On a rare nice evening this summer in Ohio, the Galion Graders gave their home fans at James D. Heddleson Field at Heise Park a strong performance, sweeping the Northern Ohio Baseball Club in a Wednesday doubleheader.
The Graders took the first game 7-5 in seven innings before winning the second 6-5 in the full nine frames to improve to 10-16 on the year.
Both contests followed the same pattern, as the Graders fell into a hole in the first inning, battled back to take the lead and then were able to hold on in the waning innings to claim the decision.
Players and coaches on the Galion team weren’t just happy to pick up a pair of much-needed wins, but were also thrilled to simply get two games in, as the weather has not been cooperative in recent weeks.
“It’s frustrating because you’d like to get on a five-day schedule and guys get bumped back,” said pitching coach Taylore Baker.
That rust was apparent when the first game opened, as Northern Ohio scored three times in the top of the first off starter Josh Peterson thanks to a pair of errors in the field. However, Peterson would respond by not being touched again until the fifth frame.
Galion picked up two runs in the third and one more in the fourth to tie the score before running into trouble in the fifth.
Fortunately for the Graders, reliever Brody Basilone was able to come in and stop the bleeding before no more than one run had scored for the visitors.
“Brody has been lights-out,” said Baker. “We trust him late in games.”
The team’s offense then responded with a two-run double by Crestline’s Austin Adams to take the lead at 5-4. They added two more in the sixth to take a three-run lead and then held on for the win.
History repeated itself in the second game, as Galion starting pitcher Trent Downs issued three walks in the first inning, which led to a pair of runs scoring, giving Northern Ohio a 2-0 lead.
However, much like the first game, Downs settled down after that slow start, only scattering a double and three singles through the next four innings, while striking out six.
The Graders struck for four runs in the third inning thanks to some Northern Ohio miscues, combined with timely hitting. A single by Aaron Caputo was followed by a walk issued to Brandon Wright and a passed ball to put runners on second and third with one out. Nick Riotto followed with an RBI single to make it 2-1 with runners on the corners.
Two more runs came in via bizarre ways during Kevin Shrock’s at bat. First, on a stolen base attempt by Riotto, the throw to second went wild, allowing Wright to score. Shrock would then strike out, but the pitch got away from the Northern Ohio catcher, allowing him to reach first base and Riotto to score from second to give the Graders a 3-2 lead.
Shrock would advance all the way to third on the play and would then score on a groundout by Colton Carney to put the home team up by two.
Galion would add a run in the sixth inning to take a 5-2 lead. Both teams then scored in the eighth before things got tense in the top of the ninth, as Northern Ohio scored twice and had the tying run on third base with only one out before reliever Ben Hamilton was able to work out of the jam with a strikeout and groundout to end the game.
That was the second bit of trouble Hamilton was able to escape in the game. He entered in the eighth inning with the bases loaded and two outs and was able to get the team out of that situation while only giving up one run.
“Ben did a good job coming into a bases-loaded jam,” said Baker.
Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS