Graders balk it off against Settlers

By Chad Clinger -

GALION — The Galion Graders were back at home at Heddleson Field in Heise Park on the first day of summer, Thursday, June 21. A familiar foe in the likes of the Licking County Settlers would be in town as Galion hosted their only home game over a 10-game road trip.

Licking County would strike first in the contest but it would be the hometown Graders emerging victorious, in a very uncommon way, by a final tally of 10-9. The victory moves Galion to 8-3 overall on the season while the Settlers drop to 2-8.

The game began quietly for both teams with Galion managing just a single in the home half from Michael Rodriquez, who would be left on the base path. In total for the contest, the Graders would have a bad habit of leaving potential runs on the bases, stranding 10 total throughout the contest with the Settlers missed out on potential scoring opportunities, stranding 11.

In the top of the second, the visitors would create a mini-rally when Casimer Sobaszek singled with one out and then stole second base. Cael Baker delivered his first of two RBI doubles to score Sobaszek and give the struggling Settlers the early 1-0 advantage. Galion’s bats remained quiet heading into the third.

After blanking Licking County in the top of the third, Andrew Massey would single to start a Galion mini-rally of their own. Rodriquez would get all the way to third base on an error by the Settlers center fielder with Massey crossing the plate to know the score at one run apiece.

Jackson Curb began the fourth inning for Licking County with a walk and then a swipe of second to put himself in scoring position at second base. An error by Rodriquez at short allowed Curb to move closer to the dish. However, on a routine groundball to Galion second basemen Jose De La Cruz, Curb tried his luck and made a break for home, only to be thrown on an absolute laser of a throw. Baker would dig in again and rip his second straight RBI double, scoring Sobaszek to put the Settlers back on top 2-1 before a Dylan Ott single plated Baker to send the visiting defense out into the field up 3-1. The Graders would not be able to get anything going in the middle innings, including the fourth, fifth and sixth frames. Galion would manage to scatter a few hits here and there but would leave valuable runners stranded on the bases.

While the Graders’ bats went cold in the fourth through sixth innings, Licking County took advantage to widen their lead. The Settlers would post two runs in the fourth, a run in the fifth and three additional runs in the sixth to create a six-run margin over their hosts; 7-1. Licking County racked up six of their 13 total hits over that three inning span but would also have issues getting runners across the plate despite increasing their lead.

Vince Donato stepped in as the lead-off man in the bottom of the seventh and would proceed to rip a double. Jose De La Cruz would reciprocate Donato and the Graders had runners on second and third with nobody out. After Massey struck out swinging for the first out of the inning, Seamus Kenneally would reach via a single to load the bases. Stone hit a laser to the shortstop, causing an error and the scoring of teammates Donato and Juan De La Cruz and Galion still threatening. That would be the last of the runs for the frame as the Graders cut the lead to 7-3 despite leaving the bases loaded.

With the game coming down to the wire, Licking County used a pair of singles and some wild pitching to plate two more runs to stretch the lead further to 9-3. Down to their final outs and trailing again by six runs, Jacob Reimold reached via a lead-off single to begin the home half of the eighth. Jose De La Cruz would step in with one out and find the gap for a double that would score Reimold and cut the lead down to 9-4. A two-out single by Kenneally would get Jose across the dish and send up Stone, looking to keep the rally alive and well. Stone would deliver, getting hold of a pitch and taking it for a ride and what would be a triple, scoring Kenneally and chopping the lead down to 9-6.

Licking County would not be able to get the Graders pitching staff figured out as Galion native Mac Spears entered the contest after Wyatt Larimer worked his way to a 3-0 count against Brendan Alas, the Settlers rightfielder. Spears would eventually strike out Alas and then give up a singles to Eddie Pena and Ott. Spears would pick Pena off at third before fanning Turner Hill to get out of the ninth.

Still trailing 9-6, Galion needed some offense and needed it quickly. Enter Austin Hathaway and a lead-off single and the Graders were doing their best not to go down quietly. A walk to Juan De La Cruz, followed by a Reimold double and a whole lot of mental mistakes on the diamond, Galion trailed just 9-8. Licking County tried a pitching change from Sam Stewart to Trevor Niedzwiecki and the Graders would tie up the ballgame, still with no outs, when Reimold crossed the plate after a wild pitch. Jose De La Cruz at third, Massey at second and Kenneally, who reached on a fielder’s choice, now stood at first. Hitman was erased on the Kenneally 3-2 fielder’s choice for the first out in the inning. After the madness that was that play, Niedzwiecki would get called for a balk by the umpiring crew and Jose would trot home to give Galion the 10-9 victory.

A new roster addition in the likes of Henry Martinez got the start for Galion and worked the first four innings, allowing six hits, four runs (two earned) while walking two batters and striking out five. Tex Norrell came on in relief and went the fifth and sixth innings, allowing three hits and three runs (two earned) while walking two and fanning a pair. Larimer tossed two innings in the contest and gave up two earned runs on two hits, walked a pair and struck out four. Spears gave up the two singles in the ninth but struck out two to hold the Settlers scoreless to earn the win.

Offensive stats for Galion in the contest were: Team- 10R, 14H, 10LOB; Stone- 3B, 2RBI; Rodriquez- 1B; Hathaway- 1B, R; Juan De La Cruz- 1B, R; Reimold- 2-1B, 2B, 2R, RBI; Vince Donato- 1B, R; Jose De La Cruz- 2-2B, 3R, RBI; Massey- 1B, 2B, R and Kenneally- 2-1B, R, RBI.

The Settlers plated their nine runs on 13 hits and left 11 runners stranded on the base path. Licking County committed two errors and Galion three throughout the duration of the game.

By Chad Clinger

Follow Chad on Twitter @GalionSportsGuy

Reach Chad at 419-468-1117 x2048

Follow Chad on Twitter @GalionSportsGuy

Reach Chad at 419-468-1117 x2048