GALION — The Galion Graders have found themselves in a bit of a tail spin lately, entering Sunday’s contest against the visiting Cincinnati Steam having lost eight of their last 12 contests.
After the first inning of play on a scorcher of a day at Heddleson Field in Heise Park, those troubles appeared to continue as the Steam hung up a five-spot in the frame. When all was said and done, the game ended with a much closer score but still in favor of Cincinnati as they topped their hosts by a final of 11-10. The Steam improved to 14-6 with the win while the Graders drop to .500 on the summer at 9-9.
That first inning for the visitors consisted of a double on the first pitch of the ball game and would see another double and a single, paired with some wild pitching from Galion starter Clayton Cooper, lead to the early five-run deficit. The Graders only response in the home half of the first was a two-out single by Todd Sekowski, who tried to spark additional offense by stealing second, only to be left out on the bases in scoring position.
Galion would hunker down in the top of the second to hold Cincinnati scoreless before stepping to the plate with ideas of shifting the momentum. With one out, Jacob Reimold was plunked by a pitch and shortly after moved all the way to third on a Michael Rodriquez double. Reimold would cross the plate for the Graders first run on a groundout to the second baseman from Vince Donato.
Cincy would get the bats up and alive again in the third, ripping three total singles that lead to another run to put themselves comfortably ahead at 6-1. Seamus Kenneally led-off the Galion portion of the inning with a double but the rest of the line-up went in order to keep the score the same heading into the fourth.
In that fourth, the Graders and Cooper would keep the Steam off the board once again in hopes of rallying with the bats. Reimold was up for the challenge for Galion, delivering a long drive over the fence in the bottom of the frame to inch the hometown squad closer at 6-2. Cincinnati had no response in the top of the fifth, hanging up a zero and allowing Galion another chance to respond. In that fifth, some crafty base running, multiple wild pitches by the Steam pitching staff and a huge, three-run home run from Reimold, his second in as many at bats sent the game onward to the sixth, now tied at six runs apiece.
Both teams would score a run in the sixth to leave the score tied, now at 7-7. Bill Hitman got the home team going with a lead-off triple and would later cross the plate for the Graders seventh run via a groundout to short from Kenneally. That was all before the top of the seventh happened.
Cincinnati uncorked again in that seventh, racking up four runs on only two hits but those two hits were both two-run home runs to put themselves out ahead again, this time by an 11-7 score. The offense kept up in the Graders half as well as they got another solo home run, this time off of the bat of Andrew Stone to cut into their deficit; 11-8. Both teams would go in order in the eighth to push the contest into the final inning.
In the top of the ninth, the Steam would fail to capitalize and, in turn, add any insurance runs, leaving two runners on the base path. Galion stepped in to the batter’s box, starting with Sekowski cranking a lead-off double and would be plated on a Juan De La Cruz double to put the Cincy advantage at 11-9. A walk to Stone put runners at first and second with nobody out and brought the dangerous Reimold to the plate. However, Reimold would be retired via strike out for the first out in the inning. Another Rodriquez double would score Wyatt Larimer, who came into the contest to run for De La Cruz at second and Galion found themselves trailing 11-10 with just one out and runners at second and third. Austin Hathaway was then intentionally walked to load the bases and create a force-out scenario at any base, a bold move with a one-run lead on the line. Turns out, in would pay off for the Steam as Hitman and Kenneally would go do on strikes to end the game and leave the bases loaded and a potential win for the Graders on the base path.
Cooper worked the first 5⅓ innings of the contest, allowing 11 hits and seven earned runs while walking five and striking out a pair. Bucyrus native Gavin Lewis would be handed the loss for the Graders, going just an inning while giving up three hits and four earned runs while walking three Steam hitters. The well-rounded Stone threw the final 2⅔ innings for Galion, allowing just one hit and striking out a trio of Cincinnati batters.
Offensively statistics for the Graders on Sunday were: Team- 11/40, 10R, 8RBI, 5BB, 15K and 9LOB; Reimold- 3R-HR, Solo HR, 4RBI, 3R; Stone- HR, 2R, RBI; Kenneally- 2B; Christopher Jordan- R, SB; Sekowski- 2-2B, 1B, 2R, SB; De La Cruz- 2B, RBI; Larimer- R; Rodriquez- 2-2B, RBI; Donato- RBI and Hitman- 3B, R.
Cincinnati scored their 11 runs on 15 total hits and stranded a dozen in the narrow, one-run victory. The Steam committed two errors in the field while the home team finished with just one miscue.
The struggling Galion Graders look to get back on track when they head to Flat Rock, Michigan for a pair of games against the Lake Erie Monarchs on Tuesday and Wednesday. On Friday, July 6 during the Pickle Run Festival, Galion will play a doubleheader against the Richmond Jazz with the first contest set to begin at 6:05 p.m. The Graders will be home again on Saturday during the festival and also at 6:05 when they play hosts to the Muskegon Clippers.
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