PAINESVILLE, Ohio – Lake Erie won its third consecutive game, downing a red-hot Walsh Cavalier squad, 6-1, on Wednesday.
Junior left-hander Heath Kelley gave the Storm six strong innings on the front end, and relievers Brandon Grunda and D.J. Stastny closed out the contest by giving the Storm two-plus scoreless frames. The Green & White have allowed just five runs over their three-game win streak.
Second baseman Josh Hudeck went 3-for-4 with a double and shortstop Sean Mathews registered three RBIs in a game that saw the LEC offense score solo runs in six straight innings (the third through the eighth).
The Wednesday meeting of Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference foes marked LEC's 2014 home opener. Walsh (16-16, 8-8 GLIAC) went into the contest having won seven games in a row.
"I thought we had a good approach in all facets of the game today," said Head Coach Brian McGee. "We had some timely hits and put pressure on their defense. We made some nice defensive plays, and I thought all three of our pitchers made key pitches in the clutch. Those kind of things keep a ballclub humming along."
The clutch pitches McGee spoke of can be backed up by the box score – LEC hurlers held Walsh batters to an 0-for-7 mark with runners in scoring position.
On offense, Lake Erie's clutch hits were perhaps those leading off innings. The Storm had their leadoff man reach in 5-of-8 innings. Those base runners pressured a Walsh defense that would commit three errors in the game. And they allowed for a varied attack that included sacrifice bunts, sacrifice flies and extra-base hits.
Lake Erie (15-13, 9-6) played little ball in plating the first run of the game in the bottom of the third. A leadoff single by Garrett Emling, a sacrifice bunt by Alex Lind and a Josh Hudeck single Josh Hudeck set up an RBI opportunity for Sean Mathews and Mathews came through with a sacrifice bunt. His bat-work plated Emling and lifted Kelley and the Storm to a 1-0 lead.
Walsh got that run back in the top of the fifth, and the Cavaliers then made a change on the mound, lifting Ian Dropcho for Joe Tann. Lake Erie got to Tann for one in the bottom of the fifth, extending its lead back to two (3-1).
Kelley protected that two-run cushion in the top of the sixth, retiring WU's No. 3 and No. 4 batters with a runner at second base. He was rewarded with yet another solo run in the bottom of the sixth when Lou Peterlin hit LEC's first Braggs Field home run of the season, a blast over the fence in center.
Kelley went 6-and-2/3 innings before being replaced by right-hander Brandon Grunda. In his six frames-plus, Kelley allowed one run on five hits.
Grunda went an inning-and-a-third of scoreless baseball. D.J. Stastny came on to pitch a two-strikeout, scoreless ninth.
The LEC offense closed out its day with solo markers in the seventh and eighth innings. That offense saw production up and down the lineup for the game. Batting one-two, Hudeck and Mathews combined for four hits, two runs scored and three RBIs. The four- and five-batters – Zack DeCamp and Dylan Yankle – added two runs and three hits. And the seven- and eight-hitters – Lou Peterlin and Garrett Emling – each went 1-for-3 with a run and an RBI.
Lake Erie finished with nine hits in the game, two more than the Cavaliers.
Wednesday's tilt marked the beginning of a busy week at home for the Storm. Lake Erie is scheduled to host Ohio Dominican on Thursday and Tiffin on Saturday and Sunday.
Notes: The Storm played errorless baseball for a ninth time this season and for the first time since March 30. … Zack DeCamp reached base leading off an inning three times. On the season, DeCamp owns a .474 on-base percentage when leading off an inning. As a team, Lake Erie owns a .382 mark in such situations. … LEC is 8-3 this season in games decided by five runs or more. … The Storm is now 6-5 in 11 all-time home openers. … Garrett Emling has hit safely in four straight games. … With a 2-for-4 game on Wednesday, Zack DeCamp has now recorded 10 multi-hit games this season. … Lou Peterlin's sixth-inning home run marked the first of his 50-game career. LEC has hit nine home runs this season while yielding eight.
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