FRANKFORT, Ky. – Starting pitchers Brad Raley and Brian Kilway combined to allow just two runs over 11-1/3 innings, and the Storm got valuable and versatile contributions up and down the lineup and around the horn as Lake Erie opened its season by sweeping a pair of games from Kentucky State on Saturday.
Raley tossed a complete-game, 10-0 shutout in the opener, a game that saw his brother – freshman left fielder Lucas Raley – smack a home run to right-center for his first collegiate hit. Kilway and two relievers combined to close out the sweep in a 7-2 victory in the nightcap.
"This was a great performance, from start to finish," said Storm Head Coach Brian McGee. "With this being our first time outside this year, we put it all together – on the mound, on defense and with timely hitting. We showed that we were ready to go."
Lake Erie (2-0) outhit the Thorobreds, 19-10, over the two games. LEC pitchers walked five against 16 strikeouts, and the team committed just one error while making several standout plays in the field. Raley, Kilway and company held Kentucky State (0-10) to a 4-for-19 mark with runners in scoring position.
Game One Brad Raley was staked to a 1-0 lead when the Storm pushed across a solo run in the top of the second inning. The 6-foot-4 senior right-hander set the home nine down in order in each of the first two frames.
Lake Erie upped its lead to 4-0 when each of the first three batters reached base and came around to score off KSU starter Josh Dunn.
Brother Lucas got in on the act in the fifth when he led off the inning with a solo home run. For the afternoon, Lucas Raley would go 1-for-5 with a pair of sacrifice flies and three runs batted in. Senior right fielder garrett Emling followed up Raley home run with one of his own two batters later in a fifth inning that saw the Storm belt their way to three runs.
Brad Raley would protect the lead by breezing through the fifth and seventh innings. In between he pitched in and out of trouble in the sixth, leaving the bases full. For the game he went the route, fanning seven while walking one. He was supported by a stellar defensive play by Aaron Lindgren – a diving catch of a liner to right-center in the second – and by a Rutger Luebke throw out of a would-be base stealer in the fourth.
Game Two Kilway took the ball in game two, and he worked with an early-but slim lead when Lake Erie plated solo runs in the first and second innings. Kilway and the Storm defense protected that lead but not without peril. The senior right-hander wriggled in and out of jams in each inning until the fifth when he was lifted after allowing two runs.
By that point Kilway had a 6-0 lead: the Storm scored three runs in the fourth -- a frame highlighted by a two-run double off the bat of first baseman Lou Peterlin -- and then one in the top of the fifth.
Left reliever D.J. Stastny came on to get the final out of the KSU fifth, and then Brandon Grunda pitched a pair of hitless innings in the sixth and seventh. Grunda was dominant, striking out four batters.
"I was impressed by the Kilway got the job done today," said McGee, whose Storm are off to a 2-0 start to a season for the first time in the 13-year history of the program. "And our bullpen threw a lot of strikes and shut the door."
Impressive also was LEC's defense in the second game. Catcher Dylan Yankle threw out two base stealers and picked off a runner at first base. All three of those throws proved to be key, amid Thorobred rallies.
Over the two games, Kentucky State was 0-for-3 in the stolen base department.
Lake Erie got leadoff batters aboard in 12-of-14 innings; eight of those runners came around to dent the plate.
Emling had three hits and five RBIs on the day. He was one of four Storm batters to collect at least three hits on the windswept, 50-something afternoon in Central Kentucky. Sophomore third baseman Zack DeCamp went 4-for-5 with a double and three runs scored.
The Lake Erie-Kentucky State series is scheduled to wrap up with a doubleheader on Sunday.
Notes: The game-one victory marked Lake Erie's first win in an opener since 2010. LEC is now 3-10 in season openers. … Prior to Saturday's sweep, the Storm had been 1-15 all-time against Kentucky programs. … Dating back to last season, Brad Raley has piled up 22 strikeouts over his last 15 innings pitched. … Dating back to 2013, Brian Kilway has allowed three earned runs or less in five consecutive starts. His ERA over that stretch is 2.36. … Seven different LEC players collected RBIs and nine scored runs on Saturday. … Lake Erie registered six sacrifice flies. ... Aaron Lindgren became the Storm's all-time triples leader with a three-bagger in game two. Lindgren now has eight career triples.