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Ninth inning struggles overshadow Tommy Lamb’s performance

Mequon, Wis. — Two runs scored in the top of the ninth for the Kokomo Jackrabbits (4-1) erased what was a shutout game for the Chinooks and resulted in a disappointing loss (2-3).

Grafton native, Tommy Lamb started his seventh game of the season and his longest by far. From the beginning, it was three-up and three-down on eight pitches. Lamb was able to work pitches that Jackrabbit batters weren’t able to put into play. 

When adversity struck Lamb in the next inning, he remained calm, relying on the seven men behind him to do the job, working out of a jam with runners on second and third. 

Within a matter of moments, Lakeshore went from being sat down one-two-three in the second to almost scoring a run. The Chinooks’ new arrival Justin Olson was sat down on strikes while Connor Kimple who is just batting under .200 grounded out.

But nonetheless, Mack Timbrook reached first base safely on a hard-hit grounder to shortstop and Adam Crampton was unable to make the throw. Seconds later, Indiana State’s Mike Sears powered a deep liner down the left-field line, and just like that Lakeshore faithful were to their feet. 

However, signs of disappointment took to the air as Timbrook was waved home by third base coach Bladen Bales but was tagged out by a mile and their chances got shot down. 

Lakeshore failed to find runs, let alone hits, but a set of three consecutive walks in the third led to the first and only Chinook run of the evening. 

“I thought we some balls hard at guys all night and got nothing to show for it unfortunately and that’s the game,” said field manager Travis Akre on his team’s inability to capitalize Saturday. 

Beauvais did not last after that as he totaled 48 pitches in three innings of work, allowing one run on three walks. 

Back-to-back strikeouts initiated the fourth and a sliding catch from Aide in left-center sent Lamb back to the dugout happier than ever. However, in the latter half of the same inning, the Chinooks continued to put balls in play, unable to locate holes in the strong Kokomo defense. 

Through the fifth and sixth innings, it was a stalemate for both sides. Superb pitching complemented outstanding defense and neither team was able to do much of anything. 

After two outs were recorded in the seventh, a standing ovation from Kapco Park capped off a one-of-a-kind night for pitcher Tommy Lamb. Six and two-thirds innings pitched on four hits, one walk and five strikeouts. 

“I thought Tommy Lamb pitched very well,” Akre said. “He deserved to get a win and we just couldn’t get enough going offensively behind him. We were going to try to ride him out as long as we could and he was efficient.”

The fire-throwing Mitch Mueller closed out the final play with a quick-reflex catch. Mueller relinquished the next three outs in a similar fashion as Lamb has done all night- three-up and three-down on a trio of grounders. 

The Chinooks looked to add an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth in order to allow their closer some breathing room. But the inning did not go as planned; Aide, Gray and Olson all saw strike three. 

A ninth-inning meltdown transpired, starting with a no-out double to right field. Ball State’s Tyler Sweitzer was given the nod to close things out but allowed consecutive hits to the Jackrabbits with one of them being an RBI single to center that tied the game. 

“Tyler missed on a pitch and it cost a run unfortunately but he wants to be in that situation and we want him in that situation,” Akre said. 

Lakeshore ultimately lost, 2-1, despite leaving the game-tying run in Connor Kimple just 90-feet from. The game concluded on a dribbler up the middle from Dalton Doyle that was contained by the second baseman who stepped on second. 

The Chinooks host Kokomo once again Sunday for Game 2, with the first pitch at 5:05 p.m.