FLAT ROCK, Mich. — Despite rallying to tie the game in the top of the ninth, Galion dropped a 7-6 decision to Lake Erie in 11 innings on Friday. The loss ended the Graders’ bid to earn a postseason berth in its first season in the Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League.
The Monarchs (21-15) locked up their spot in the playoffs with the win at home, guaranteeing themselves no worse than sixth place. It marked Lake Erie’s second victory over Galion in as many days. The teams split a doubleheader on Thursday at Heise Park.
Lake Erie took a 1-0 lead in the first inning when Mark Skonieczny scored on a basehit by Dan Chmielewski. The Graders (13-21) drew even in the fourth inning after Mark Delas slapped a two-out triple and then scored on a single by Alexander Malinsky.
With four runs in the fifth inning, the Monarchs appeared to be well on their way to victory. Skonieczny drove in a pair of runs with a single to give Lake Erie a 3-1 lead. Aaron Aucker followed with a triple that allowed Skonieczny to score and then scampered home on an error by the Graders to run the lead to 5-1.
Galion trimmed the deficit to 5-2 in the top of the sixth when Delas belted his second triple of the game to drive in Brody Basilone, who reached base on a walk.
Lake Erie manufactured its sixth run in the eighth inning to extend the lead to 6-2. Taylor Grzelakowski was hit by a pitch to open the inning, then stole second and moved to third on a ground out by Sammy Stevens. Jacob Britt’s sacrifice fly to left field was deep enough to allow Grzelakowski to score.
Galion’s bats finally woke up in the top of the ninth as the Graders rapped four hits and scored four runs to tie the score at six. Austin Adams had a RBI single. Jake Krupar drove in a run on a ground out and Delas continued his hot streak by driving in two more runs with a basehit that tied the game.
In the bottom of the ninth, Graders reliever Ben Hamilton retired the Monarchs in order with a strikeout and two fly balls to force extra innings.
Lake Erie produced the winning run in the bottom of the 11th. Jacob Britt led off with a single and moved into scoring position when Alex de Watteville grounded out to third base. Dazon Cole ended the game when he doubled off of Galion reliever Trent Downs to drive in Britt with the winning run.
Skonieczny went 2-for-4 with two RBI and scored twice to lead Lake Erie. Aucker also drove in a pair of runs.
Relief pitcher Andrew Fisher earned the win for Lake Erie after working the final two innings. He held the Graders scoreless and recored two strikeouts.
Delas paced Galion with a 4-for-5 performance. He drove in three runs and scored a run. Kevin Shrock and Tyler Ocker each had two hits and scored a run.
Downs was saddled with the loss.
Galion starter Matt Sullivan worked six innings and recorded six strikeouts and one walk. He gave up five runs on seven hits.
Lake Erie starter Alex Wagner also pitched six innings and had six strikeouts. He gave up two runs on five hits and walked two batters.
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.
The Graders wrap up their inaugural season on Monday with a home game against the Grand Lake Mariners at 2:05 p.m.
Saturday is Avita Day at Heise Park. The Graders and staff members from Avita Health System will play an exhibition softball game at 3 p.m. Fans will be treated to giveaways throughout the day.
Andrew Carter can be reached at 419-468-1117, ext. 2048. Connect with him on Twitter @ACGalionSports.