First Pitch: Storm Opens GLIAC Tournament Wednesday Against Tiffin

Matt Toth
Matt Toth

Tournament Homepage (Brackets, Results, Directions, Scores, Links)

#4 Tiffin University (25-24, 20-16 GLIAC)
vs. #3 Lake Erie College (26-24, 22-14 GLIAC)

Game 3 – 2012 GLIAC Baseball Tournament | V.A. Memorial Stadium (Chillicothe, Ohio)
Wednesday, May 9, 2012 | 5:30 p.m.

PAINESVILLE, OHIO – Coming off its most successful regular season in school history, the Lake Erie College baseball team makes its debut in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) Tournament this week in Chillicothe, Ohio.  The third-seeded Storm (26-24, 22-14 GLIAC) will play the number four seed Tiffin University (25-24, 20-16 GLIAC) at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, May 9, 2012 at V.A. Memorial Stadium.

The top six teams in the regular season standings qualify for the GLIAC Tournament.  The winner of the playoff will receive an automatic bid to the NCAA Midwest Regional which begin on May 17.

A LOOK BACK: The Storm went just 1-3 last weekend at Wayne State University to wrap up the regular season, however three of the four games were decided by just one run including a pair of extra inning contests.  Lake Erie won the opener, 5-4, in eight innings on Saturday before the host Warriors came back in game two for a 5-1 win.  In the first game Sunday, it was the home team's turn for a 5-4 8-inning victory and then the wild finale featured 19 combined runs scored in the fifth inning and the game's final play decided at the plate as Wayne State held on for a 12-11 win to take the series and earn the second seed in the GLIAC Tournament.

RANK AND FILE: For the first time, Lake Erie received votes in the Division II National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) Midwest Region Poll last week (May 1), tying for 10th place.

ALL-CONFERENCE: The GLIAC will announce its all-conference teams and special award winners on Tuesday night (May 8) during the pre-tournament banquet.

"NO"-STRADAMUS: Prior to the start of the season, the Storm was picked to finish eighth in the 10-team GLIAC by a vote of the league's coaches.  The Storm exceeded those expectations and proved the prognosticators wrong with a third place finish and were in second place in the league until the final game of the regular season, slipping to third despite more conference victories than Wayne State.  Tiffin, the Storm's first round opponent in the GLIAC Tournament, was picked seventh in the preseason poll.

AND THE SKIPPER, TOO: Head Coach Brian McGee is in his fifth season at the helm of the Lake Erie baseball program.  Since coming to Painesville McGee has guided the Storm to a 98-141 (.410) mark, winning 20 or more games in each of the last two seasons.  Prior to his arrival, Lake Erie had won just 25% of its games.  Four times in his five years the Storm has set a single season school record for victories, including 26 this season.  The Storm has also made its only two postseason appearances under McGee, a 2000 graduate of Tiffin University and former all-conference player for the Dragons.

POSTSEASON PLAY: This will mark Lake Erie's second appearance in postseason baseball and first at the NCAA Division II level.  The Storm qualified for the 2008 Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference (AMCC) Playoffs as a DIII team in 2008, Brian McGee's first season, after finishing third in the league during the regular season with a 10-8 conference mark.  The Storm defeated Penn State University-Altoona, 2-0 and 6-4 in the first round, before falling to second-seeded Frostburg State Univeristy, 17-6, and fourth-seeded University of Pittsburgh at Bradford, 8-4, in the double elimination portion of the bracket.  Lake Erie is 2-2 all-time in the postseason.

THE OPPOSITION POSITION: Tiffin has caught fire at the right time, winning 14 of its last 16 games and surging up the GLIAC standings to a fourth-place finish.  The Dragons also finished with a winning regular season for the first time since 2006. After dropping their series opener to Saginaw Valley State University on Saturday, the Dragons won three straight to close the schedule.  Senior 1B/P Pat Curtin ranked second in the GLIAC with a .404 average , led the team in hits and runs, and went 5-1 with a 3.49 ERA and two saves on the mound.  The Dragons have seven regulars hitting over .300 and were in the middle of the pack in runs scored during the season, but hit the fewest home runs in the league (3).  Lonny Allen is in his 21st season as head coach at Tiffin, compiling a career record of 443-516-2. 

SEASON SERIES RECAP: The Storm and Dragons played as close a series as you can play when they split a pair of doubleheaders in Tiffin April 6-7. All four games were decided by one run and the first three all went into extra innings.   

STORM SCRIBBLES: Lake Erie is guaranteed of finishing no worse than .500 for the season by finishing the regular schedule two games over that mark with its 26-24 record.  It is the first .500 or better season in school history… Against the five other teams making up the GLIAC Tournament field, Lake Erie posted a 9-12 record during the season.  The Storm was 3-1 against top-seeded Grand Valley State University, 2-2 against both Tiffin and Saginaw Valley State, and 1-3 against Wayne State and Ashland University... Matt Toth finished the regular season on a high note, batting .459 with 14 steals over the final 25 games.  Overall he led the team in batting, and finished third in the GLIAC, with a .385 average and his team-leading 60 base hits are tied for the fourth most in a single season in school history.  Toth had 16 multiple-hit games on the season, best on the team. His 19 stolen bases also tied the school mark… Brayan Cacique has started 49 games this season and is just one away from tying Ben Reed's school record for both games started and games played.  Cacique led the squad during the year with 13 multiple RBI games, and topped the team with five home runs and 38 RBI to go along with his .364 average. He also has drawn 31 walks, a school record… Reid Rizzo has been hit by a pitch 10 times so far this season, the most in school history.  Tied for second is Nick Lovick, who has been hit eight times this year…  the Storm pitching staff has posted its lowest team ERA ever and has the three lowest individual ERA's (min. 35 IP)… Adam Beach (6-2, 2.85 ERA)  tied a school record with his six wins on the mound during the regular season and his 11 starts and 66 1/3 innings pitched are both the most in school history. Beach has struck out 60 batters to date, tying his own school record set in 2010. His 14 career wins are one shy of the school record… Brian Kilway (5-1, 1.51)  has posted the lowest ERA to date in school history and also has held opponents to just a .211 batting average, which is also the lowest in school history… closer Doug Fox has set school single season records for appearances (23) and saves (6) this season and has a 3-1 record and 2.80 ERA in 35 1/3 innings out of the bullpen.  His six saves this season are also most in school history for a career.

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-LEC-