LORAIN — Joe Rhomberg figures the worm has to turn sometime.
His Lorain County Ironmen continue to battle with nothing to show for it in Prospect League play.
Tuesday night was more of the same as West Virginia won 5-4 at The Pipe Yard. The Ironmen (11-18) are 0-3 in the second half of the season while the Miners (19-12) are 2-0.
The first inning told the tale. The Miners scored three runs in the top half thanks to an error and some clutch hitting. The Ironmen, after a leadoff single by Cody Semler, had two hard-hit balls turn into a double play and an out in their half of the inning.
“We made one mistake in the first inning and (West Virginia) gets two unearned runs,” Rhomberg said. “We did everything we could after that. We hit a lot of balls hard. I think we had good at-bats. We made some adjustments. If we do that, we’ll win a lot of games.”
Lorain County outhit West Virginia 9-8 and had three extra-base hits, including a pair of triples. Billy Salem’s two-run triple in the fourth inning sparked a three-run rally that pulled the Ironmen within a run at 4-3.
In the seventh inning, Nate Lanhals scored after doubling down the third-base line on Lucas Raley’s third consecutive hit to make it 5-4, but that’s where it stayed.
Raley did have a two-out triple over David Martinelli’s head in center field in the fifth, but it was wasted as was a two-on, on- out situation in the sixth when West Virginia’s Ryan Perkins came up with a stellar play at second base.
West Virginia managed to make a couple of other clutch plays in the outfield in the seventh to keep the lead. Martinelli chased down Cody Semler’s liner to right-center and right fielder Taylor Kellner made an over-the-head catch of Taylor Emody’s drive with Raley in scoring position and one out.
“Center fielder made a nice play,” Rhomberg said. “Second baseman made a nice play. They’ve got a good defense. You can’t do anything about that. If you keep hitting the ball hard, you’ll score some runs.”
Lorain County’s pitching was good enough to win on most nights. Starter Lucas Landon settled in after a rough start and made it into the sixth inning.
Lefty Joey Stoll was lights out after he entered with two outs in the sixth. The Ohio State product from Westlake allowed only one hit, struck out three and didn’t walk anyone in his three-plus innings of work. The Ironmen turned a pair of double plays behind him.
“The pitchers have been doing their job,” Rhomberg said. “If we’d have made one less mistake in the field or got one more timely hit on offense … I’m proud of the pitching. I’m proud of everyone. We just need to win a couple games to get us going.”
Three Ironmen have been named to the Prospect League All-Star game in Terre Haute, Ind., on Tuesday. Pitcher Matt Ellenbest (six saves, 2.08 ERA) and outfielders Taylor Emody (.292) and Lucas Raley (.275) were named to the East team.
“We didn’t have the best first half but Ellenbest is one of the league leaders in saves,” Rhomberg said. “He’s done the job. Raley started out hot. He was player of the week the second week of the season and now he’s got it going again. Emody’s been pretty steady all year.”