October 23, 2014

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Defensive problems cost Ironmen again

Andrew Gronski drives in the Ironmen’s first run with a swinging bunt in the first. STEVE MANHEIM/CHRONICLE

Andrew Gronski drives in the Ironmen’s first run with a swinging bunt in the first. STEVE MANHEIM/CHRONICLE

LORAIN — Defense has been a problem for Lorain County most of the season and it bit the Ironmen again in a 5-3 loss to West Virginia on Friday at The Pipe Yard.

Lorain County led 2-0 through four innings, but an error by shortstop Cody Semler on a high chopper opened the flood gates for the Miners, who went on to score four runs — just two earned – to take control of the game.

Amherst’s Tyler Bires got the Ironmen going in the first inning. After getting hit by a pitch from Cody Pope (5-2), he took off on a steal of second and ended up at third when Pope unloaded a wild pitch.

Andrew Gronski brought Bires in with a full-swing dribbler toward the right side of the infield that turned out to be as good as a squeeze bunt.

Logan Landon walked to start the second inning and Ryan Cooper followed with a bloop single down the right-field line. Carlos Ortiz laid down a sacrifice bunt to move the runners up and Landon scored on a groundout by Anthony Bova for a 2-0 lead.

Ironmen starter JT Brubaker (4-2) cruised through the first four innings, allowing just one hit before running into trouble in the fifth.

Brubaker struck out Paul Trenhaile to start the inning, but the swinging strikeout came on a wild pitch and Trenhaile was able to reach first. Taylor Kellner followed with a flare behind first base for a single.

Westyn Baylor drove home the first run for West Virginia with a sacrifice fly to right after another wild pitch.

Then came the killer error.

David Sheaffer sent a ball to shortstop that took a high hop on Semler, who couldn’t handle the bounce and had the ball go off his glove into left field.

“That’s a play where you would like to see us get at least one out,” Lorain County manager Joe Rhomberg said. “We had some bad luck that inning with the wild-pitch strikeout, had a ball bounce over our first baseman’s head and that hop at short.”

West Virginia capitalized when leadoff hitter Grant Massey singled up the middle to drive in one run, and David Martinelli drove in a pair with a single through the left side to grab the lead from the Ironmen.

Semler stroked his fourth double of the year into the left-field corner to start the sixth and he scored on a ground out from Landon to cut the Miners’ lead to 4-3.

The Lorain County defense handed West Virginia an insurance run in the last inning as relief pitcher Joey Stoll (Westlake) committed a pair of errors.

“He (Brubaker) was a little wild in the game, that’s probably the most balls in the dirt I have ever seen him throw,” said Rhomberg about hard-luck loser Brubaker. “I think after the fourth he didn’t throw the ball in the dirt. He keeps getting better and stronger with just one start left for him this year.”

Contact James Brady at 329-7135 or jbrady_ct@yahoo.com.

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