GALION — Galion’s Hunter Clanin drove in the tying run and later scored what proved to be the winning run to help the Graders defeat Lake Erie 2-1 and earn a split of a doubleheader with the Monarchs on Thursday evening at Heise Park.
Lake Erie won the opening game of the twinbill 6-0 to remain in playoff contention in the Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League. The Monarchs (20-15) are currently in fifth place.
“That’s a good win in a good baseball game right there,” Galion head coach Ray Neill said following his club’s win in the nightcap. “They’re a playoff team and after the struggle of the first game, we’re proud of the guys for coming back in the second game. It was a good win for us against a good team and it keeps the good stuff of our personal second half going.”
Heading into Friday’s game at Lake Erie, Galion (13-20) finds itself four and a half games behind Licking County for the sixth and final playoff berth.
After neither side managed to score in the first three innings, Lake Erie struck first in the top of the fourth to grab a 1-0 lead. Sammy Stevens drew a lead-off walk, stole second base, and later scored on a basehit to right field by James Scott. Galion starting pitcher Kody Brown then fielded a ground ball and threw to first for the final out to end the inning.
Galion had an immediate answer in the home half of the fourth, plating both of its runs to take the lead for good. After retiring the first two Graders, Brett Struebing walked Brody Basilone to set the table for Clanin, who slapped a triple into the gap in right-center field, allowing Basilone to score the tying run. Dylan Slack’s ground ball to the left side was misplayed by Monarchs shortstop Alec de Watteville and Clanin scampered home with the eventual game-winning run.
“Hunter Clanin’s at-bat was huge and Dylan Slack had a good swing with two strikes on him to get the go-ahead run in,” Neill said. “We needed some plays and they made them.”
Clanin’s triple was his only hit in four plate appearances, and one of just four hits for the Graders. Kevin Shrock went 2-for-3 and Tyler Ocker was 1-for-2.
Brown left the game at the end of the fourth inning, but earned the victory to improve to 2-1, thanks to the Galion rally in the bottom of his final inning of work. He gave up four hits and recorded two strikeouts and four walks.
Josh Peterson and Basilone held Lake Erie scoreless over the final five innings. In two innings, Peterson gave up four hits and struck out two batters. Basilone worked three innings to earn his third save of the season. He gave up two hits and finished with a pair of strikeouts.
“Kody Brown in the last three or four days has straightened some things out on the mound for himself,” Neill said. “I’m real happy to see that. Peterson came in and gave us what we needed from him. He needed to be the link to get us to Brody Basilone, and Brody Basilone continues to be special.”
Struebing took the loss for Lake Erie to drop to 3-2 this season. He struck out three batters, walked two and gave up four hits.
Scott, Ross Haffey and Mark Skonieczny had two hits apiece to lead the Monarchs. Lake Erie finished with 10 hits and left 10 runners on base.
Galion pulled off two double plays in the second game to help preserve the win.
Lake Erie dominated the first game with Dan Chmielewski going 3-for-4 with two RBI and a run scored, and Aaron Aucker finishing 2-for-4 with a pair of RBI and a run scored. de Watteville was 2-for-4, drove in a run and scored a run. Jacob Britt went 2-for-3 and scored a run.
Cam Wysocki earned the win despite pitching just one inning.
Clanin went 2-for-3 for Galion. Six other players had one hit apiece. Luke Fraley started the game and took the loss. He gave up four runs on seven hits and recorded three strikeouts and one walk in three innings. Ben Hamilton worked four innings, struck out five batters and walked two, and gave up two runs on four hits.
Neill said he’s been pleased with his team’s performance in the second half of the season. The Graders lost the first four games of the campaign and also suffered through a seven-game losing skid before reversing their fortunes after the calendar turned to July.
“As the season winds down, I appreciate the will to win and the want to be focused in our dugout,” he said. “They respect the game.”
After Friday’s game at Lake Erie, the Graders return home for a pair of games this weekend. Galion will play host to the Xenia Scouts on Saturday and Sunday. Both games begin at 7:05 p.m. Fireworks will follow the Saturday game.
Galion wraps up its inaugural season on Monday with a home game against the Grand Lake Mariners at 2:05 p.m.
Andrew Carter can be reached at 419-468-1117, ext. 2048. Connect with him on Twitter @ACGalionSports.