ALLENDALE, MICH. – After a couple of last at-bat wins earlier in the week, the Lake Erie College baseball team got an unfortunate taste of its own medicine Saturday (April 20) as host Grand Valley State University took both games of a Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference doubleheader. The Lakers scored five times in the bottom of the seventh in game one for a 6-5 victory and then plated a run in the bottom of the 11th inning to break a scoreless tie in a 1-0 victory in the nightcap to complete the sweep.
A three-run second, highlighted by a two-run single from sophomore Sean Mathews (Washington, Mich./Warren De La Salle), gave the Storm (11-24, 8-14 GLIAC) an early lead in game one. Senior Cody Blood (Conneaut, Ohio/Conneaut) and junior Garrett Emling (Tallmadge, Ohio/Tallmadge) singled in runs in the sixth and seventh innings, respectively, to put LEC up 5-1.
Meanwhile, sophomore Russ Hogue (Belle Center, Ohio/Indian Lake) was shutting down the Lakers (21-12, 15-5 GLIAC). Hogue went the first five innings, allowing just one run on four hits. He struck out three and worked around four walks to put himself in line for the win before handing the ball off to the Storm bullpen.
On Wednesday senior Doug Fox (Parma, Ohio/Valley Forge) earned a win and a save with three-plus perfect innings of relief in a doubleheader sweep of Walsh University, but after a perfect sixth, the Lakers got to him in the seventh.
Four of the first five hitters reached and after RBI singles from Kevin Zak and Chris Rudenga, sophomore Heath Kelley (Mentor, Ohio/Mentor) came on. But he was greeted by three straight hits, including a two-run single by Jesse Abel and the game-winner by pinch hitter Matthew Schuch, to end the game.
Blood and sophomore Dylan Yankle (Dublin, Ohio/Olentangy Liberty) each had two hits for the Storm in the opener. Rudenga and Jamie Potts had two hits apiece for the Lakers. Kyle Zegarac (1-0) was the winning pitcher in relief, despite throwing just one pitch. Starter Kyle Teague, who came into the game with a 5-0 record, allowed five runs on eight hits in 6 2/3 innings. He walked four and struck out eight. Kelley (0-2) took the loss.
In game two, junior Brad Raley (Hinkley, Ohio/Highland) was simply fantastic on the mound for the Storm, throwing nine innings of shutout baseball. He allowed just a pair of singles and a walk while striking out nine. More impressively, Raley allowed just one baserunner after the third inning, retiring the last 15 batters he faced.
On arguably any other day, Raley would have cruised to the win. However, Grand Valley's Patrick Kelly was equally as good. Kelly kept the Storm off the board through eight innings, allowing just four hits and a walk while striking out four.
Twice the Storm got a runner to third base, but each time with two outs, and Kelly was able to escape without any runs coming across.
Stuart Eisler led off the Grand Valley 11th with a walk off of redshirt sophomore Brandon Grunda (Elyria, Ohio/Elyria) and reached third on a sacrifice bunt and tagging up on a fly ball to centerfield around a pair of intentional walks.
Rudenga then delivered a two-out single up the middle off junior D.J. Stasny (Macedonia, Ohio/Trinity) to score Eisler and end the longest game of the year for either team.
Brad Zambron (1-2) pitched three perfect innings of relief to earn the win for the Lakers in game two. Grunda (1-1) took the loss, allowing one run on three walks in 1 1/3 innings of relief.
The two teams wrap up their three-game series with a single nine-inning game Sunday, April 21, at noon.