LORAIN — Devin Daugherty was effective in a spot start out of the bullpen, but the worst-hitting team in the Prospect League continued to struggle.
Lorain County, hitting just .182 as a team, scored one run on six hits and the Ironmen fell to the .500 mark for the first time this season, dropping a rain-soaked 2-1 decision to Champion City.
Daugherty allowed one run on six hits while striking out six in five innings, and left with the game tied at 1. Westlake resident Joey Stoll was the hard-luck loser, giving up one run in two innings while striking out four to fall to 0-1.
Kyle Michalik pitched two innings of perfect relief, striking out a pair, to complete a solid outing from Lorain County pitching.
“He was great for a spot starter from the bullpen,” Ironmen manager Joe Rhomberg said of Daugherty. “He went 82-83 pitches and gave us five innings. That was great, it was exactly what we needed. I only had to use three pitchers tonight and it was supposed to be a whole bullpen day. Now I have something for (today).”
Lorain County got on the board first. With one out, third baseman Billy Salem walked. He advanced to second on an error by Kings starting pitcher Ryan Thurston, who threw away a pickoff attempt. Salem moved to third on a wild pitch before Lucas Raley drove him in with a single to right.
The lead would last until the top of the third when Champion City was able to push a run across. Jake Bennett singled with two outs, moved to second on a passed ball and scored on Brent Hermanussen’s single.
Bennett drove in the go-ahead run in the seventh. Tanner Reibenspies singled with two outs, moved to second on Leiff Clarkson’s single and came around to score on Bennett’s line-drive single to center.
The Ironmen (3-3) had chances to get another run in the third and fourth innings. In the third, Salem was thrown out at home after a single by Taylor Emody and a throwing error by Clarkson, the shortstop. Raley led off the fourth with a triple to the gap in right-center, but Lou Peterlin was picked off first base after walking, Tyler Greiner struck out and Kyle Chontos popped out to short to end the threat.
“I was a little disappointed,” Rhomberg said. “We came out flat and I thought we had a couple of chances to score early, but we didn’t. We needed to execute earlier in the game.”
Kings manager Brett Neffendorf liked how his team was able to escape from trouble.
“They would get a leadoff guy on, either get a hit or walk a guy, and we’d get a ground ball or strikeout to get out of it,” he said. “It was huge not to have double negatives.”
Daugherty threw first-pitch strikes to 11 of the first 12 batters he faced.
“I just went out there to throw first-pitch strikes,” he said. “Every pitcher thinks he is going to throw strikes and it’s real important to get ahead. Ty did a great job behind the plate of framing it and blocking the ball. I basically wanted to throw strikes and let the defense work behind me.”
Raley had three hits for Lorain County, while Bennett had three hits and a walk in four plate appearances for Champion City (4-3).
Contact Mike Perry at 329-7135 or email@example.com.