COLUMBUS, Ohio – Lake Erie erased the disappointment of last week's 0-4 performance at California (Pa.) by going 2-0 on Thursday. And the Storm's timing couldn't be any better. After being outscored, 16-4, at California, the Green & White showed some resiliency in how they bounced back, and they did so against an Ohio Dominican team that went into Thursday's action with a record of 10-5. They did so in the front two games of a three-day stretch that has them playing five games. And they did so in the opening of Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference play.
Lake Erie swept ODU Thursday, winning by scores of 10-2 and 6-1. Right-handers Brad Raley and Brian Kilway tossed complete games, and LEC's slumping offense scored 16 runs on 19 hits. The Storm –held to four runs on 19 hits last week in Pennsylvania -- got RBI hits from seven different players on Thursday. The Green & White won the two games in the fashion their coaching staff preaches – by making plays from "start to finish." The "start-to-finish" mantra is a theme of this 2014 squad, one that now finds itself back up over .500 (8-7) despite last week's four-game misstep.
"I am so proud of the guys today," said Head Coach Brian McGee. "I couldn't be happier as a coach – from the pitching and defense, to getting clutch hits, to the little things like our assistants helping to prepare and coach. This was indeed a start-o-finish effort."
To that end, consider this: the Storm scored seven runs in the first half-inning on Thursday. They retired the Panthers in order in the day's final half-inning.
Brad Raley was given an ample lead early, and it would prove to be plenty in a game that saw the LEC bats come alive.
Lake Erie's big first inning was produced on four hits, three walks and a hit batsman. A Lou Peterlin two-run double was LEC's highlight hit in the inning, and that hit knocked out ODU starter Daniel Mooney, who was charged with seven runs (four earned) without registering an out in the first.
The two sides traded runs in the second, and then pitchers on both sides began to hold sway. For his part, Raley pitched hitless frames in the third and fourth. The Panthers then strung together three straight singles to score a run and make it an 8-2 game in the bottom of the fifth.
The Storm got two more in the seventh when Aaron Lindgren hit his 13th career home run. Raley cruised in the bottom of the seventh, closing out his third complete game with a ground out and two punch-outs.
Raley finished the game with five strikeouts. He scattered seven hits and didn't yield a walk in compiling his seven-inning, two-run gem. Lindgren went 3-for-5 with a stolen base. Lucas Raley (2-for-4) and Derrick Turocy (3-for-4) also collected multiple hits in a game that saw LEC garner 11 as a team.
The Storm's 10 runs tied a season high and marked their most in a single game since Feb. 23. The 10 runs – and Brad Raley's fine pitching – helped erase a four-game losing streak for Lake Erie and do so in a key game leading off a stretch of five games in three days.
LEC batters went 5-for-14 with runners in scoring position.
It was a clutch hit by Dylan Yankle – a two-out double plating Lucas Raley – that got Lake Erie on the board in the opening inning of the nightcap.
Senior right-hander Brian Kilway came up with some clutch performances of his own in protecting that one run on the Panther Valley scoreboard. Kilway wriggled out of jams in the second and fourth innings, and he was matched by ODU's Alberto Canales in a game that settled in as a pitcher's duel. Both hurlers traded zeroes in the scorebook until the bottom of the fifth when the home nine plated a run on a sacrifice fly.
A resilient LEC offense bounced right back in the top of the sixth when a Zack DeCamp single was followed by a passed ball and a Yankle RBI single. Garrett Emling then ripped an RBI double to left-center to put the Storm up, 3-1. After a walk to Rutger Luebke, Lou Peterlin traded places with Emling with a double of his own. And the rally wasn't over yet. Lake Erie plated two more runs on a two-out error by the ODU left fielder. The outburst would eventually end, but not before LEC sent nine men to the plate, with five of them scoring. That five-spot sent Kilway into the bottom of the sixth with a hefty 6-1 lead.
Kilway would retire the next six batters he faced to close out the victory and the sweep for LEC. For the game, he yielded just three hits (all singles) in allowing the one run. He walked four and struck out six. Kilway has now allowed just one run over his last 11 innings pitched.
Zack DeCamp, Garrett Emling, Aaron Lindgren, Lou Peterlin and Lucas Raley each registered hits in both games. Peterlin logged two doubles and three runs batted in.
Lake Erie is now scheduled to travel to Chillicothe, Ohio, where they will face the Northwood (Mich.) Timberwolves in a three-game series that gets underway Friday at 5 p.m.
Notes: Brad Raley didn't issue a walk in his seven innings on Thursday and through 23 frames this season has issued just two free passes. Going into Thursday's second game, the Lake Erie pitching staff owned a walks-per-nine rate of 2.3. … The Storm-Panthers meeting figured as one to be heavily influenced by the men on the mound. Both Lake Erie (38th, 3.04 ERA) and Ohio Dominican (10th, 2.29) were in the nation's top-40 in earned run average heading into this week's action. … LEC went 3-of-8 with runners in scoring position in game two. The Storm is now batting .289 (35-of-121) in such situations. Garrett Emling (6-of-19) and Lou Peterlin (6-of-21) are among LEC's leaders in that clutch-hitting category. … The Storm's 11 hits in Thursday's opener tied a 2014 single-game best. … Lake Erie is 6-1 this season when scoring first.