DETROIT, MICH. – If the final two games of the regular season Sunday (May 6) are any indication, next week's Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) Tournament won't be boring. The Lake Erie College baseball team played two wild games at Wayne State to close out the schedule but ultimately came up on the short end in a pair of one-run games.
The Storm (26-24, 22-14 GLIAC) rallied from a 4-1 deficit in game one, only to see the Warriors (30-17, 21-13 GLIAC) score a run in the bottom of the eighth for a 5-4 extra inning victory. In the nightcap, the two teams combined for 19 runs in the fifth inning alone and the game ended on a play at the plate with Wayne State holding on for a 12-11 win.
The series win by the Warriors gives them the second seed in next week's tournament. Lake Erie earned the third seed for its GLIAC Tournament debut and will face fourth-seeded Tiffin University at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, May 9, in Chillicothe, Ohio.
A four-run second inning gave the Warriors a 4-1 lead in game one before the Storm chipped away with a run in the third and then tied it with two in the fourth. The teams would play shutout baseball for the next four innings before Wayne State's Kyle Vesey led off the eighth with a triple and then scored the winning run on a wild pitch.
Junior Tyler Minnich (LaGrange, Ohio/Keystone) took the loss, despite throwing 6 2/3 innings of relief. Minnich (0-1) allowed just two runs (one earned) on four hits in his outing and struck out three. He came on in bases-loaded jam in the second and did not run into trouble again until Vesey's hit in the eighth.
The Storm offense was paced by seniors Matt Toth (Lorain, Ohio/Admiral King) and Kyle Kemp (Fredericksburg, Va./James Monroe) along with freshman Sean Mathews (Washington, Mich./Warren De LaSalle) who had three hits each. Senior Brayan Cacique (Caracas, Venezuela/John I. Leonard/Lakeland) had an RBI double and a sacrifice fly, but the Storm had just one hit after the fourth inning.
Vesey had two of the Warriors' five hits. Justin Sylvester (1-0) held Lake Erie to just one hit in 4 1/3 innings of relief.
Wayne State led game two 2-1after four innings before the Storm exploded for nine runs in the top of the fifth – all with two outs. Lake Erie took advantage of a pair of Warrior errors to extend the rally. Five different players drove in runs in the inning, including two-RBI hits from junior Pat Kilway (Tallmadge, Ohio/Tallmadge) and sophomore Reid Rizzo (Cincinnati, Ohio/LaSalle).
But just as quickly as the Storm struck in the top of the frame, the Warriors came right back in the bottom half and put up a 10-spot. Kasey Koster singled to right with the bases loaded, but the ball got by Toth allowing all three runners to score and seemingly open the floodgates. When it was all said and done, 14 Warriors had batted against three Storm pitchers and the home team had a 12-10 lead.
But the Storm had one more chance in the seventh. Rizzo singled through the left side with two on and two out, scoring Lindgren to cut the deficit to one, but Koster's throw home gunned down Mathews and erased the potential tying run to end the game.
Rizzo had three hits and drove in three runs to lead LEC. Kilway had two hits, scored twice and drove in two runs and sophomore Garrett Emling (Tallmadge, Ohio/Tallmadge) also had two RBI.
Senior Mike Morgan (Russells Point, Ohio/Indian Lake), the third of four Lake Erie hurlers, suffered the loss. He allowed two runs on three hits in 2/3 of an inning to fall to 1-3.
Koster went 3-for-4 and was one of five Warriors with two or more hits. Brock Bates (1-0) earned the win in relief.
All 11 of Lake Erie's runs scored were unearned.
Despite having more wins in league play, Lake Erie settled for third place in the conference standings by .007 of a percentage point. Wayne State played two fewer games due to a rain out at Ohio Dominican University on April 14 that was not made up. The Warriors will play fifth-seeded Saginaw Valley State University on Wednesday at 2 p.m.
For complete GLIAC Tournament brackets and schedules, log on to www.GLIAC.org.