CHILLICOTHE, OHIO – Despite having the lead three times after the eighth inning, the third-seeded Lake Erie College baseball team was unable to put away fifth-seeded Saginaw Valley State University and the Cardinals ultimately pulled out a 7-6 win in 15 innings Friday (May 11) to eliminate the Storm from the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) Tournament and end LEC's season in heart-breaking fashion.
The Storm (27-26) led 4-3 in the ninth, 5-4 in the 10th and 6-5 in the 15th but each time Saginaw Valley State (26-25) came back, finally ending the 4:13 marathon contest on a bases-loaded squeeze bunt by Jason Potts to score Brandon Schwanz.
Lake Erie led 3-0 thanks to some early Cardinal miscues, but Saginaw Valley came back to tie it with a three-run fourth, highlighted by Mike VanAlst's two-run double.
A solo home run by junior 3B Cody Blood (Conneaut, Ohio/Conneaut) in the sixth put the Storm up a run but Cam Wiechman drove in the tying run with one out in the bottom of the ninth to force extra innings.
The Storm again took the lead in the 10th thanks to back-to-back throwing errors by the Cardinals, but Saginaw Valley loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the inning and Schwanz tied it again with a sacrifice fly.
The Cardinals had a chance to win it in the 11th, but senior CF Brayan Cacique (Caracas, Venezuela/John I. Leonard/Lakeland C.C.) threw out Potts at the plate to keep the game tied.
After another Cardinal error – their fifth of the game – freshman 2B Sean Mathews (Washington, Mich./Warren De La Salle) singled to score sophomore OF Garrett Emling (Tallmadge, Ohio/Tallmadge) and again give the Storm a one-run lead, 6-5.
Dan Norton opened the bottom of the 15th with a single and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt. Schwanz was hit by a pitch and Michael Craig singled down to right field to score Norton and tie the game. After an intentional walk, Potts laid down the perfect bunt and Schwanz came racing in with the winning run.
Junior 1B Pat Kilway (Tallmadge, Ohio/Tallmadge) and Cacique each had two hits for the Storm. Lake Erie had nine hits in the game, but didn't have a hit in extra innings until Mathews' single in the 15th.
Junior Logan Nordquist (Alliance, Ohio/Alliance) went 5 1/3 innings, allowing three runs on eight hits. Junior reliever Doug Fox (Parma, Ohio/Valley Forge) allowed just two hits in 3 1/3 innings, but one was Wiechman's game-tying double. Junior Tyler Minnich (LaGrange, Ohio/Keystone), the fifth Lake Erie pitcher, suffered the loss (0-2). He allowed two runs on four hits in 3 1/3 innings.
Lake Erie pitchers combined to walk 10 hitters.
Wiechmann, who went 3-for-6, was one of six Cardinals with at least two hits. Despite giving up the go-ahead run in the top of the 15th, Aaron Woods (2-0) picked up the win. He followed Justin Drzewicki who tossed five innings of hitless relief.