LORAIN - Adam Beach may have gotten the last laugh against Prospect League East Division second- half champion Slippery Rock on Friday night at The Pipe Yard.
The message Beach sent was a 13-strike-out, three-hit, 7 1⁄3-inning masterpiece from the Vermilion native in Lorain County's final home game of the season in front of 704 fans on Breast Cancer Awareness Night. Beach was taken out after fanning Slippery Rock's designated hitter Kevin Burgi on his 98th pitch of the night.
Lorain County has a chance to finish the second half at .500 with a win tonight at Butler to close the season. With a victory, the Ironmen can claim to be the second-best team overall in the division.
"The whole summer I was trying to throw strikes," Beach said. "I struggled with that but I thought I'd give it my best on my last shot (Friday)."
Beach was effective right from the start, getting ahead of hitters and working both sides of the plate. He was perfect through four innings before Fred Ford broke up the perfection with a line shot to right that right fielder Nate Tomaszewski nearly threw in time to retire Ford at first.
"Me and Nate always talk," Beach said with a grin. "He always tells me he'll make a play for me. Usually in the outfield he'll make a diving catch or a play. I could only smile when he tried to throw that guy out at first."
Beach was outstanding. He didn't walk anyone and allowed only one runner to advance to second base. He struck out the side in the second inning and at one point had fanned five in a row and seven of nine hitters.
Scott White picked up his first save with 1 2⁄3 scoreless innings.
"Even if I had to take a little off the fastball, I just wanted to get ahead," Beach said. "(Catcher) Steel (Russell) was working great - in and out. We were just hitting spots."
"His last four, five starts he's been wild early," Ironmen manager Joe Rhomberg said. "His pitch count got up and we had to take him out. He was on (Friday)."
Elyria High grad Nolan Neuschaefer drove in what proved to be the only run Beach would need in the fifth inning when he lined a two-out base hit down the right-field line to score Tomaszewski, who had doubled to the right-field corner just ahead of Neuschaefer.
"That lefty (Slippery Rock's starting pitcher Nate Umberger) had been throwing the ball (inside) the whole time," said Neuschaefer, who is hitting .296 on the year. "He was jamming me and I made the adjustment and hit it to right field."
Lorain County added insurance runs in the sixth and eighth innings. Zak Blair scored on a wild pitch in the sixth and Russell drove home Blair with a slow roller that hugged the third-base line for a hit in the eighth.
With Friday's game being the season finale at The Pipe Yard, several Ironmen reflected on what was a memorable experience. Elyria Catholic's Andrew Kubuski, who hit the first home run out of The Pipe Yard earlier in the year, said the competition was tremendous.
"I don't know how that happened," Kubuski said with a smile when reminded of his homer. "Got lucky."
As for playing in the Prospect League, Kubuski, who plays his college ball at Bowling Green, was happy to be a part of it. The friendships and knowledge gained were something he'll never forget.
"I heard it's one of the best college leagues around," he said. "You're facing good pitchers every day - lefties, side-armers - but the group of kids we have here in Lorain County is just awesome. I made a lot of new friends."
"We've had great coaches," said Neuschaefer, who plays at Baldwin-Wallace. "All the experience they have, we just soak it in to use in our next college season. It was great to meet all these guys and play with them. I had a blast."
"It's been a lot of fun," said Elyria native and Notre Dame College pitcher Dan Poskocil, who in nearly 30 innings of work, walked just one hitter. "We bonded a lot. I just want to thank the organization for the opportunity."
Sam Alvis, grandson of former Indian slugger Max Alvis, came all the way from Jasper, Texas, to play for Lorain County.
"I was excited to get up here and start playing," he said. "After I met the guys, you sort of fall in love with the team. We had really good team chemistry."
Alvis' grandfather and Kevin Rhomberg, one of the Ironmen owners, got together at an Indians fantasy camp to set in motion Sam's coming to play in Lorain County. He stayed with James DiBiasio's family. DiBiasio's uncle is Bobby DiBiasio, the marketing director for the Tribe.
"It's been a really fun summer," Alvis said. "I've really enjoyed Lorain. It's been a great opportunity for me."
"I didn't know what I was getting into coming from the professional level down to the college level," said Joe Rhomberg, the first-year manager. "But I'll tell you, the kids have been great. They've learned a lot and have been willing to learn. I had a great time with them."
"It's always nice to meet new kids," said former Elyria High coach Steve Sunagel, finishing his second season as one of the Ironmen coaches. "It's great to see how they improve from the beginning of the season to the end."
Former Elyria West, North Ridgeville and Elyria Catholic baseball coach Tom Kubuski, recently retired, is having fun following his son Andrew around the Prospect League this year. In fact, Kubuski mentioned the Butler BlueSox, today's final opponent, play at the same venue - Pullman Park - where his father Ed played minor league ball way back in the 1940s. Ed, of course, was the longtime teacher/coach at Midview.
Contact Tim Gebhardt at 329-7136 or firstname.lastname@example.org.