LIMA — Here’s one scary thought: Locos right-hander Cory Wilder said he didn’t have his “best stuff.”
But his fastball and breaking ball were plenty strong enough to take care of Licking County on Thursday.
Wilder (North Carolina State) fired a complete-game two-hitter in a 5-0 victory over Licking County in Game 2 of the semifinal best-of-three series at Simmons Field.
The series is even at 1-1. The final game of the semifinals series, Game 3, will be at 7 tonight at Simmons Field. The winner advances to the best-of-three championship series.
Wilder usually throws his fastball around 95 mph, but Thursday, he was generally around 89 to 90 and topped out at 92.
“I didn’t think any of my pitches were at their best, but I had all three,” Wilder, from Shawnee High School, said. “I had the fastball, slider and change and worked them in and out. … In the bullpen I knew it was going to be a battle. I didn’t have my velocity or control, but when I got on the mound, I was OK. The first inning was kind of rough, but after that it was OK.”
Locos coach Chad Ehrnsberger said, “This was the most hittable his stuff has been, but he still went out there and threw a two-hit shutout. That proves how good Cory can be. He hit in the 90s once or twice. He had normal fastball velocity, but he went out there and showed how competitive he is. He used his offspeed well, located the fastball and to me this is his most impressive performance of the summer.”
Wilder gave up two hits over his nine innings of work. He struck out five and walked two. He threw 110 pitches, 69 for strikes.
“I had the breaking ball in the first inning. I had to have it because I didn’t have my full deal (my velocity),” Wilder said.
Wilder had six 1-2-3 innings and threw 61 percent first-pitch strikes.
The Locos kicked off the game with a D.J. Smith triple into the right-field corner. He came home on an RBI groundout to second by Matt Furuto. That gave the Locos a 1-0 lead after the first inning.
In the third Matt Spruill reached on a walk. He took second on a passed ball and went to third on a bunt by Jalen Washington. D.J. Smith’s RBI groundout to second gave the Locos a 2-0 lead.
Wilder pounded the strike zone with his fastball and breaking ball most of the night. He had a string of retiring 15 straight hitters from the first to the sixth innings. In the sixth however, Licking loaded the bases on a walk, single and an error.
With two outs and the bases loaded in the sixth, Wilder struck out Austin Garcia on a breaking ball to escape damage.
“I had to bear down on that guy and I got him on a slider,” Wilder said.
The Locos added three runs in the seventh to make it 5-0. Washington had a single, and with an error on the right fielder, a run scored. D.J. Smith’s RBI single made it 4-0. Furuto had an RBI fielder’s choice grounder and it was 5-0.
With Wilder firing strikes, that was more than enough to set up Game 3.
“Last night didn’t end our way and we should have had that game,” Wilder said. “Tonight we had to have a win and did what we had to do.”
Locos notes: The Locos will send Luke Crumley (Georgia) to the mound today.
Locos right-hander Tyler Anderson (Bowling Green/Shawnee) pitched 1 1/3 shutout innings in Game 1, but left when he “tweaked” his right elbow/biceps. He was seen by the doctor at Bowling Green today and was shut down for the playoffs with a strained right biceps.
Locos outfielder Jonathan Herkins (Cal-Irvine) is still having pain when he swings a bat with his injured wrist. He hurt it slamming into the fence at Hamilton last week.
The Locos lost Game 1, 10-9, on a walkoff strikeout/wild pitch. Locos right-hander Erich Stahl appeared to strike out Nick Paxton, but the ball nosed dived after Paxton missed. It hit the dirt and scooted well away from Locos catcher Mason George. That allowed Paxton to reach first and Woody Wallace to score from third with the game-winning run.
The Locos had led the game 8-0 in the fourth inning. For the Locos, Kyle Lewis went 3 for 5. Daniel Garner went 1 for 4 with a three-run home run and four RBIs. Dylan Ingram went 3 for 3 with two walks. Brett Carlson was 3 for 4 with three RBIs.
Licking County infielder Kolin McMillen (Flagler) batted .404 during the season, but hasn’t appeared in any of the Settlers’ three playoff games. He has injuries to his wrist and ankle.