PAINESVILLE, OHIO – After opening the season with 15 road games, the Lake Erie College baseball team made its debut in front of the home fans on Wednesday (March 28), splitting a nonconference doubleheader with traditional rival Notre Dame College at Braggs Field. The Storm exploded for a season-high in runs in a 16-9 win in the opener, while the Falcons took the nightcap, 8-5.
On a windy spring day, a nine-run fourth inning spurred the Storm (7-10) to victory in game one.
After Notre Dame (10-15-1) scored an unearned run in the first, senior Brayan Cacique (Caracas, Venezuela/John I. Leonard/Lakeland C.C.) belted his first home run of the season, a two-run shot to straight away center, to give LEC a 2-1 lead.
The Falcons took advantage of an error and a wild pitch to score three times in the top of the second, but the Storm responded with three of their own in the bottom half – all with two outs. Sophomore Reid Rizzo (Cincinnati, Ohio/LaSalle) had an RBI single in the hole at shortstop and senior Matt Toth (Lorain, Ohio/Admiral King) followed with a two-run single up the middle to make it 5-4.
Notre Dame's T.J. Deininger and Jesse Bartle hit back-to-back home runs to open the third inning to retake the lead.
But Lake Erie sent 14 men to the plate in the bottom half of the inning, scoring all nine runs again with two outs. Cacique started the scoring with a two-run double to center and scored on a single by senior Kyle Kemp (Fredericksburg, Va./James Monroe). Later in the inning, senior Jae Leeworthy (Newton Falls, Ohio/Newton Falls) delivered a bases-loaded double to score three and Toth drove in two more with a single to left to make it a 14-6 game.
Cody Blood (Conneaut, Ohio/Conneaut) and Garrett Emling (Tallmadge, Ohio/Tallmadge) added two-out RBI singles in the fifth to make it 16-6. In fact, 14 of Lake Erie's 16 runs were scored with two outs.
Toth finished game one 3-for-4 and Cacique was 2-for-5, both scoring twice and driving in four runs. Leeworthy also had three hits and three RBI. Every Storm starter had at least one hit and scored a run.
Freshman Cory Fox (Vermilion, Ohio/Vermilion) earned his first collegiate win in relief. Fox (1-0) allowed two runs on five hits in three-plus innings. He walked two and struck out two. Matt Kastelic (2-1) took the loss, giving up 10 runs on nine hits in 3 2/3 innings. He struck out five and walked three.
Notre Dame's Taylor Neville hit a three-run homer in the top of the first inning in game two, but that would be the only scoring through the first four innings. The Falcons extended their lead to 5-0 with a pair of runs in fifth.
Lake Erie tied the game with a five-run bottom half of the fifth. Junior Zach Mosbarger (Bellefontaine, Ohio/Bellefontaine) doubled in a run and scored when Brad Morrison had trouble handling Emling's double in the gap. Freshman Aaron Lindgren (Willoughby, Ohio/South) picked up his second RBI of the day with a double to score Emling. Senior Josh Crout (Hamilton, Ohio/Edgewood) added a sacrifice fly and senior Nick Lovick (Mentor, Ohio/Mentor) singled in a run to knot the game at 5-5.
But just as quick as the Storm tied it, the Falcons took the lead right back. Morrison made up for his miscue in the field by sending Mike Morgan's (Russells Point, Ohio/Indian Lake) first pitch of the sixth over the center field fence. Jon Koepf then singled, went to second on a failed pick off and then scored on an errant throw to second on a stolen base attempt by pinch runner Matt Fritz. Mike Ferguson singled in Fritz later in the frame and the Falcons had a three-run lead again.
Travis Bondy (1-2) allowed the Storm to tie the game in the 5th but picked up the win. Sean Harnish earned his first save with two shutout innings.
Morgan (1-2) allowed three runs (two hits) on three hits and took the loss.
Mosbarger, Lindgren and Crout each had two hits in the nightcap. Ferguson went 3-for-4 for the Falcons while Morrison and Jim Jaksa each had two hits.
The Storm resumes conference play this weekend with a four-game series against Hillsdale College at home starting Saturday, March 31. First pitch for that doubleheader is set for 1 p.m.