LORAIN — The defense was better but the result was the same.
The Lorain County Ironmen lost for the ninth time in their last 10 games, falling 3-1 to Springfield on Sunday at The Pipe Yard.
Unlike most of the games during this losing streak, the defense wasn’t to blame.
In its last 10 games, the Ironmen (18-34) have committed 25 errors, leading to 28 unearned runs. Though Lorain County was charged with a pair of defensive miscues again, this time the bats were the problem as the team could not take advantage of a strong start by lefthander Justin Fritts.
Center fielder Anthony Bova led off the bottom of the first with a sharp single to center that was overran by Springfield center fielder Cody Dempster, allowing Bova to make it all the way to third.
Shortstop Nate Langhals drove Bova in with a groundout to second, but that was the end of the offense for the Ironmen. Sliders starter Chris Powell settled down to allow just six hits the rest of the way — striking out six — to pick up his second win of the season.
Powell didn’t overpower anyone, but he hit his spots and kept the Lorain County hitters off balance.
“We figured a pattern out but didn’t quite make the adjustments and make it hurt when we did,” Ironmen manager Joe Rhomberg said. “He relied a lot on his off-speed stuff and we had to sit back better and go the opposite way more. We started to do that, but just didn’t get the hits when we needed to. He did a really good job.”
Springfield (13-38) tied the game in the top of the second when third baseman Taylor Clarkson hammered the second pitch he saw — a Fritts fastball — over the left field wall for a solo home run. The Sliders took the lead in the top of the third on an RBI single from right fielder Will Schneider, then added an insurance run in the eighth on a throwing error by Lorain County right fielder Carlos Ortiz.
Clarkson was on third base with one out when Riley Spetz hit a shallow drive to Ortiz in right. Ortiz came up throwing, but his throw tailed up the first base line. Ironmen catcher Tyler Greiner went after it, leaving the plate uncovered.
Clarkson jogged home.
“It was a weird play,” Rhomberg said. “The throw was offline and that’s the kind of mistake you can live with. The catcher went after it and we had the pitcher backing it up, but the defense overall played the way it should. We didn’t have errors, were in the right places and kept their focus.”
Lorain County loaded the bases against Springfield closer Alex Siddle in the bottom of the ninth, but Bova struck out swinging to end the game.
Though Fritts was tagged with the loss, Rhomerg liked what he saw from the pitcher.
“He did well. He said his arm was a little tight, that’s why I pushed his start back a couple of games,” Rhomberg said. “He looked fine … his velocity was OK and I was kind of glad to see him battle through and get six innings for us.”
Springfield hitters were aggressive, swinging at the first pitch 17 times against Fritts.
“I don’t mind,” Fritts said of facing aggressive hitters. “When I was younger I would try to strike everyone out. Now I don’t mind having a one-pitch at-bat or a three-pitch at-bat. I feel confident, with my defense behind me, that I can throw it over the middle and let them hit it.”
Contact Mike Perry at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.