PAINESVILLE, OHIO – Brandon James hit a walk-off two-run home run in extra innings to give the Lake Erie College baseball team a 4-2 win in game two and doubleheader sweep over visiting Ashland University on Thursday afternoon (April 28) at Braggs Field. Ryan Rua (Amherst, Ohio/Amherst Steele) hit the go-ahead home run in game one as the Storm won 5-4.
Watch highlights from both games, including James' home run, below.
The win moves Lake Erie above .500 for the season at 19-18 and evens its Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) record at 12-12. The 19 wins are the most in a single season in school history.
The day got off to a great start for the Storm as junior outfielder Matt Toth (Lorain, Ohio/Admiral King) led off the bottom of the first inning of game one with a solo home run to right field. A single classmate Matt Vanni (Willowick, Ohio/Cleveland Benedictine) drove in a run in the second to make it 2-0.
The teams traded runs in the third inning, with Tyler Gray hitting a sacrifice fly and sophomore Pat Kilway (Tallmadge, Ohio/Tallmadge) driving in Rua for the Storm.
The Storm built its lead to 4-1 in the fourth when Toth, who had three hits in the game, scored on an error. But the Eagles rallied to tie the game in the fifth on a three-run home run by Ryan Avery followed a bloop single and an error.
The momentum quickly shifted back to Lake Erie in the bottom of the inning when Rua hammered the first pitch of the frame from Ajay Meyer over the centerfield fence.
Glenn Stewart (Strattanville, Pa./Clarion Limestone) pitched into the sixth and sophomore Doug Fox (Parma, Ohio/Valley Forge) closed out the inning and Rua struck out two in the seventh to earn his second save.
Stewart (3-0) surrendered three earned runs (four earned) on eight hits, walked two and struck out three in 5 1/3 innings. Meyer (7-3) also allowed eight hits in a complete game effort, allowing five runs (four earned) with five strikeouts.
Rua had two hits and both he and Toth scored twice. Evan Melendez and Michael Manser each had two hits for Ashland (25-16, 14-12 GLIAC).
Junior Jae Leeworthy (Newton Falls, Ohio/Newton Falls) doubled in the first run of game two in the second inning, scoring James (Mentor, Ohio/Mentor). A single by junior Kyle Kemp (Fredericksburg, Va./James Monroe) scored Rua in the fourth to make it a 2-0 game.
The only time the Eagles got to sophomore Logan Nordquist (Alliance, Ohio/Alliance) was in the fifth, when Melendez hit a two-run shot to center to tie the game. Otherwise, Nordquist held the Eagles in check, scattering eight hits over six innings. He walked just one and struck out two.
The Storm bullpen took over after that with Fox, freshman Brad Raley (Hinkley, Ohio/Medina Highland) and junior Mike Morgan (Russells Point, Ohio/Russells Point) each throwing a hitless inning of relief.
Ashland starter Aaron Hilt (5-2) was just as good through the first eight frames. He gave up just four hits and two walks while striking out five before Rua singled to lead off the ninth.
After two unsuccessful attempts at a sacrifice bunt, James connected on a 2-2 pitch from Hilt and blasted it over the scoreboard in left center to send the Storm to its fourth straight victory.
Rua had two more hits and scored two more runs in game two while Kemp also had two hits in the nightcap. Melendez and Gray each had a pair of hits for the Eagles.
Morgan (1-0) earned the win in relief.
The Storm, currently in sole possession of fourth place in the GLIAC standings, travels to Saginaw Valley State University this weekend for an important four-game series with the fifth-place Cardinals beginning Saturday, April 30, at 1 p.m.