Mulligan's Gem Leads Storm in Split with SIU

Mulligan's Gem Leads Storm in Split with SIU
PAINESVILLE, Ohio – For the second straight game, a Lake Erie pitcher took a no-hitter into the fifth inning on the way to a 5-3 win in the opener of a doubleheader at Braggs Field against Salem International on Thursday (April 22) afternoon. The Storm dropped game two, 9-5.
 
Sophomore right-hander Pat Mulligan (Brookfield, Ohio/Brookfield) did not allow a hit through his first four innings in game one while facing just one over the minimum. Mulligan walked Sean Williamson with one out in the first inning, but he got Kenneth Minor to ground into a 4-6-3 double play to end the inning.
 
The Lake Erie offense got on the board in the bottom of the first inning with a short two-out rally. Ryan Rua (Amherst, Ohio/Amherst) singled to left before Brandon James (Mentor, Ohio/Mentor) clobbered his seventh home run of the season to the opposite field.
 
With the Fighting Tigers (11-32) hitless, the Storm again put up a pair of runs in the third inning. Cody Blood (Conneaut, Ohio/Conneaut) and Matt Toth (Lorain, Ohio/Admiral King) singled to start the rally. Rua followed with an RBI double to right-center before James drove in his third run of the game with a sacrifice fly to give the Storm a 4-0 lead.
 
Lake Erie tacked on its fifth run in the fourth inning. Nick Lovick (Mentor, Ohio/Mentor) singled and Matt Lott (Newark, Ohio/Newark Catholic) doubled to start the inning and Mike Morgan (Indian Lake, Ohio/Russells Point) delivered a sacrifice fly to make it 5-0.
 
After a pair of singles broke up the no-hitter off Mulligan in the fifth, Trevor Hall delivered an RBI single up the middle to trim the Storm's lead to 5-1.
 
Salem International added two more runs in the seventh off Mulligan before Pat Sinko (Hudson, Ohio/Trinity) recorded the last two outs for his first save.
 
Mulligan worked 6 1/3 innings in the win, allowing three runs on four hits with three walks and three strikeouts. Michel Valas tossed a complete game, but took the loss, surrendering five runs on seven hits in six innings. He struck out seven and walked one.
 
Rua was the only Storm player to record two hits, while James drove in three runs and went 1-for-2.
 
The Storm struggled in the nightcap, as the Tigers took a 5-0 lead in the third inning off Rua, who started for Lake Erie.
 
The Storm got one run back in the fourth inning as Rua reached on an error and moved to second on a single by James. Rua, who advanced to third on Jae Leeworthy's (Newton Falls, Ohio/Newton Falls) flyout, scored on an infield single by Lott.
 
The Tigers scored two runs each in the fifth and seventh innings to create more separation, which came in handy as the Storm rallied in the bottom of the seventh. Lovick and Patrick Kilway (Tallmadge, Ohio/Tallmadge) each had pinch hits to put two runners on and Cale Marker (Greenville, Ohio/Greenville) brought in a run on a single. Rua followed with a three-run home run to left-center – his 11th of the season. But the Storm's rally ended there.
 
Lott and Matt Vanni (Willowick, Ohio/Benedictine) had two hits apiece in the second game and Jason Mickley had three hits (all doubles), three runs, three RBI for the Tigers. Kevin Demattos earned the win for Salem International tossing 6 2/3 innings and allowing five runs (four earned) on 10 hits with no walks and four strikeouts.

With the victory in the opener, the Storm is now just two wins away from setting the program's all-time record for wins in a season (17) set in 2008.
 
Lake Erie will have the chance to tie the record on Friday (April 22) at 1 p.m. when the Storm finishes the series with the Tigers with a single nine-inning game at Braggs Field.