LAKE ERIE (6-3) at CALIFORNIA (4-5)
Lake Erie heads to Washington, Pa., (20 miles south of Pittsburgh) for a four-game weekend set against California (Pa.). The Storm and Vulcans are slated to do battle in doubleheaders on Saturday and Sunday. LEC heads into the games on the heels of a 3-2 swing through Kentucky and Southern Illinois last week. Overall, the Green & White are off to a program-best 6-3 start over their first nine games. … California has yet to win back-to-back games this season, but the Vulcans have played a tough schedule. The team's 4-5 record includes a 2-3 mark against top-20 squads. CU's pitching has been stellar of late – the Vulcans own a 2.62 ERA over their last six games. California pitching posted a 3.07 ERA (19th in NCAA-II) a year ago when the Vulcans went 35-18 (.660).
ALL-TIME SERIES: 0-0 (first meeting)
SUNNY SIDE OF THE STREAK: Junior center fielder Aaron Lindgren has hit safely in each of his first nine games this season and in 11 straight contests, dating back to last season. The Willoughby, Ohio, native is batting .379/.457/.586 (batting/on-base/slugging) this season. He has a team-high five extra-base hits (four doubles, one triple).
COOL WHIP: LEC pitching owns a 2.82 ERA in the early going. The Storm have held foes to two runs or less four times in nine games. Starters have thus far posted an ERA of 3.14 and a lockdown Storm bullpen has registered a mark of 1.96. The team's key to success has been keeping the base paths free and clear. Lake Erie's WHIP (walks plus hits divided by innings pitched) is a cool 1.12, a figure that ranks 22nd in the nation. LEC hurlers have struck out 9.0 batters per nine innings (13th NCAA-II), and their 3.9 strikeouts-per-walk ratio ranks third in the country.
COMING THROUGH IN THE CLUTCH: Lake Erie is batting .263 (70-of-266) on the season, but the Storm are hitting a robust .305 (22-of-82) with runners in scoring position. LEC has also performed well in its key lead-off opportunities – the Green & White own a .406 on-base percentage when leading off an inning.
L.E.C. WITH A CAPITAL 'D': The Storm defense has been outstanding in the early going. Infielders and outfielders have shown the range to turn hits into outs, and arms around the diamond have produced frequent outs on the bases. Through nine games, Lake Erie ranks first in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference and ninth in the nation in fielding percentage with a mark of .982.
OFF AND RUNNING: Lake Erie has stolen 13 bases in 14 attempts. Lindgren leads the Storm in steals this season with five. On the other side of the ball, LEC has been solid in preventing the run. Storm catchers and pitchers have held foes to just six thefts in 10 attempts.
SCOUTING THE VULCANS: California is averaging 3.3 runs per game, while yielding 5.6 RPG. On offense, CU is batting .275/.359/.337. The Vulcans have not hit a home run this season; they have swiped 17 bags in 18 attempts, while holding opponents to a 12-of-21 mark. David Marcus (.945 on-base plus slugging) and Matt Peters (1.045) have been the Vulcans' top hitters. GJ Senchak (3.86 ERA, 15 strikeouts, three walks in 18-2/3 innings pitched) has been CU's top pitcher in the early going.
RAGING ON: Lake Erie is thus far 4-1 on the road this season; LEC went just 6-18 in 24 road tests a year ago. … LEC has committed just five errors on the season; three of those five have been charged to Storm pitchers. … Right fielder Garrett Emling needs three more walks to reach 50 for his career. Emling owns a .373 career OBP. … Aaron Lindgren needs two RBIs to reach 75 for his career. … Right-hander Brad Raley has struck out 19 batters in 14 innings this season. The junior fire-baller fanned 60 in 47 innings last season. … Right-hander Brandon Grunda has thus far anchored an effective Lake Erie bullpen. Grunda has appeared in four games; he has struck out nine while walking just one in eight innings.
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