LAKE ERIE (25-14, 19-7 GLIAC) vs. WAYNE STATE (29-11, 17-7 GLIAC)
After a 13-1 loss at Saginaw Valley (Mich.) on April 5, the Lake Erie Storm found themselves at 6-6 in Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference play. A 10-inning, 5-4 victory the next day pushed LEC over .500 in league play. And the Storm haven't looked back since. That one-run win would be emblematic of the way Lake Erie would start to play baseball: hang tough in a close game, and pull out a victory. Starting with that April 6 game, that has been the formula for the Green & White going 13-1 over 14 games. That stretch includes the Storm winning each of their last 10 games. It includes three straight wins over a seventh-ranked (National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association) Grand Valley State (Mich.) team (April 18-19) and it includes LEC leapfrogging the Wayne State Warriors (Mich.) and Grand Valley into first place in the 2014 GLIAC standings.
On Saturday and Sunday, Lake Erie will host the Warriors in yet another Braggs Field battle featuring contenders for the 2014 GLIAC pennant. Wayne State is on a roll of its own -- the Warriors are 13-2 over their last 15 games. They have a 17-7 mark in league games, and D2Baseball.com pegs the Warriors and Storm as their No. 4 and No. 5 teams in the Midwest Region, respectively.
When Lake Erie went 4-0 in its first four GLIAC contests this season, that was the "start" for a team whose slogan includes so much more. The "finish" is yet to come, but, like a game-tying seventh inning in a comeback win on April 6, its setting up as something special.
SERIES: Lake Erie and Wayne State have met a dozen times, and the Storm are 3-9 in those games. A year ago the two nines met three times in Detroit. All three games were blowouts decided by seven runs or more; the Warriors took two out of the three.
EARNED RUN ADVANCEMENT: Only once in program history have the Storm logged a team earned run average under 5.00. That was in the 2012 season, when Lake Erie registered a 4.78 mark. In 2014 LEC hurlers have thus far recorded a 3.40 ERA, a mark. That figure ranks third in the GLIAC and it marks a two-run improvement from last year's 5.59 ERA. Better control and limiting hard contact have been the primary reasons for Lake Erie finding better success in 2014. In the 2013 season, LEC pitchers walked 4.3 batters per nine innings and allowed a .392 slugging percentage (including 24 home runs). In 2014, Storm hurlers have allowed just 3.3 walks per nine and a slugging mark of .347 (12 home runs). SP Heath Kelley ranks second in the league and 25th in the nation with a 1.45 ERA.
VULTURE SWOOPING IN ON A RECORD: RP DJ Stastny is 6-0 this season, with a 2.81 ERA in 17 appearances. He needs one more victory to lay claim to the LEC single-season record for wins.
CAMP CLUTCH: 3B Zack DeCamp is batting .300 (12-of-40) with runners in scoring position, has a .462 OBP when leading off an inning and has knocked in 12 runs with two outs.
RAGING ON: SP Brad Raley has held foes to a .239 on-base percentage when leading off innings. ... In innings six, seven and eight, the Storm have outscored their opponents this season, 72-48. ... LEC is 13-4 this season when scoring first and 12-10 when their opponent scores first. ... Lake Erie's .964 fielding percentage would be a single-season best for the program and is among the top-60 marks in NCAA-II. ... RP Brandon Grunda has allowed just three hits over his last 7.1 IP. Since March 30, Grunda has an ERA of 1.37 in 19.2 IP. ... 1B Lucas Raley went 4-for-6 with two walks in Tuesday's doubleheader at Malone. Over his last 10 games, Raley is batting .500/.556/.750 (BA/OBP/SLG).
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