PAINESVILLE, OHIO – The Lake Erie College baseball team entered the sixth inning of its series opener with Northwood University with a 2-1 lead, but a pair of costly fielding errors led to a five-run inning for the visitors en route to a 6-3 final at a soggy Braggs Field at Kiwanis Recreation Park on Friday (April 22).
Before that frame, the only runs of the game had been scored on home runs. Ryan Palmer hit a solo shot for Northwood (13-16, 8-11 GLIAC) in the second and junior Ryan Rua (Amherst, Ohio/Amherst Steele) connected for a two-run blast to put Lake Erie ahead in the third.
But things unraveled for the Storm (15-18, 8-12 GLIAC) in the sixth. Michael Goodwin led off the inning with a single, advanced to third on a sacrifice and stolen base, then scored the tying run on a misplayed grounder by Rua at short. After an infield single and a walk loaded the bases to case Storm starter Michael Backes (Hubbard, Ohio/Hubbard), D.J. Hicks singled to left field to drive in the go-ahead run.
After sophomore reliever Doug Fox (Parma, Ohio/Valley Forge) struck out Andy Bouchard for the second out, third baseman Cody Blood (Conneaut, Ohio/Conneaut) couldn't come up with Jason Fracassa's grounder, allowing two more runs to score. Jake Oard was then hit by a pitch with the bases loaded before Fox retired Brett Lechner on a ground ball to second to end the inning.
The Storm committed four errors in the game.
Lake Erie loaded the bases with one out in the sixth against Jordan Schwellenback and got a run back on a sacrifice fly by Rua and then had two on with one out in the seventh before Kyle McIntyre retired the final two hitters for the save.
Backes (2-1) suffered the loss despite the strong outing. The junior righthander scattered five hits in 5 1/3 innings. He allowed just two runs (five total), walked three and struck out two. Northwood's ace Mark Heard (5-2) allowed eight hits in five innings, but kept the damage to minimum with six strikeouts and only one walk. He allowed only two runs.
Three Storm batters had two hits, including junior Matt Toth (Lorain, Ohio/Admiral King) to extend his hitting streak to a career-high 12 games. It is the second longest such streak in school history. Five players share the record at 13 games.
Junior Jae Leeworthy (Newton Falls, Ohio/Newton Falls) and sophomore Pat Kilway (Tallmadge, Ohio/Tallmadge) also had two hits each. Lake Erie outhit Northwood 12-6 in the contest.
Friday's second game was rained out.
The teams will wrap up their series on Saturday, April 23, with a doubleheader at Braggs Field starting at noon.