MASON, Ohio- The Lake Erie Storm baseball team opened up their first game of the 2019 Great Midwest Athletic Conference tournament with a matchup against Kentucky Wesleyan Collge Panthers. The result of the series in the regular season was an even split.
Senior ace of the Storm pitching staff, David Lemasters, started on the bump in a pitcher's duel against the Panther's staff ace and G-MAC pitcher of the year Devin Smith. Lemasters ended the 2019 season with an ERA of 2.80, recording 82 strikeouts with a strikeouts-per-nine-innings average of 12.10. Smith also had a dominant year for the Panthers, with a perfect 8-0 record, and recording an ERA of 1.74 and 86 strikeouts.
The game was scoreless through three innings until the Panthers struck first in the top of the fourth. In the bottom half of the inning, the Storm ended up batting around. Senior Rees Rua started it off, launching a ball over the right-field fence with two runners on base, putting the Storm up 3-1. They scored two more runs after a two-RBI double hit by Nathan Birtley, and the inning ended with a four-run lead in favor of Lake Erie.
With a four-run lead in the top of the fifth, Lemasters loaded the bases with no outs. The Panthers scored three, but the Storm still came out with a one-run lead. In the bottom half of the inning, the Panther's staff ace's day came to an end, his least successful outing of the season.
The Panthers weren't done, though. They tagged up on a sacrifice fly into scoring position and scored a run to cut the Storm lead to one in the top of the eighth. Dave Lemasters fanned a Panther hitter to end the top half of the inning.
He finished the day allowing the Panthers to five runs on eight hits, three walks and struck nine batters out in eight innings of work. The senior ace threw 130 pitches total, of which 88 were for strikes.
Christopher Mutter came in to close the game for the Storm in the top of the ninth inning. Mutter has successfully saved eight games in his junior season. With one out, the Panthers drew a pair of bases-loaded walks and a pair of singles, taking an 11-6 lead.
The Storm went 1-2-3 in the bottom of the ninth, and they fell to the Panthers with a final score of 11-6. With the loss, the Storm moves into the loser's bracket of the tournament and will play the loser of the Alderson Broaddus and Malone game.