LORAIN — It just seemed destined that Lorain County was not going to win Monday night at The Pipe Yard.
The Ironmen waited out a one-hour, 18-minute rain delay only to find themselves on the short end of a 2-1 count to Chillicothe.
They’ve dropped two straight and eight of their last 10 to fall into last place in the Prospect League’s East Division. The Paints (14-7) lead the division by 1½ games over Butler for the first-half championship.
Lorain County (8-14) had a slew of chances — leaving 13 on base, drawing eight walks and getting one on board with a hit-by-pitch — but couldn’t deliver the key hit. Even a perfectly executed hit-and-run in the ninth inning didn’t bear fruit.
“The last week’s been like that,” Ironmen manager Joe Rhomberg said. “Situational hitting hasn’t been there. Swings are good, approaches are getting better. That’s encouraging. (Monday) it was our younger players getting in those situations late in the game. Hopefully, they’ll learn that for the second half.”
In the bottom of the ninth, Lorain County’s Cody Semler reached on a nicely placed drag bunt with one out and raced to third base when Kyle Chontos singled through the vacated hole at short on the hit-and-run. The Ironmen had the game in reach but pinch-hitter Lou Peterlin struck out and Nate Langhals popped to short left field as Chillicothe hung on to win.
“We haven’t scored many runs the last week,” Rhomberg said. “We tried to do anything there to get it going. The inning before I gave the 3-0 green light with the bases loaded to see if we could get a run. You try to do whatever you can to get the offense going.”
Nothing worked. Lorain County’s only run came without benefit of a hit. A walk, two Chillicothe errors, a hit-batsmen and a sacrifice fly by Langhals scored the only run for the Ironmen. They left runners in scoring position in four innings and left the bases loaded twice.
“You get to third, you hope someone would come through,” Rhomberg said. “Overall, they had good swings and good approaches. I think we’ll be all right.”
Lorain County’s pitching was certainly good enough. Starter Jose Flores scattered six hits over seven innings, giving up both runs but only one earned. Lefty relievers Jamie MacLean and Joey Stoll were spotless over the final two innings.
“We made one mistake early,” Rhomberg said of his pitchers. “They got a run and that was the difference. (Flores) settled in and threw a great game. Pitching’s been very, very good for us.”
Chillicothe scored one in the first inning thanks to a botched ground ball between short and third and added what turned out to be the game-winner on a triple by Kurt Hoekstra and a single by Zach Jacobs in the third inning.
Contact Tim Gebhardt at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.