The Licking County Settlers (17-16) came out victorious in both games of a double-header on Friday, July 17, against the Lorain County Ironmen (13-18) at The Pipeyard in Lorain, Ohio.
The Settlers’ offense got hot early as they put three runs on the board before the Ironmen had a chance to bat. Tanner Johnson (Denison University) led the game off with a double down the left field line and advanced to third base on Dustin Lee’s (Northwood University) sacrifice bunt. Johnson was plated when Michael Ketchmark (Dartmouth College) doubled to right-center field. Woody Wallace then hit a home run over the left field wall, giving the Settlers a three-run advantage. This was Wallace’s third long ball of the season.
The Ironmen plated two runs in the bottom half of the first before Licking County would put two runs on the board in the second and another in the third, giving them a 6-2 lead after three innings. Robbie Doring (University of Dayton) began the second inning with a single before scoring on Luke Cureton’s (Indiana University) triple to right-center field. Cureton later scored on Lee’s single, pushing the Settlers lead to 5-2. In the third inning, Kevin Hickey (Charleston Southern University) came home on Doring’s RBI double.
In the bottom of the third inning, the Ironmen scored three runs, shrinking the Settlers lead to 6-5. The Settlers and Ironmen each scored a run in the seventh inning as the Settlers won game one over the Ironmen, 7-6.
Game two wasn’t much different than game one, as the Settlers put up another six runs, giving them 13 on the day. Licking County scored a run each inning between the 3rd and 7th innings, while the Ironmen scored just once in the sixth. The Settlers scored one run in the third inning, thanks to three doubles from Doring, Dylan Calhoun (University of North Alabama), and Kyle Holbrook (Dartmouth College).
Zak DeCamp (Lake Erie College) scored the first run in the fourth inning when he crushed a ball over the left field wall on the first pitch of the inning. Hickey scored the second run of the inning on another Cureton sacrifice fly. Chad Wagner (University of Montevallo) scored the lone Settlers run in the fifth inning when Ketchmark singled to left field. Cureton scored a run in the sixth inning when Calhoun singled up the middle, giving the Settlers a 5-0 lead. Kyle Holbrook scored the game’s last run when he singled and touched every other base due to wild pitches. Settlers won game two 6-1.
“It’s big to jump on teams, especially after you beat them in game one,” said Settlers head coach Joe Noro. “If you can get on top early, you increase your chances and that’s what we did tonight. We kept it rolling along with our pitching tonight.”
The Settlers pitching staff pitched very well in both games of the double-header on Friday. They combined for 19 strikeouts and only four of the seven Ironmen runs were earned. Both starters, Patrick Peterson (Dartmouth College) and Sam Fichthorn (Dartmouth College) pitched well going four and six innings, respectively, and allowed just three earned runs combined.
“When you pitch well, you give yourself a chance to win,” said coach Noro. “We’ve been waiting for it to come around all season and it finally has. Everyone has been working really hard out there, and when you work hard you have a shot. That’s what we did tonight.”
The bullpen also pitched very well as they allowed just one earned run in six innings pitched, while striking out nine and walking zero. In the previous 18.1 innings that the bullpen has pitched, only two runs have scored.
“They’ve done everything that we’ve asked of them,” said coach Noro. “They’ve filled the strike zone and pitched strikes and have really competed. That’s all that we can really ask of them.”
With the sweep, the Settlers won their season series with the Ironmen with a record of 3-1. The victories also pushed the Settlers win streak to four, which ties their longest of the season.
“The next few games are big, especially with the All-Star break coming up,” said coach Noro. “It’s always big to be on a roll headed into a break. We defeated Grand Lake once this year and gave them the second game late, so we know that we can compete with them.”
Just like the Lorain County series, the upcoming series with the Mariners has big playoff implications as each team is in the hunt for the postseason.