LAKE ERIE (12-12, 6-5 GLIAC) at SAGINAW VALLEY (5-14, 2-7 GLIAC)
Lake Erie heads north, as the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference schedule has the Storm at Saginaw Valley State (Mich.) to close out a stretch of nine straight GLIAC road games. LEC heads to its weekend games on the heels of losing 2-of-3 at Ashland on Tuesday and Wednesday. In a more extended view, the Storm are 2-5 over their last seven games. But Lake Erie is 6-5 in GLIAC play, and that mark has the Green & White in fourth place in the league standings.
On the season, LEC is averaging 5.0 runs per game and yielding 4.4 RPG. The Storm rank in the GLIAC's top-six in most offensive categories. Lake Erie ranks fifth in ERA (3.64) and tops in the circuit in strikeouts (7.7 per nine) and strikeout-to-walk ratio (2.3-to-1). LEC's .960 fielding percentage ranks fourth in the conference. Pitching and defense have led the way in Lake Erie's best performances this season, and the lead edge of that group has been the Storm starting staff. LEC starters have an aggregate ERA of 3.32.
Lake Erie is thus far 8-9 on the road this season, which is a far sight better than the 6-18 mark the team had in the road last season.
Saturday's first game will mark Saginaw Valley's 2014 home opener. The Cardinals head into the weekend having lost 5-of-their-last-6 games. SVSU is averaging 4.1 RPG; defensively the Cardinals have allowed 6.6 RPG. That defensive average ranks 12th and last in the GLIAC.
SERIES: Lake Erie is 4-9 all-time against the Cardinals. Saginaw Valley took 3-of-4 from LEC last season, with the Storm's lone win coming in a GLIAC Tournament game (May 9). That tournament game was decided by one run (6-5 LEC victory), as have many Storm-Cardinal games over the years. LEC is 2-4 in a half-dozen one-run games against SVSU.
PITCHING IN: The GLIAC's top-10 in ERA is populated with two LEC hurlers. Heath Kelley owns an ERA of 1.32 in 27-1/3 innings pitched; that ERA ranks third in the league. Brad Raley's 2.17 mark in 29 innings ranks sixth. Kelley and Raley have combined to strike out 57 batters while walking just eight this season.
RAGING ON: LEC batters are just 10-for-their-last-47 (.213) against left-handed pitching. … The Storm managed just one stolen base in the Ashland series, and the Green & White have swiped just two bags over their last eight games. For the season, LEC is 18-of-26 (69 percent) in the stolen-base department. … In six games since returning from injury, shortstop Sean Mathews is batting .444 (8-of-18). Mathews has hit safely in five consecutive games.
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