HEBRON – Following an 0-4 start, Johnstown may be starting to put things together at just the right time.
Dalton Hastings pitched a complete-game six-hitter — after retiring the first 13 batters — and the visiting Johnnies used a six-run fifth inning to pound Lakewood 9-3 on Monday for their first Licking County League victory.
“The last three games have been really impressive,” said senior leadoff man Brendan Barasch, who keyed the six-run uprising with a two-run single. “We went from six errors in our first game to none today. We got two consecutive two-hit shutouts over the weekend.”
Hastings is the No. 4 pitcher for Johnstown (3-4, 1-2), but pitched more like a No. 1. The Lancers (0-7, 0-5) didn’t have a baserunner until one out in the fifth, when Austin Myers beat out an infield single. He struck out seven, walked one and kept Lakewood off-balance with his breaking stuff, getting the Lancers to consistently get under the ball. Eleven outs were recorded in the air.
“I used a lot of curveballs, a lot of off-speed,” he said. “I can’t blow it by anyone. As long as I throw first-pitch strikes, I can be pretty effective.”
Coach Justin Richards said the curve was definitely his out pitch. “He was spotting it, inside and out,” he said.
Barasch said Hastings trusts his defense. “Just throw strikes, and let them hit it,” he said.
Freshman Will Schmitt drew a bases-loaded walk in the first, and Hastings helped his own cause in the third when his two-out single scored Cody Workman, who had doubled. Then, the floodgates opened in the fifth.
Ethan Clift had an RBI groundout, Nate Brown an RBI single and Trent Coe an RBI grounder before Barasch delivered his clutch hit to left.
“I hope to hit in those situations,” Barasch said. “It’s been that way since I was younger.”
Hastings tired a bit in the end as Lakewood pushed across three late runs, but he finished the job. Scotty Painter singled and scored on a two-out throwing error, Tanner Shriver lashed an RBI double and Devon Middlemus added an RBI single.
“He was one batter away from coming out,” Richards admitted.
Workman doubled and singled, Cody Rayburn doubled and Hastings had two singles for the winners. Painter had two hits for Lakewood, which was hurt by five errors. Quinn Chapman took the loss, walking three, hitting two and striking out one while allowing six hits.
“We’re hitting the ball a lot better,” Hastings said. “Being more aggressive and looking for first-pitch fastballs. We need to stay hot on offense and keep pitching really well.”
Richards said the Johnnies are starting to figure out the little things it takes to compete in the tough LCL.
“Being in the game on every pitch, every at bat,” he said. “I think we’re starting to click.”