LAKE ERIE (18-14, 12-7 GLIAC) at WALSH (17-18, 9-8 GLIAC)
Lake Erie heads to North Canton, Ohio, for a key Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference doubleheader against Walsh on Wednesday. The Storm and Cavaliers head into the twin bill as the third- and fourth-place teams, respectively, in the 2014 GLIAC standings. And for Lake Erie, the two games at Walsh kick off a stretch that has the Green & White playing 11 straight games against foes that are .500 or better in league play.
For a team playing good baseball, that 11-game stretch will surely be played one at a time, with no looking forward a week, a series, a game or an inning. That seems to be the focus LEC has had since the calendar flipped over to April. Since April 6, Lake Erie is 6-1 with a .382 on-base percentage, a .969 fielding mark and a 2.02 ERA.
LEC and WU met last week in a game the Storm won by a final score of 6-1. Dating back to last season, the win marked Lake Erie's third in a row against Walsh. And the Cavaliers were on a roll heading into last week's game – they had won seven straight prior to the 6-1 defeat at Braggs Field. Following their trip to Painesville, WU closed out its week by going 1-2 at home against nationally-ranked (current No. 7, National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association) Grand Valley State-Mich. (April 12-13). But even with three losses last week, the Cavaliers are still one of only four GLIAC clubs to be over .500 in league play heading into Wednesday's action. Walsh ranks as a middle-of-the-GLIAC-pack squad in scoring (4.9 runs per game) and in pitching (4.53 ERA).
SERIES: Lake Erie 3-0 all-time against Walsh. In LEC's April 9 win over WU, the Storm scored solo runs in six straight innings, from the third through the eighth. Starter Heath Kelley went 6-2/3 innings, allowing just one run, and Josh Hudeck went 3-for-4 with a double.
STAFF MEETING: Among GLIAC pitchers who have tossed 30-plus innings thus far in 2014, Lake Erie has four of the league's top-22 in ERA. Heath Kelley ranks second in the circuit with a 1.25 ERA; Russ Hogue (2.29) ranks seventh; Brian Kilway (3.48) ranks 18th; Brad Raley (3.99) ranks 22nd. … LEC's team ERA sits at 3.58 which ranks third in the GLIAC.
SPLITS-VILLE: Through April 13, Lake Erie is … 4-1 at home, 10-10 on the road, 4-3 at neutral sites … 6-7 vs. left-handed starters, 12-7 vs. right-handed starters … 6-5 in one-run games, 8-3 in games decided by five runs or more … 2-1 in extra innings … 0-9 when scoring two runs or less, 18-5 when scoring three runs or more … 6-1 when scoring a run in the first inning, 11-4 when scoring first … 13-1 when outhitting an opponent.
ROAD IMPROVEMENTS: A year ago, Lake Erie scuffled in away games, going just 6-18. This year, the Storm are 10-10 on the road. LEC pitchers own an aggregate 3.09 ERA in road tilts. The Storm's top road bats have been Aaron Lindgren (.881 OPS) and Garrett Emling (.840).
HIGH FIVE: Freshman Lucas Raley batted .438/.550/1.063 (BA/OBP/SLG) in five games last week, four of which were relatively low-scoring games in which his offensive contributions stood out even more. On the week Raley walked twice, was twice hit by a pitch and homered three times en route to posting a 1.613 OPS. He made a key defensive play at first base in game one of a sweep of Tiffin, a team that had been over .500 in GLIAC play. He also stole two bases in as many attempts on the week. Since March 16, the freshman slugger is batting .417/.476/.708; he now owns a .991 OPS on the season.
RAGING ON: LEC batters have notched a red-hot .500 OBP when leading off an inning over the team's last five games. For the season, the Storm own a .393 OBP in such situations. … Zack DeCamp has hit safely in each of LEC's last six games. DeCamp had three hits in Sunday's win over Tiffin. … Lake Erie's top single-season fielding percentage is .953, a mark the Storm posted a year ago. LEC's fielding mark thus far in 2014 is 10 points higher, .963.
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