CELINA — Back on Tuesday, July 23, the Galion Graders made a trip to Celina to do battle with the hosting Grand Lake Mariners at Montgomery Field in Eastview Park in the finale of the 2019 Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League.
Galion would find themselves trailing early as Grand Lake plated a run in the bottom of the first frame and another in the home half of the second. The Graders would go down in order in both innings before Ryan Strittmather and Andrew Sharp came through with a single each in the top of the third. However, they would be stranded at third and first base, respectively, as Galion entered the fourth trailing 2-0.
Despite going down 1, 2, 3 in the fourth and fifth, the visitors were able to keep the contest at bay as the Mariners were also unable to manufacture any offense in either inning. In the top of the sixth, Sharp would rip his second single of the game with one out before heading over to second following a single from Austin Harper. With runners now at first and second and two outs, Bryce Ray delivered a double that scored Sharp from second and moved Harper to third to get the Graders on the scoreboard. DeVonte Washington would flyout to right field to end the threat, thus stranding two valuable runners in scoring position. The Mariners would tally a run in the bottom of that inning to regain a two-run advantage at 3-1.
After a quiet seventh, Galion stepped up to the plate in the top of the eighth, potentially down to their final six outs of the summer. Strittmather led-off the Graders’ eighth with a double and would advance to third on another Sharp single. With runners on the corners and nobody out, Harper sent a fly ball to left that was caught but went in as an RBI sacrifice fly as Strittmather crossed home plate to bring the score to 3-2. Sean McLaughlin proceeded to single to put runners at first and second with one down and when all was said and done in the frame, Sharp would come across to score to tie the contest at three runs apiece.
Grand Lake was sure to rise to the challenge in the bottom of that eighth inning and did so to the tune of three runs that would give them a cushion heading into the top of the ninth; 6-3. Galion’s Garrett Kuns came through for the visitors with a one-out single but would be stranded there as Sharp struck out to end the game and the season; the third strikeout for the Graders in the inning.
With the 6-3 defeat, Galion finishes their 2019 campaign with an 11-29 record while the Mariners finished the summer one game below .500 at 20-21.
James Kontur got the ball as the starting pitcher in the finale for Galion and worked the first six innings, allowing eight hits and three earned runs while walking a pair and fanning four. Trey Bame came on in relief and went an inning, giving up two hits while recording one strikeout. Chase Jessee proved to be the pitcher of record, taking the loss following just ⅓ of an inning on the hill that saw him give up two hits and three runs (two earned), while issuing three walks and picking up one strikeout. Christopher Punka closed out the contest for the Graders, working the final ⅔ of an inning.
As a team, the visitors collected nine hits for the game, leading to their three runs despite leaving seven runners on the bases. The Mariners earned their six runs on a dozen hits and stranded 10 on the base path. Grand Lake committed no errors for the contest while Galion finished with a pair of miscues.
Sharp and Strittmather led the way for the visitors with multi-hit games. Sharp collected three singles en route to scoring a pair of runs while Strittmather knocked a single and a double and scored a run.
Additional offensive statistics for Galion in the loss were: Harper- 1B, RBI; McLaughlin- 1B; Ray- 2B, RBI; Washington- RBI and Kuns- 1B.
GLSCL playoffs are underway
With the conclusion of the 2019 regular season in the GLSCL comes the beginning of the postseason for four squads; the Lima Locos, the Licking County Settlers, the Muskegon Clippers and the Cincinnati Steam.
Lima earned the number one seed in the North Division and clashed with the Muskegon Clippers, the two-seed, on Thursday in the first game of their best of three stint. Lima came out victorious, defeating Muskegon by a final score of 9-6. Those two squads will meet again on Friday for game two, hosted by Muskegon. If necessary, game three is set for Saturday, July 27 in Lima.
In the South Division it was the Settlers earning the top-seed and the home-field advantage against the number two seeded Steam. Licking County won game one on Thursday evening by a final tally of 9-5. Like the teams from the North, the South playoffs will continue on Friday (in Cincy) and conclude on Saturday, if necessary (in Newark).
Harper, Jarrett Miller named GLSCL Honorable Mention members
The GLSCL recently announced their postseason awards, naming top prospects, player and pitcher of the year and first, second and honorable mention all-league squads.
Tyler Tolve of the Lima Locos cleaned-up the awards, earning first-team catcher accolades as well as the Gary Henschen Player of the Year award and the Ron Miller Top Player Prospect award. The Lou Laslo Pitcher of the Year award went to Zach Iverson of the Southern Ohio Copperheads. Iverson also made the first-team for starting pitchers. Sam Benschoter of the Michigan Monarchs received the nod for the Tony Lucadella Top Pitcher Prospect and, like Iverson, was named to the first-team for the league’s starting pitchers.
Austin Harper and Jarrett Miller were the two representatives of the Galion Graders receiving nominations.
Harper was named to the Honorable Mention squad as a designated hitter while Miller also received Honorable Mention honors at the starting pitcher position.
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