WASHINGTON, Pa. – Lake Erie's offense was shut out once and shut down twice in a pair of losses at California (Pa.) on Saturday. The Vulcans claimed the wins by scores of 1-0 and 8-1.
The Storm (6-5) were outhit, 14-9, over the two contests at Consol Energy Park, and all nine of LEC's hits were singles. Lake Erie pitchers walked seven on the day; their California (6-5) counterparts issued just two free passes in 14 innings. As for all the intangibles that go into winning baseball, Head Coach Brian McGee clearly believed the Storm played well below their capabilities.
"We again put on our spikes with no sense of how to go out and beat someone," said McGee. "We preach team concept, and playing hard with guts. Today I saw a lot more individualism and giving up, which is not typical of the type of play Storm baseball is known for. I fully expect to see more from my guys tomorrow."
The host Vulcans put three straight singles together in the bottom of the first, plating a solo run for starting pitcher Mick Fennell, The California right-hander would cruise, never really getting in trouble in dispatching the Storm the rest of the way.
Lake Erie pitching matched Fennell from the second inning on. A combination of Brad Raley (two innings), Josh Porter (2-2/3) and Brandon Grunda (1-1/3) would allow just three more hits the rest of the game. But Fennell held LEC to three hits total – all three were singles and none were attached to an RBI,
Fennell finished off the 1-0 shutout with five strikeouts and no walks. He induced nine ground-ball outs, two of which led to double plays.
The second game would be dominated by pitchers Jack Dennis and Brian Kilway, with both hanging zeroes until the bottom of the fifth when California occupied and circled the bases to the tune of an eight-run outburst.
Even with a big lead, Dennis gave no quarter. He went six innings, and those frames were marred by only five singles and a walk. LEC tallied its lone run in the sixth, when the Storm loaded the bases but pushed across just one on an RBI walk by Zack DeCamp.
Kilway went four scoreless innings for the Green & White. The Lake Erie bullpen was uncharacteristically touched up for eight runs (six earned) on six hits and three walks. California hitters managed four extra-base hits (two doubles, two triples) for the game.
The back half of the four-game set between the Storm and Vulcans is slated for Sunday in the form of an 11 a.m. doubleheader.
Notes: The site of this weekend's games – Consol Energy Park – is a 5,000-seat, all-turf facility opened in 2002. The park plays home to the Washington WildThings, an independent team in the Frontier League. … Junior Josh Porter's scoreless 2-2/3-inning stint in game one marked his first appearance of the season. The southpaw from Barberton, Ohio, appeared in two games last year. … Aaron Lindgren went 0-for-3 in Saturday's opener, snapping a nine-game hit streak. Lindgren bounced back with two hits in game two. He is batting .371/.439/.543 (batting/on-base/slugging) on the season. … California is 23-7 over its last 30 home games. … All but four of Lake Erie's Saturday at-bats were against lefty pitching. Through their first 11 games, Storm batters are now hitting just .218 (29-of-133) of port-siders; they are batting .276 (50-of-181) off right-handers.
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