Storm Heads Into 2010 Campaign with High Expectations
Feb 17, 2010
PAINESVILLE, Ohio - With the late winter snow still falling on
the Lake Erie College campus, the Storm baseball team has been
working drills in the Jerome T. Osborne Family Athletic &
Wellness Center's gym to prepare for its Feb. 20 season-opener at
With a full stable of young returning players, Lake Erie head
coach Brian McGee looks forward to a strong season in his third
year at the helm of the Storm baseball program.
"They're anxious to get going and get out of the gym," McGee said.
"Last year, a lot of them were playing college baseball for the
first time and they were a little shell-shocked. Now they have
expectations and they know what they can do on the field. They have
an understanding of how good the competition is and how good they
have to be."
The 37-man roster is comprised of 33 freshmen and sophomores with
four juniors and no seniors. The Storm, which won 16 games last
year in its first Division II season, returns eight starters and
has had an influx of freshman talent come into the program.
The list of starters includes four guys from the top of the batting
order. Outfielders Brandon James (Mentor, Ohio/Mentor) and Matt
Toth (Lorain, Ohio/Admiral King) return to the squad with shortstop
Ryan Rua (Amherst, Ohio/Amherst) and catcher Nick Lovick (Mentor,
James started 48 games for Lake Erie in 2009, hitting .345 with two
home runs, 13 doubles, 32 RBI and a team-high 13 stolen bases. Rua,
who led last year's team in home runs (11) and RBI (47), also hit
.320 and was selected as an All-Star in the Southern Collegiate
Baseball League last summer, when he played for the Carolina
Stingers. Both were named to the All-Independent Collegiate
Athletic Association (ICAA) team. Rua was named to the first team
while James was a second-team pick.
Lovick, the team captain and one of the top defensive catchers in
Division II, will return behind the plate after hitting .277 with a
home run and 11 RBI in 32 starts for the Storm. Toth hit .321 in 31
games with nine stolen bases.
James and Lovick are juniors, while Rua and Toth are coming off
fantastic freshman seasons.
McGee will try and keep that veteran group in the lineup while
working in the younger players around them. He has brought in other
players that will speed up the offense and allow him to be more
aggressive as he manages the game.
"Before this year, we haven't really had the tools to be as
aggressive as we'd like," he said. "We feel we have a better chance
of scoring with a runner at first and no outs than a runner at
second and one out with the type of bats and speed we have now.
We're going to play a fast-paced, high-energy game."
Two freshmen, Patrick Kilway (Tallmadge, Ohio/Tallmadge) and
Zachary Mosbarger (Bellefontaine, Ohio/Bellefontaine) will slide
into the lineup as young players.
On the mound, freshman Adam Beach (Vermilion, Ohio/Vermilion) was
named the Southern Collegiate Baseball League's Most Valuable
Pitcher after posting a 4-0 record with a 1.19 ERA and 47
strikeouts in 46 innings for the Carolina Stingers last summer.
He will fill into the rotation at times, joining fellow
right-handers Patrick Mulligan (Brookfield, Ohio/Brookfield),
Michael Backes (Hubbard, Ohio/Hubbard) and Glenn Stewart
(Strattanville, Pa./Clarion Limestone) on a pitching staff that
looks to rebound from a tough 2009. Mulligan, Backes and Stewart
are all sophomores.
"We want to build from the ground-up. We'd like guys to work into
our system so that when they're juniors and seniors, they'll be
ready to produce," said McGee.
It is for that reason fans will not find a junior college transfer
on this season's roster.
"We have a high level of expectation from our guys over the span of
four years both on and off the field," McGee said. "That's how we
build a program."
Part of that expectation is for the Storm to face Division I
competition with a pair of games against big-time in-state
programs. Lake Erie will play at Cleveland State on March 28, and
in its next game, travel to Akron on March 30 to battle the
"We've taught the players that to be the best, you've got to beat
the best," said McGee. "We didn't schedule some of these teams and
expect to lose. We expect to beat these teams. It will test where
we're at. We have the confidence to go in and win those games."
Lake Erie is scheduled to play 10 of its home games at Classic Park
in Eastlake, Ohio, home of the Class-A Lake County Captains.
"Classic Park is a huge selling point for this program," McGee
said. "It's a high-level, classy facility and it shows how serious
we are about competing. It's the backbone of our baseball
Before playing in Northeast Ohio, though, the Storm will embark on
its spring trip to the Carolinas, where they will play 10 games.
From that, McGee hopes to develop a lineup he can use on a
"We'll battle through the spring trip and when we get back, we want
to have a pretty steady lineup for the rest of the season," he
The Storm's first 27 games are all on the road, before opening the
home season at Classic Park against Alderson-Broaddus for a March
The Storm also has five games against future Great Lakes
Intercollegiate Athletic Conference foes Ohio Dominican, Ashland
and Tiffin. Those games will act as measuring sticks to see how
Lake Erie stacks up against the GLIAC - and McGee, again, expects
the Storm to rise to the challenge. He didn't mince words when
talking about what he expects from his team in the next couple
"We expect to make the conference postseason next year. We're
putting the right players on the field and next year when those
guys are juniors and seniors, we are going to compete."
That is a far cry from where the program was just three years ago
when McGee took over the program. He led the Storm to its
first-ever conference postseason in 2008, his first season at the
helm and the last year Lake Erie was at the Division III level in
the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference.
"People outside of this baseball family don't understand what's
taking place," McGee said. "We are one of the most improved
programs in the state, if not the country."
It is now a program that expects to be somewhere a year from
now, a program that believes it can win at the highest level and
one that will not take losing lightly.
"As coaches, we instill in them the importance of team play and
chemistry and to compete with a ‘win-at-all-costs attitude,'"
"[Two years ago] we were starting to get our blocks in place," he
said. "Now, we have our team in place and we're ready to climb the
mountain. We've gathered all our pieces and everything we need, and
we're ready to climb. It's all about the climb."