By Ryan Hines
LIMA -- The much-anticipated rematch of the Grand Lake Mariners and the Lima Locos came on Thursday night at Lima Shawnee high school and the results were the same, for the most part.
Tempers flared a few times and the Locos came away with a 4-1 victory after the Mariners left the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth.
"We outplayed them and I think we outpitched them but we lost the game," said Grand Lake manager Mike Stafford. "They got some bullcrap hits at the end to make it 4-1, but it was a great game until the last out. I thought that we played well and hopefully we can carry that intensity over into Saturday and into the tournament."
With the playoff teams already decided, Lima is still jockeying for position to try and get ahold of the second seed for the tournament, which receives a first-round bye. The Locos are in a race with Delaware and Stark County for the second seed while the Mariners are already slotted in the sixth position for the postseason.
The Mariners got a solid start out of Ross Liersmann (1-5), whose only win on the hill this season came earlier in the summer against the Locos, as the righthander threw seven innings giving up two runs (one earned) and struck out seven. In a well-pitched game by both starters, Lima ace Adam Burks (5-2) got the win after hurling seven innings allowing one run on seven hits with four punchouts. Wapakoneta graduate Josh Varno came on and pitched a scoreless ninth inning, as did Reid Lamport who picked up his fourth save of the year.
"Even though they gave up just one run, I thought that we outpitched them," stated Stafford. "They had some bleeder hits and some deflection hits and sometimes there's nothing that you can do about it."
The save was a difficult one for Lamport as Grand Lake tried to rally in its last at-bat.
With two outs on back-to-back strikeouts recorded by Lamport, Grand Lake's Ben Humphrey was hit by a pitch. Kris Moorman followed with a single to rightfield and Josh Eachues walked to load the bases bringing nine-hole hitter Bryant Witt, who already had two singles in the game, to the plate. Lamport got Witt to ground weakly to second base for the final out leaving the bases loaded.
Getting a clutch hit was a problem for the Mariners once again on Thursday as they left 10 runners on base, twice leaving the bases loaded, and hit into four double plays. In fact, the Mariners got the lead-off runner on base for five straight innings (second through sixth innings) and managed to score just one run.
"Their kid doesn't have much stuff and he's average at best, so I think that we just missed some pitches and they turned into double plays for them," said Stafford. "He got away with some pitches, but you have to give the kid credit, he only gave up one run."
The Mariners, down 1-0 at the time, scored their lone run in the second inning when Josh Dietz doubled, went to third on a single by Michael Ayala and came home when Lima centerfielder R.C. Dickerson booted the ball in the outfield.
The score stay tied at 1-1 until Lima came through with a run in the fifth inning.
Lima lead-off man Matt Bolton, who scored the Locos' first run of the game, drew a one-out walk and stole second base before coming home on a clutch two-out RBI single from Bryan Chandler for a 2-1 Locos lead.
Once Liersmann left the game for the Mariners after his seven innings, Dan Weiss came out of the bullpen and allowed two runs in one inning on two hits and three walks. The Locos scored the pair of runs on infield singles.
Grand Lake is on the road Saturday for a single game against Columbus at 7 p.m. The game will be played at the same site as the upcoming GLSCL playoffs, beginning on Wednesday.