ELIDA — After weeks of struggling to get key hits and eke out offense, Elida’s bats have suddenly gotten hot at the perfect time.
The Bulldogs scored 11 runs for the second-straight night to claim their second-straight win Thursday, beating Lima Senior 11-1 in a five-inning non-league game.
The timing for Elida is good for two reasons: One the squad is getting ready to jump into the postseason and two, Thursday’s game was for the Scott Harmon-Tyler Williams Memorial Trophy. The game is played each year between the Spartans and Bulldogs to honor Elida graduate Harmon and Lima Senior grad Williams, who died in 2007 in the Bluffton University bus crash.
“It is a big deal, Scotty meant a lot to Elida, not just the baseball program but the community as well,” Elida coach Todd Grapner said. “His family is always here and having his brother throw out the first pitch tonight was a nice touch.
“The Harmons have been playing baseball here forever so we always want to play well in this game, and we’ve certainly done that lately. We’ve kept the trophy for several years now.”
A lot of the current varsity players may have been too young to remember Harmon or Williams, but they know the families and certainly understand the importance of the game.
“It’s really something special to come out here and win,” Elida centerfielder Adam Purdy said. “We’re playing for the parents and Scotty. It’s really sad something like this had to happen, but at least we have a game to honor them and make the families feel special.”
Purdy had a big hand in Elida’s offensive outburst Thursday. Purdy went 4-for-4 with a triple, a double, an RBI and a run scored.
“When you go into the postseason, this is how you want to feel,” Purdy said. “We’re hitting, our defense is playing well and we’re pitching well. Our hitting has been iffy all year and right now we’re clicking.”
The Bulldogs finished with 15 hits. Josh Bull had two singles, three runs scored and two RBIs; Travis Watkins went three-for-four with a triple and three runs scored and Jared Blymyer doubled twice with two RBIs and a run scored.
Josh Bull got the victory on the mound, allowing just one run, one walk, seven hits and striking out five batters.
“Josh is a young guy, a sophomore, and he throws a lot of strikes,” Grapner said. “He’s in the zone a lot, and guys have to be ready to make plays, and we did the job tonight.”
Lima Senior Brady Allen took the loss as the Spartans fell to 2-19.
“Brady pitched a great game, I thought, defensively we had a couple let downs but it was pretty solid,” Lima Senior first-year head coach Frank Crea said. “The kids play hard but we’re a young team. When we make a mistake, it’s hard to overcome. When a veteran team makes a mistake, they can overcome it, and we’re just not at that point yet.”
The Spartans threatened some big innings, such as the fourth when they loaded the bases with one out, but couldn’t come up with the key hit. Josiah Shoemaker reached base all three times up, walking once, singling twice and scoring while Aaron Reed and Allen each singled twice.
Though Lima Senior has struggled, the numbers are up. A year ago, the program barely fielded a team. Under Crea this season, it got enough players for a JV squad for the first time in many years.
On Thursday, Crea dressed all 24 of his players.
“We dressed everybody today to let them experience this game,” Crea said, referring to the Harmon-Williams Memorial. “I thought it was important to let them experience this game.”
Lima Senior will take on Bowling Green in the Division I sectional tournament Saturday.
Elida (9-14) takes on Shawnee in a Western Buckeye League makeup game today before playing Shawnee again Saturday in the Division II sectional tournament.