PAINESVILLE, OHIO – On the strength of five home runs, the Lake Erie College baseball team blasted its way to a pair of wins over visiting Tiffin University on Sunday (April 10), 14-7 and 9-1, giving the Storm a sweep of the four-game weekend series.
Juniors Jae Leeworthy (Newton Falls, Ohio/Newton Falls) and Brayan Cacique (Lakeland C.C.) homered in each game as the Storm (14-12, 7-7 GLIAC) moved above the .500 this late into a season for the first time and evened its Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) mark on the season.
Lake Erie fell behind 7-0 after the first inning of game one, but four relievers combine to shut the Dragons (8-21, 5-10 GLIAC) down the rest of the way. Freshman Brad Raley (Hinkley, Ohio/Medina Highland) threw 3 2/3 scoreless innings after entering the game with the bases loaded after the first seven Dragons reached base.
Redshirt freshman Ricky Volante (Tappahannock, Va./Tappahannock) followed with two hitless innings, sophomore Doug Fox (Parma, Ohio/Valley Forge) struck out the only batter he faced and sophomore Adam Beach (Vermilion, Ohio/Vermilion) pitched a perfect final inning.
The Storm offense, meanwhile, scored in just two innings, but made it count. Sophomore catcher Mike Fabri (Lorain, Ohio/Amherst) belted a three-run homer to put the Storm on the board in the fourth and junior Matt Toth (Lorain, Ohio/Admiral King) scored on a wild pitch later in the frame to make it 7-4.
After a scoreless fifth, Lake Erie exploded for 10 runs in the sixth. Junior Ryan Rua (Amherst, Ohio/Amherst Steele) doubled in a run and senior Brand James (Mentor, Ohio/Mentor) brought in two more with a single up the middle, tying the game. Leeworthy followed with a three-run blast down the left field line to put the Storm ahead. After Toth drove in a run with a base hit, Cacique put the game away with a three-run bomb of his own to center field to cap the Storm's biggest inning of the season.
Fox (1-0) was credited with the win on the mound. Kyle Pilbeam (0-3) took the loss, giving up five runs on three hits in just 1/3 of an inning. Cory Osborne had two hits for the Dragons, who had just one base hit after the first inning.
Leeworthy had three hits in the opener and Rua and James each had two. Toth scored three times while Leeworthy and freshman Reid Rizzo (Cincinnati, Ohio/LaSalle) each crossed home twice.
In game two, sophomore Tyler Minnich (Lagrange, Ohio/Keystone) tossed a gem. In his first career complete game, he scattered six hits – all singles – and allowed just one first inning run in seven innings. He walked a batter and struck out three to pick up his first win of the season (1-2).
After spotting Tiffin a run in the top of the inning, the Storm bats quickly went to work in their half. After toth reach on a fielding error, Cacique hit his team-leading fifth home run to put LEC in front. Later in the inning, Leeworthy added a two-run double and the Storm had a 4-1 lead.
A two-run homer by Leeworthy and a sacrifice fly from classmate Kyle Kemp (Fredericksburg, Va./James Monroe) pushed the lead to 7-1 in the third and Toth and Rua each drove in runs in the fourth for the final 9-1 margin.
Minnich was never really in trouble after the first. He did allow the first two batters to reach in the seventh, but retired the next three hitters to close the game.
Leeworthy drove in a season-high four runs and finished with seven RBI on five hits on the day. Cacique, who has homered in three straight games, went 2-for-3 with two RBI in the nightcap. Rua was 3-for-4 with two runs scored in game two, extending his hitting streak to 10 games. James and Toth also each had two hits and scored twice.
Cory Osborne drove in Tiffin's only run in the second game. Chris Pistorio went just three innings, allowing seven runs (six earned) on eight hits and suffered the loss (2-2).
Lake Erie, which has won seven of its last 10 games, travels to the University of Toledo on Tuesday, April 12, for a single nine-inning game against the Division I Rockets.