GALION — Lima took advantage of its opportunities and Galion didn’t. That was the bottom line in the Graders 6-3 loss to the Locos on Wednesday evening at Heise Park.
“We played a better game than we’ve played in a couple days. It came down to a couple of mistakes. We had an error and a pitch that was a little too good that was the difference in the game,” Graders manager Mike O’Leary said. “A little bit more timely hitting would’ve helped. But we’re learning each other. We’re gonna put some things together. We’re gonna play (Lima) better.”
Galion (1-3) took a short-lived 1-0 lead in the third inning, but Lima rallied to take the lead for good in the top of the fourth inning, scoring three runs. The Graders cut the deficit to 3-2 in the fifth inning, but the Locos (5-0) added two runs in the top of sixth on a Jay Sorohan two-run home run to push their advantage to 5-2.
Galion pulled back a run in the home half of the sixth inning, closing the gap to 5-3. Lima scored the game’s final run in the top of the seventh. The Graders put runners on base in the eighth and ninth innings, but were unable to make anything happen.
In the ninth, lead-off batter Avery Fisher drew a walk, but was caught stealing. Nick Christopher was later hit by a pitch, which would’ve given Galion two base runners with only one out at the time. O’Leary said he took responsibility for the decision to try and steal the base.
“I gotta take a little blame right there at the end,” O’Leary said. “We got our lead-off guy (Avery Fisher) on, nobody out, and I tried to get a little too cute, and it cost us. It cost us a big out and a big runner. I’m gonna beat myself up until about midnight and then it’s a new day, right?”
Galion ended up leaving 10 runners on base, including a bases-loaded situation in the sixth. The Graders left two runners stranded in both the second and third innings.
Sorohan went 1-for-3. Drew Vogel went 2-for-5 with an RBI and scored a run. Joseph Salvo was 2-for-4, scored a run, and drove in a run.
Jake Smallwood and Darryl Buggs each went 2-for-5. Smallwood scored a run. Trevor Rider was 1-for-5 and scored a run.
Dylan Freeman started and earned the win for Lima. He worked four innings and gave up just one run on five hits. He recorded five strikeouts and one walk.
Seth Tucker pitched a scoreless ninth inning for Lima and was credited with the save.
Kaito Hara went 2-for-5 and scored a run for the Graders. Avery Fisher and Ben Sinins each went 1-for-4 and scored a run.
Nick Christopher, Christian Orr, Seth Schroeder, and Brian Erbe each had a hit for Galion. Schroeder had a double, the Graders’ lone extra base hit.
William Stultz was the starting pitcher for the Graders, but didn’t figure in the decision. He worked 3-2/3 innings, gave up three runs (one earned) on five hits, and recorded three strikeouts and no walks.
Troy Vermilion came on in relief and was saddled with the loss. He pitched 2-2/3 innings, giving up three runs on four hits. He had three strikeouts and three walks.
Logan Fisher relieved Vermilion and worked the final 2-2/3 innings. He held the Locos scoreless and gave up just one hit. Fisher recorded five strikeouts and one walk.
“They all did a very good job,” O’Leary said about his pitching staff. “I was happy with everybody. We’re still a little bit short in the bullpen. We’ve got some more guys to report yet. We’ve got some guys that are just not ready to go. We found a couple of (pitchers) we strummed up from the area, people we knew, but we can’t ride them as hard as we want to because of some pitch-count restrictions through the league.”
Galion is scheduled to travel to Sandusky on Thursday to face the Ice Haulers, a team the Graders defeated 10-9 on opening night.
The Graders return home Friday to face Grand Lake at 7:05 p.m. at Heise Park. Galion hits the road again Saturday with a trip to Lima. They wrap up the weekend with a home game on Sunday against the Muskegon Clippers at 4:05 p.m. at Heise Park.
Admission to Graders home games costs $5 for adults and $3 for senior citizens.
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