometown product Mac Spears entered the game but was unable to get out of the jam, allowing three runs to cross in the frame, all credited to Larimer and Galion headed into the bottom of the inning now trailing; 11-4. The Graders would be unable to mount any runs in the home half, sending the contest into the final inning with the Joes in full control.
Hamilton scored two additional runs in the ninth to distance themselves from their hosts further; 13-4. In the bottom of the ninth and down to their final three outs, Austin Hathaway was able to deliver a two-run home run, his third of the summer, but it would not be enough as the Graders fell to the Joes in game one of their two-game stint; 13-6.
Crall was handed the loss after starting the game and going 4⅓ innings, giving up seven runs (four earned) on five hits while recording three walks and four strikeouts. Gavin Lewis followed Crall, working the next 2⅔ innings. Lewis allowed a run on two hits while walking one and fanning one. Larimer recorded just ⅓ of an inning on the night, walking two, hitting a batter and surrendering three total runs. Spears wrapped the contest for Galion, going 1⅔ and scattering two hits en route to two earned runs while walking one and striking out one.
Offensive statistics for the Graders Thursday were: Team- 8/37 at bats; 6R, 4RBI, 4BB, 8K; Stone- 2-1B, 2R, SB; Jordan- 3-1B, R, RBI; Hathaway- HR, R, 2RBI; Donato- R and Jose De La Cruz- 2-1B, R, RBI.
In the field, there were seven total errors on the night; four of them from the Graders and three committed by the Hamilton Joes. Throughout the contest, Hamilton stranded nine total runners on base while Galion left eight chances to score on the base path.
The Graders and Joes will be back in action on Friday at 7:05 p.m. After a trip to Cincinnati for a clash with the Steam on Saturday, June 30, the Graders will return home to Heddleson on Sunday, July 1 for game two against the Cincinnati squad, also at 7:05 p.m.