Comeback Bid Not Enough as Storm Drops Pair at Flagler in Season Opener

Matt Toth (Photo by Timothy Sofranko)
Matt Toth (Photo by Timothy Sofranko)

ST. AUGUSTINE, FLA. –  The Lake Erie College baseball team rallied from a six-run deficit to tie the game, but host Flagler College scored on a wild pitch with two outs in the final inning for an 8-7 victory in game two to earn a sweep over the Storm Sunday night (March 6) in St. Augustine, Fla.

Escaping the Northeast Ohio winter for its first games of 2011, the Storm (0-2) got off to a rough start against their seasoned opponents with a 15-7 loss in the season opener before the heartbreaking setback in game two.

Flagler (11-8) led the nightcap 7-1 heading into the sixth inning before Storm scored four times against the Flagler bullpen.  James doubled in a run and junior Josh Crout (Hamilton, Ohio/Edgewood) followed with a single before classmate and pinch hitter Kyle Kemp (Fredericksburg, Va./James Monroe) drove in a pair with a base hit up the middle.

The Storm had runners on the corners with just one out before Flagler closer Max Rousch came on and struck out two straight to end the threat.  After redshirt sophomore J.D. Ingalls (Madison, Ohio/Madison) got a double-play grounder to get out of a threat in the bottom of the inning, the Storm scored twice in the top of the next inning to knot the score.

Junior newcomer Brayan Cacique bunted for a single and advanced to second on an error.  Junior Matt Toth (Lorain, Ohio/Admiral King) doubled down the line to score him and then came around with the tying run on a single by freshman Reid Rizzo (Cincinnati, Ohio/LaSalle).

Charlie Stewart singled for his third hit of the game to chase Ingalls to open the home half of the seventh.  Sophomore Jimmie Shaw (Holland, Ohio/Toledo St. John) struck out Will Percy and got Nate Fudala to ground out, but Stewart advanced to third thanks to a balk. After a walk to Devon Hellet, a wild throw from Shaw eluded the glove of catcher Johnny Christani (Chardon, Ohio/Chardon), allowing Stewart to cross the plate with the winning run.

The Storm struck first in the game, as a Flagler error allowed senior Brandon James (Mentor, Ohio/Mentor) to score in the top of the second for a 1-0 lead. 

That lead would be short lived, however, as the host Saints pieced together two runs in their half of the second on a hit batter, a double, throwing error and sacrifice fly.  Flagler then scored five times in the fourth, highlighted by a three-run home run by Jose Rohena, to go up 7-1.

Micah Kellog held LEC to just one unearned run on three hits in five innings before the Flagler bullpen gave up the advantage. Despite surrendering the lead, Roush (4-1) was credited with the victory while Ingalls (0-1) was saddled with the loss despite a strong effort out of the pen. The Storm relief corps had comebined for 3 1/3 scoreless innings until the winning run scored. 

James and Cacique each had two hits.

Shoddy defense did in the Storm in the opener.  Lake Erie committed three errors in the third inning, leading to six unearned runs – all with two outs – that broke open what was just a 2-0 game at the time. The Saints took advantage of two more Storm miscues in the fourth to score four more runs and make it a 12-0 score.

Lake Erie recovered somewhat and scored four runs in the fifth, aided by a pair of Flagler errors, including a two-run single by Toth. Flagler scored single runs in the fifth, sixth and seventh, before the Storm scored three in the ninth to make it a 15-7 final. 

Toth went three-for-five  while classmate Ryan Rua (Amherst, Ohio/Amherst) had two hits and also drove in two runs.  Three Saints each had two hits and Hellet drove in three runs as Flagler had 12 hits against seven Storm hurlers.

Redshirt sophomore Adam Beach (Vermilion, Ohio/Vermilion) suffered the loss in the opener. He lasted just 2 1/3 innings, allowing eight runs, but just two earns, on five hits. Beach (0-1) struck out four but walked seven.  Jonathan Armold (2-2) got the win for Flagler, going five innings with four runs and four hits allowed.

There were 10 total errors in the first game, six by Lake Erie.

The Storm will have a day off before traveling to Saint Leo University on Tuesday, March 8, for a single game under the lights at Thomas B. Southard Stadium outside of Clearwater, Fla. First pitch is slated for 6 p.m.

-LEC-