TOLEDO, OHIO – For the third time in the last two years, the Lake Erie College baseball team held its own against the Division I squad, but despite outhitting the University of Toledo, the Storm came up just short on Tuesday (April 12) falling to the Rockets 7-6 at Scott Park in Toledo.
Senior Brandon James (Mentor, Ohio/Mentor) , junior Matt Toth (Lorain, Ohio/Admiral King) and sophomore Pat Killway (Tallmadge, Ohio/Tallmadge) each had two hits for the Storm (14-13), which had its four-game winning streak snapped.
Toth led off the game with a walk, advanced to third following a botched pick-off attempt and a wild pitch and scored on a ground-out by junior Ryan Rua (Amherst, Ohio/Amherst) to give the Storm a 1-0 lead.
Toledo (17-15) took the lead with a pair of runs in the second. Sophomore Cody Blood (Conneaut, Ohio/Conneaut) hit a sacrifice fly to score junior Kyle Kemp (Fredericksburg, Va./James Monroe) to tie the game in the fourth, but the Rockets responded with a Chris Dudics single to retake the lead.
James and Jae Leeworthy (Newton Falls, Ohio/Newton Falls) each scored on a wild pitch in the sixth to make it a 4-3 lead for the Storm. But the home team scored four times in the bottom of the frame – on just one hit- to move back on top.
Two runs in the inning scored on wild pitches and Jeff Cola plated the other two with a double.
Lake Erie cut into the lead to one in the seventh after Rua drove in a run with a fielder's choice and James hit a sacrifice fly to make it 7-6. The Storm had two one with only one out, but reliever Alex Radon came on and struck out the next two hitters to end the threat.
The Storm had a chance to tie it in the eighth, but freshman Reid Rizzo (Cincinnati, Ohio/LaSalle) was thrown out at the plate trying to score from second. James singled with one out in the ninth, but Matt Zahel came on to close the door and pick up his ninth save.
Sophomore Jimmie Shaw (Holland, Ohio/Toledo St. John) suffered the loss, allowing four runs in one inning of work. Starter Michael Backes (Hubbard, Ohio/Hubbard) went the first four innings, allowing three runs on seven hits.
Although he drove in two runs, Rua did not have a hit in the game, ending his 10-game hitting streak.
Despite giving up four runs in 2 2/3 innings of relief, Ryan Wilkinson earned the win for Toledo. Ben Hammer had a pair of hits and Dan Sherwood scored two runs for the Rockets, who won their 10th straight game.
Lake Erie falls to 1-2 all-time against Division I opponents with the loss.
The Storm returns to conference play on Wednesday, April 13, with a doubleheader against fellow Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference newcomer Ohio Dominican University at Braggs Field beginning at 2 p.m. Both teams are part of a four-way tie for third place in the GLIAC standings with 7-7 records.