PAINESVILLE, Ohio – Lake Erie's first foray into NCAA-II Championship baseball will include an opening game against the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference champion Grand Valley State (Mich.), and the Storm are slated to get underway on Thursday at 12 p.m. EDT.
Six teams are bound for USI Baseball Field in Evansville, Ind., where they will battle in double-elimination brackets. Lake Erie heads to the Midwest regional hosted by the University of Southern Indiana as the No. 5 seed. The Green & White will battle No. 2 seed Grand Valley – a team they played twice last week at the GLIAC Tournament – on Thursday at noon. The winner of that contest will play Friday at 8 p.m. EDT; the loser will play Friday at 12 p.m. EDT.
The tournament's No. 1 seed is Southern Indiana, a team that is 41-11 on the season and ranked No. 8 nationally by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association. USI is the 2014 regular season champion of the Great Lakes Valley Conference. The Midwest Region Tournament is comprised of the top teams from the GLIAC and GLVC.
The 31-20 Storm are making what is the program's first appearance at an NCAA national tournament. Lake Erie Baseball was instituted in 2002, and the Storm were a Division III program until 2009.
LEC's 2014 season has been a flip of the script. A year ago, the Storm went 18-30, averaging 4.5 runs per game and posting a team earned-run average of 5.59. The 2014 squad has averaged 5.1 runs per game (7.0 RPG in last 10) with a program-record ERA of 3.94 and a program-record fielding percentage of .963.
The Storm lost 2-of-3 to the Grand Valley Lakers last week, but they swept GVSU, three games to none, in a home series on April 18-19. Over the last three seasons, LEC is 6-7 against the now-17-time GLIAC champions.
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