Last updated: August 03. 2014 5:45PM - 733 Views
By - tusher@civitasmedia.com

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It was over well before anyone wanted to say their final good-byes.

The Lima Locos’ season came to a screeching halt on Friday. The regular-season champion Locos (27-13) lost in the best-of-three Great Lakes Collegiate League semifinals to Licking County, two games to one.

At that point it didn’t matter if the Locos were the No. 1 seed and the Settlers were the No. 5 seed and had barely finished over .500 (19-18) during the regular season.

It also didn’t matter that the Locos went 17-3 over the final 20 regular-season games.

However, there were plenty of plusses, both team-wise and individually this year for the Locos.

As for the team, the Locos won 27 games, the third most ever, two behind the championship team of 2011, which went 29-14.

Individually, there were a number of players who took advantage of the fact that they played every day and elevated themselves as college ballplayers.

It turned out to be one of the best years for player development.

Locos catcher/designated hitter Daniel Garner was a part-time player at Mississippi State who hit .273 with no home runs in 44 at-bats. With the Locos, he hit .327 with a league-leading eight home runs and 32 RBIs. He also had 13 doubles, one shy of the team record of 14, set by Andy Chriscaden in 2011.

Garner, a first team all-GLCL player, is headed to Shelton State (Ala.) this fall and hopes to pick up where he left off this summer.

Then, there was Locos center fielder Kyle Lewis, who ran everything down in both gaps all summer. He came from Mercer, where he played every other day (89 at-bats) and hit .281 with two home runs and 17 RBIs.

So what’s Lewis do this summer?

He ends up being both the GLCL player of the year and prospect of the year. He hits .342 and leads the league in runs scored (41), a team record, and RBIs (36). He finishes second in home runs with six.

No doubt the 6-foot-4 Lewis from Snellville, Ga., has a bright future.

Dylan Ingram didn’t play at Mississippi State, D.J. Smith logged only 28 at-bats at Georgia and Jonathan Herkins was limited to 10 at-bats for World Series-bound Cal-Irvine. Matt Furuto had only 39 at-bats at Alabama-Birmingham.

All had great summers.

Ingram hit .273 with three home runs and tied for the league lead in RBIs (36). The speedy Smith covered plenty of room in right, while hitting .302 with a team-high 10 stolen bases. Herkins hit .288 with six stolen bases.

Furuto batted .289 with nine doubles and 19 RBIs.

James Naile (Alabama-Birmingham) was coming off Tommy John elbow surgery and didn’t give up run in 10 innings.

Then, there was Shawnee product Cory Wilder (North Carolina State), who had trouble with his command in high school.

After throwing nine innings at N.C. State, with a 6.75 ERA, Wilder showed control of his fastball and breaking ball this summer. With his 94-95 mph fastball, he was named the pitching prospect of the year.

Wilder finished 3-1 with a 2.63 ERA. He led the league with 60 strikeouts in 44 innings. Wilder also set a Locos’ single-game record with 16 strikeouts. He threw a two-hit shutout over Licking County in Game 2 of the playoffs.

Right-hander Dan Sexton came from Tiffin and proved he could be as effective in the GLCL as he was at Tiffin. He was one of the top pitchers in the league with his moving change-up and went 3-0 with a 1.62 ERA.

The Locos have had 13 players play in the major leagues. In fact, there have been three in the majors this season in relievers Craig Stammen (Washington), Burke Badenhop (Boston) and Chad Jenkins (Toronto).

Hopefully, a few of this year’s Locos’ crop will be drafted or sign and make a run up the minor league ladder.

Or if the summer in Lima helped them become a little bit better as players, or people, their time here will be well spent.

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