Working in a muggy warehouse was not what Kyle Lambright had in mind for portions of his summer break.
The Licking County Settlers baseball team hopes to finish the regular season strong this week in an effort to qualify for the Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League playoffs.
The Settlers won the regular-season title last summer and then were runners-up in the tournament, but that was under the old one-division format. The GLSCL was split into two divisions - North and South -- this season.
The top two teams in each division will advance, as will the two teams with the next-best records regardless of division.
Licking County has struggled this month. The Settlers were 13-9 entering July 4 but 17-18 before playing North Division leader Lima on July 22 and 23.
The Settlers were second in the North behind Lima, which was 21-11. Lake Erie was third at 16-18.
"It looks like we'll have to finish second to make it because the two (wildcard spots) will likely go to the South (Division)," said first-year coach Devin McIntosh, whose team beat Stark County 7-1 on July 21. "We've got to start winning some of these games shortly."
Licking County will play five games this week, with road contests Tuesday, July 26, against Grand Lake and Wednesday, July 27, against Stark County. The Settlers will close the regular season by playing host to Lake Erie on Thursday and Friday, July 28 and 29, and to Grand Lake on July 31.
"These guys are still playing hard and they're in a good place mentally despite some recent struggles," McIntosh said. "We went through a tough stretch of 13 games in 12 days and we lost five players in a four-day stretch. We lost four of them to season-ending injuries and another one had to go back to school.
"But the new guys have mixed in well and the camaraderie and effort are still there. There's not one of them who has the desire to quit or hang it up for the season. We've just got some very good guys in terms of ability and desire."
Through 34 games, Wes Meadows (2B/LF) was among the league leaders in batting average (.342, seventh), home runs (5, second) and RBI (22, tied for third). He also had 19 runs and nine doubles.
"Wes Meadows has had a tremendous season," McIntosh said. "We knew he was very talented and we expected great things out of him."
Center fielder Alex Johnson was batting .311 with 23 runs, 18 RBI, nine doubles and 12 stolen bases. He was tied for third in the league in runs.
Right fielder Nick Schulz was hitting .301 with a league-best 25 runs and also had nine doubles.
Third baseman David Schwabe was hitting .295 with 21 runs, followed by left fielder and first baseman Tyler Wynn (.286 with 20 runs, 20 RBI and a team-best 15 doubles) and shortstop Peyton Hart (.283). Wynn led the league in doubles and was tied for fifth in RBI.
Tyler Vaske (4-1, 1.66 ERA), Grant Porter (1-2, 2.36 ERA), Brent Choban (3-1, 3.90 ERA), Brock Trimbur (2-3, 4.07 ERA) and Ben Trimbur (0-2, 4.45 ERA) led starting pitchers.
Pitching well in relief have been Andrew Austin (0-0, 1.04 ERA in 8 2/3 innings), Spencer Radabaugh (0-1, 1.93 ERA in 18 2/3 innings), Justin Warrington (1-0, 2.46 ERA in 11 innings), Seth Willoughby (1-0, 2.57 ERA in 7 innings), Brett Barber (1-2, 2.91 ERA in 21 2/3 innings), Charlie Suich (0-1, 3.22 ERA in 22 1/3 innings) and Corey Schultz (1-2, 3.31 ERA in 16 1/3 innings).
Injuries and starting pitching forced a little downslide, but McIntosh remains confident the team will finish strong.
"Injuries and roster changes are part of the game and you've got to adjust on the fly," he said. "There's nothing holding this team back from winning five in a row."