EASTLAKE, OHIO – Pitching dominated the weekend series between the Lake Erie College baseball team and visiting Wayne State University. The two teams combined for a total of 17 runs in the four games, including 10 in two games Sunday (May 8) as the Storm's season came to an end with a pair of 3-2 defeats on Senior Day at Classic Park.
Lake Erie (21-25, 14-20 GLIAC) led game one 2-0 on a sacrifice fly by senior Brandon James (Mentor, Ohio/Mentor) in the first inning and a third inning single by junior shortstop Ryan Rua (Amherst, Ohio/Amherst).
Wayne State (30-17, 22-13)scored a run in the fifth and then got two in the sixth with the go ahead run scoring on a ground ball by Kyle Vessey.
The Storm had just one hit after the third inning, a lead-off single in the seventh by junior designated hitter Kyle Kemp (Fredericksburg, Va./James Monroe).
Tyler Loehr (3-5) went the distance for Wayne State. He allowed two runs on five hits with just one walk. He struck out seven.
Freshman Brad Raley (Hinkley, Ohio/Medina Highland) did not factor in the decision in his first collegiate start. He gave up just three hits and two runs in five-plus innings. Sophomore Doug Fox (Parma, Ohio/Valley Forge), the first of three Storm relievers, suffered the loss, allowing a run on a hit in 1/3 of an inning, to fall to 1-2 on the year.
Rua and classmate Matt Toth (Lorain, Ohio/Admiral King) each had two hits for Lake Erie, with Toth scoring both Storm runs. Michael Wiseman had a pair of hits and scored once to lead the Warrior offense in the opener.
Toth led off game two with a double, but the Storm got little after that until the sixth. The first three hitters singled and junior Brayan Cacique (Caracas, Venezuela/Lakeland C.C.) hit a fly ball to score a run. Andrew Ciennik mishandled Kemp's grounder to allow James to score the second run.
The Storm's inning could have been bigger, but Alex Pierse picked off Toth after his lead-off single, the second time he caught a Lake Erie runner off first.
Lake Erie put two on with two outs in the seventh, but closer Billy Hurley escaped trouble for his seventh save.
It was the first time in the series that Wayne State went to the bullpen. Warrior starters pitched 27 of the 28 innings on the weekend.
After three scoreless frames to start the game, the Warriors scored twice in the fourth after loading the bases. Brent Weil singled in a run and Cameron Walker added a sacrifice fly. Wayne State tacked on another run in the fifth when Caleb Dalman scored on a wild pitch.
Senior Zach Justice (Cleveland, Ohio/John Marshall) made his first start of the season, allowing three runs on five hits with two walks and a strikeout. Sophomore Jimmy Shaw (Holland, Ohio/Toledo St. John) tossed three innings of shutout relief.
Toth had three hits in game two, while Rua and James had one each. The trio ended the season with the three highest season hit totals in school history (68-Rua, 65-James, 62-Toth).
Pierse(5-3) allowed two runs (one earned) on four hits in six innings. He walked two and struck out five. Kyle Vessey had two hits for the Warriors.
Prior to the game, Lake Erie recognized James and Justice. James ends his baseball career at LEC as the leader in nearly 20 statistical categories most notably games played, hits, average and stolen bases. Justice ranks third all-time on the school's games pitched list.