LORAIN — Nothing has come easy for the Lorain County Ironmen this year.
For the second night in a row, the Ironmen entered the ninth inning with a seemingly safe lead only to watch the game turn into a nail-biter. But for the second night in a row, the Ironmen pulled out the win, this time 6-5 over Licking County in a Great Lakes Summer Collegiate league game Saturday night.
Lorain County improved to 3-6, while the Settlers dropped to 2-5.
“It ain’t (easy), but we’ll take the win,” Ironmen manager Kevin Whiteside said. “Jack (Armbruster) came out and threw the ball phenomenally well. Justin Liserio came in behind him. We got into trouble right there in the ninth. Ryan LaPage came in and shut the door down. That was a good team we beat (Saturday).”
Lorain County had things in hand just as it did Friday night when it edged Grand Lake 11-9 after nearly blowing a seven-run lead. Saturday, the Ironmen played a clean, crisp game in getting out in front 6-2 entering the top of the ninth inning.
Armbruster was very effective until he ran out of gas a little bit in the seventh. He had allowed just three hits through six innings before surrendering two more before leaving in the top of the seventh.
“I was happy I gave our team a quality start,” Armbruster said. “That’s all I could do. We put up six runs, which was great to see. Everybody did what they needed to do.”
“We got a lot of big two-out hits at the right time,” Whiteside said. “Once we get to the point where we’re cleaning up all these little mistakes … this was the first game all year where it was kind of clean except for those last couple outs. We’re building. We’re going to get there.”
The Ironmen jumped in front with two runs in the second inning. Dom Mittiga led off with a single and Jack Longo and Nathan Erzen hit successive one-out hits to bring home one run. Matt Carpenter’s groundout to second scored the second run.
Lorain County scored again to make it 3-0 in the third when Sam Casinelli singled with one out, Clearview grad Antonio Bennett walked and Jaret Peterson drove in Casinelli with a two-out single to left.
The Settlers got their first run off Armbruster in the fourth but the Ironmen defense limited the damage. It remained 3-1 until the sixth when Lorain County added a pair of two-out runs. Carpenter doubled to the gap in right-center and scored on Nick Novak’s single up the middle. Novak advanced to second when Licking County’s Craig Lewis lost control of the ball in center. Michael Blatchford drove in Novak with a single to center.
Both teams scored in the seventh. Carpenter drove in Longo with another hit for the Ironmen.
To that point, Licking County managed just five hits and two runs off the combination of Armbruster and Liserio, and had the bottom of its order up in the ninth against Patrick Carlozzi, in relief of Liserio.
However, Miguel Pimental singled to right and Peck followed suit. Michael Piskorz, the No. 9 hitter, blooped a hit to right that scored Pimental. That was all for Carlozzi, but Peck scored on Lewis’ fielder’s choice and Noah Hahn sliced another single to right. Andrew Ivella’s sacrifice fly to center scored Lewis. Jarrett Peters singled to right to put the winning run on base and Sebastian Samuels walked on a full count to load the bases before LaPage struck out Henry Eilen to end the game.
“It was a little nerve-wracking (in the ninth),” Armbruster said. “Bases loaded, two outs. I was confident in our pitchers. It was fun to see them get out of it.”
“Luckily, we were able to get out to a strong lead early,” said Carpenter, who was 3-for-4 with two RBIs and a run scored. “We had that cushion. We just have to do a better job of closing out late. We’re still fine-tuning things. We’ll be all right.”
Contact Tim Gebhardt at 329-7135 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.