It’s that close.
Wednesday at The Pipe Yard, Lorain County used a five-run first inning and a three-run homer by Scott Splett in the fourth to power its way to a 10-4 win over Richmond to even its mark at 7-7.
That’s good enough to tie three other teams, including the RiverRats, just a game back of Chillicothe at 8-6.
Slippery Rock is the only team in the division with a losing mark at 6-8, but the Sliders are just two games off the pace. West Virginia and Butler are also 7-7.
“It’s strange,” Ironmen coach Joe Rhomberg said. “The first week of the season, some guys aren’t here and everyone’s roster’s a little down. You never really know what’s going to happen.
“I try to impress on our guys to take advantage of that. We had a pretty full squad early on. It seems like the pitching’s a little better and everyone is just feeling out the hitting and the pitching.”
When Lorain County does score, it comes in bunches. Wednesday the Ironmen touched up University of Evansville’s Tyler Miller for five runs and five hits in the first inning.
Isaac Smith led things off with a double off the glove of left fielder Kyle Leslie and Tyler Coughenour, who is hitting .419, followed with a slicing single down the first base line to move Smith to third. Splett hit a sacrifice fly to center to score Smith.
Zach Ratcliff singled and Nate Langhals reached on an error, scoring Coughenour. Lorain native Rey Carrion followed with an RBI single and Billy Salem drove in two with a double to right.
Splett hit his first home run of the season with Brennen Laird and Coughenour aboard to give Lorain County an 8-3 lead after four innings. Laird drew a walk and was sacrificed to second by Smith. Coughenour was hit by a pitch to set the stage for Splett.
“Pretty big hit in the game,” said Splett, who drove in four. “He threw me a pitch in and I just turned on it. Felt pretty good off the bat.
“It was pretty big getting out in the first inning, getting a couple runs there. Hitting gets easier as you go on and you get more confidence.”
“We’re doing a good job getting on the scoreboard early,” Rhomberg said.
The first inning gave Cam Knott all the runs he needed. Knott gave up nine hits over six innings but Richmond couldn’t score other than the three runs it got in the second. Knott won his third game without a defeat by wiggling his way out of trouble all night.
“It was awesome,” Rhomberg said. “We needed the six innings and he got it. He settled down after the second inning. He was a little wild the first couple but that’s normal. His arm looks strong. He started getting a better game plan after the first couple innings. It was nice to see. It looks like he’s going to be a good one.”
Contact Tim Gebhardt at 329-7135 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.