JACKSONVILLE, Ill. – Strong Illinois-Springfield pitching, cold temperatures and hitting struggles conspired to produce a 6-2 Lake Erie loss on Saturday evening.
The Storm (5-3) scored in just one inning – the fifth – and Illinois-Springfield (4-2) took advantage of a rare LEC error in taking an early lead and then holding it from wire to wire.
Junior right-hander Russ Hogue started for the Storm, and he was touched up for a pair of unearned runs after his own error on a bunt play. That 2-0 score would hold up for the Prairie Stars and their starter, Drew Sabol.
Hogue settled the game down and, but for a solo home run allowed in the bottom of the fourth, kept the scorebook clean. For his part, Sabol answered and at one point retired 12 straight LEC batters. That streak ended with a Dylan Yankle single with two outs in the fifth. That hit was followed by a walk and then RBI singles by Rutger Luebke and Josh Hudeck. By the end of the inning, Lake Erie trailed by one run (3-2).
Bolstered by that rally, Hogue cruised through the fifth, sixth and seventh innings.
In the top of the sixth, Lake Erie missed a golden opportunity to score when Zack DeCamp doubled and advanced to third on an error. With two outs to work with the Storm misfired and came up empty.
The rest of the way it was all-UIS. Juniopr reliever Kyle Schildroth came on in the seventh and he would go the rest of the way without yielding so much as one base runner.
Hogue's mastery hit a wall in the eighth, and the Prairie Stars scored three times to close out the scoring at 6-2. The veteran right-hander went 7-1/3 innings, allowing six runs (four earned) on seven hits. He walked two and struck out three and induced 10 groundball outs.
D.J. Stastny closed out the eighth with a pair of strikeouts.
Lake Erie's offense was hamstrung, in part, by the team's inability to pressure Illinois-Springfield at the beginning of innings. LEC went 0-for-9 in getting aboard when leading off innings. Head Coach Brian McGee also noted Lake Erie's approach at the plate as a concern: "Hitters need to start the game with more ambition. We have to attack the game. What I saw tonight was too much complacency. That's no way to score early and often."
Notes: Aaron Lindgren singled in four at-bats. He has hit safely in every game this season. … The Prairie Stars wrangled three extra-base hits (two doubles, home run) on Saturday. That marks a season-high yielded by LEC pitching. Storm batters managed just one extra-base hit on Saturday and their power game has produced just one double in each of the last five games.
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