LORAIN — Dollar dogs, back-to-back jacks, grand slams. Opening night at The Pipe Yard had a little of everything for the Lorain County Ironmen on Tuesday night, most importantly a 19-3 win over the Richmond RiverRats.
The Ironmen sent 17 batters to the plate in an 11-run first inning to open the Prospect League season on a high.
“I don’t know what to say,” shortstop Nate Langhals of Strongsville said. “I don’t know if you know what to say. Pretty unheard of — especially first game with wood bats. Pretty impressive.”
Impressive? Isaac Smith led off the bottom of the first with a high drive over the left-field wall and Langhals followed suit with a deep poke well over the 400-foot wall in center — a place few thought possible to reach at the suddenly homer-friendly Pipe Yard.
It was only three seasons ago Lorain County had just three home runs the whole year.
“Usually they don’t carry well to center, depending on the wind,” Ironmen coach Joe Rhomberg said. “I think there was one kind of close last year. Usually you don’t see too many balls hit out in that direction.”
Zach Ratliff put on the icing with a grand slam to complete the first-inning explosion.
Not that the Ironmen were finished, adding a six-run eighth to complete the rout.
“That’s the best way we’ve ever started a season,” Rhomberg said. “Especially the first two guys. The scouting report didn’t really say they were power hitters. Smith is supposed to be a real fast outfielder. Langhals is supposed to be a good defensive shortstop-third base type. He can swing the bat. He had three hits. That surprised me a little. We got two right away off the bat.”
“First time with everybody here,” Langhals said. “I know some of them but I haven’t played with them for awhile. It seemed like we meshed pretty well.”
“It’s been kind of tough,” Rhomberg said. “I’m still learning everyone’s names. We still have a couple kids that aren’t here yet. Joe (Charboneau) has done a great job getting the hitters ready.”
Keystone graduate and Toledo product Caleb Schillace started and threw four solid innings for the Ironmen — striking out five and walking just one. The extended first inning may have hurt Schillace’s line, though, as he gave up three runs in the top of the second after Lorain County’s at-bat lasted over a half hour.
Another local product, Southview grad Rey Carrion, had three hits and a pair of RBIs.
In all, the Ironmen collected 16 hits off three Richmond pitchers.
“We’re just trying to get good pitches to hit,” said Langhals, who drove in four runs with three hits. “We’re all new here. We haven’t faced these pitchers. Just trying to get the good part of the bat on the ball. We’re lucky we did it.”
- WHO: Lorain County Ironmen vs. Richmond (Ind.) RiverRats
- TIME: 7:05
- WHERE: The Pipe Yard, Lorain
Contact Tim Gebhardt at 329-7135 or at email@example.com.