September 23, 2014

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Paints’ tough lefty handles Ironmen

Lorain County’s Cody Semler forces Chillicothe’s Ronnie Dawson and throws on  to first for the double play in the first inning of Wednesday’s game at The Pipe Yard. STEVE MANHEIM/CHRONICLE

Lorain County’s Cody Semler forces Chillicothe’s Ronnie Dawson and throws on
to first for the double play in the first inning of Wednesday’s game at The Pipe Yard. STEVE MANHEIM/CHRONICLE

LORAIN — With both their leading hitter and hottest hitter on the bench, the Lorain County Ironmen faced one of the top pitchers in the Prospect League on Wednesday at The Pipe Yard.

Infielder Taylor Emody, who leads the Ironmen with a .299 average, is getting over a hip injury while third baseman Billy Salem, a

left-handed hitter who had six hits in Lorain County’s previous two games, was given the night off against Jason Byers, Chillicothe’s tough lefty.

The result was no surprise.

Byers allowed just one hit in six innings, striking out eight, in the Paints’ 3-0 win.

The only time the Ironmen (19-36) threatened was in the second inning when right fielder Carlos Ortiz was hit by a pitch with one out, then moved to third on Logan Landon’s single to right.

Byers got out of the jam by inducing a ground out to third by first baseman Lou Peterlin and an inning-ending fly out to center by catcher Tyler Greiner.

With a fastball that topped out in the low 90s and a change-up between 78-81 miles per hour, Byers found the early season groove that had his earned run average at 1.35 before his last two starts.

He allowed four earned runs in his last start, a loss to Champion City, that moved his season ERA to 1.88.

“It was one of those starts where everything was working,” Byers said. “I could spot my change-up and the curveball … I have no idea where that came from. It surprised me. The fastball was pinpoint and I could locate it anywhere I wanted it.

“My slider was a little different than usual but it was effective and that helped a lot. I was able to really mix my pitches.”

With the Prospect League playoffs set to start in a week, Byers was looking for a solid start before the postseason.

“I struggled a little bit in my last two starts but that happens when you’re a pitcher,” Byers said. “You have to recover from that and start building off your next start. Today helped a lot to get my confidence back.”

Landon, on the mound for the Ironmen, had a strong outing as well. He allowed three runs in 8⅓ innings and struck out four.

It took him just 19 total pitches to get through the second, third and fourth innings.

The Paints (37-17) took the lead in the top of the fifth when shortstop Chris Sedio hit what looked like a fly ball off the bat that ended up carrying to the deepest part of the ballpark, short-hopping the wall a few feet to the right of the 400-foot sign in center.

“He put it all together and pitched a lot of strikes,” Lorain County manager Joe Rhomberg said of Landon. “In the past he’s had one tough inning, but he got out of that one tonight with just two runs. The ball actually kind of jumped tonight, more so than all season. The ball was really carrying. Logan did his job and I was really proud to see him be a pitcher tonight.”

Landon, who is leaving for his home in Sioux Falls, S.D., today, wanted to end his Prospect League season on a positive note.

“It would have been nice to get the complete game … it would have been kind of a kicker,” Landon said. “I wasn’t trying to do anything special, I just wanted to give my team a good performance and get us a win to end the season. It kind of sucks for me I wasn’t able to do that but I feel like I pitched pretty well. It’s not always in the cards but it felt good.”

Sedro had three hits and drove in three for Chillicothe.

The Ironmen will host Butler for two games starting Friday before ending the season on the road.

Contact Mike Perry at 329-7135 or macsportstalk@gmail.com.

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