Pitchers go '1' and '1', Storm goes 2-0 at Walsh

Pitchers go '1' and '1', Storm goes 2-0 at Walsh

NORTH CANTON, Ohio – Lake Erie pitching has been front-and-center in the Storm's recent surge through the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. On Wednesday at Walsh, it was more of the same with LEC arms leading the way in a pair of pitcher's duels in North Canton, Ohio.

Junior left-hander Heath Kelley tossed the first complete game of his career in a 3-1 victory for the Storm in the opener. Freshman right-hander Christopher Tomshack and righty reliever Brandon Grunda combined for seven innings on one-run ball in a 2-1 nightcap.

With the twin victories on the road, the Storm (20-14, 14-7 GLIAC) have now won a season-high five games in a row and eight of their last nine. LEC upped its GLIAC winning percentage to a hefty .667, and the Green & White are now two games over .500 (12-10) in overall road tilts. The wins also pull off a season sweep for Lake Erie, an impressive three-game sweep against the Cavaliers (17-20, 19-10) that saw LEC yield just one run in each game.

In Lake Erie going 8-1 since April 6, Storm hurlers have combined to crank out an earned run average of 1.88.

Game 1
Lake Erie little ball pushed across run No. 1 in the opener. Josh Hudeck was hit by a pitch in leading off the game. Hudeck was bunted over (Sean Mathews) to second and then singled to third (Lucas Raley). He crossed home on a Zack DeCamp sacrifice fly to right.

Staked to a 1-0 lead, Heath Kelley pitched out of a Walsh scoring situation in the bottom of the first. Lake Erie extended its lead to 3-0 in the third when Raley doubled, DeCamp reached on an error and Aaron Lindgren tripled, all with two outs in the inning.

Those three LEC runs loomed large in a game that saw Kelley cruise. The junior southpaw yielded a single in the first and a double in the second. Uncharacteristically getting a slew of outs through the air, on pop-ups and fly-outs, Kelley wouldn't yield another base hit until the sixth.

Kelley's mound foe was freshman left-hander Matt Iosue, and Iosue mtahced Kelley, zero-for-zero after the third. When the Cavaliers came to bat in the bottom of the seventh, they were trailing, 3-0. In that final at-bat, Walsh scored its lone run. Prior to a two-out single with a runner on second, Kelley had held the Cavaliers to an 0-for-9 mark with runners in scoring position.

For the game, Kelley induced 13 fly-ball outs and three groundball outs. He scattered six hits and allowed one walk while fanning five. In 27-1/3 road innings this season, Kelley has yielded just three earned runs (0.99 ERA).

Game 2
Tomshack took to the mound for game No. 2, with the start marking the first of his collegiate career. And the freshman didn't disappoint.

Regaining his composure after a rough first inning that saw him hit a batter and yield two singles – and a run – Tomshack turned his starting debut into a baffling experience … for the Walsh batters. Inducing soft contact and getting a mix of ground balls and harmless pop-ups, the Avon, Ohio, product only gave up one hit – an infield single – after the first. He hung zeroes in the second, third, fourth and fifth and would eventually yield to Grunda having tossed four straight scoreless frames, two of which were 1-2-3 affairs.

But even after Tomshack's heroics, Lake Erie still found itself down, 1-0, when he left the mound after five. That would change in a hurry.

Derrick Turocy led off the Storm sixth with a single. After a sacrifice bunt, Josh Hudeck walked and Sean Mathews grounded out, putting runners at second and third with two out. Enter Lucas Raley, he of the .350 batting average and team-high 23 RBIs.

Raley singled to left-center, plating both runners and leap-frogging the Storm into a 2-1 lead. The freshman sensation went a combined 3-for-6 with a double and two RBIs on the day.

Leading 2-1, Head Coach Brian McGee then went to Grunda, who went into the game with an ERA of 1.96 since March 22. Grunda was due to face Walsh's 2-3-and-4 batters in the bottom of the sixth. The veteran right-hander set all three down in order and then, with the score still 2-1, did the same to the Cavaliers' 5-6-and-7 hitters in the seventh.

End of game. Continuation of streak.

Lake Erie is now slated to play nationally-ranked Grand Valley State (Mich.) on Friday and Saturday.

    
Notes: Heath Kelley has been a run-stopper in more ways than one this season. The port-sider who now owns a tidy ERA of 1.26 held Walsh without a stolen base on Wednesday. In 43 innings pitched, Kelley has allowed just two steals (in three attempts). As a team, LEC has yielded 33 thefts in 43 attempts. … Sophomore third baseman Zack DeCamp had a six-game hit streak snapped in Wednesday's opener – he went 0-for-2 with a sacrifice fly in the game. The sophomore slugger went 1-for-3 in Wednesday's second game. … Lucas Raley is batting .414/.514/.793 (batting/on-base/slugging) over LEC's last nine games. Prior to Wednesday's nightcap – which saw him collect a game-winning single – Raley had notched at least one extra-base hit in five straight games. He has now hit safely in six straight games and has registered seven multi-RBI games on the year. … Aaron Lindgren's game-one triple marked the 10th of his career. He is Lake Erie's all-time triples leader. … Leadoff batter Josh Hudeck reached base four times on the afternoon. He now owns a .346 on-base percentage this season. … As a team LEC got its leadoff hitters aboard in just 3-of-14 innings. That performance comes on the heels of the Storm posting a .500 OBP in such situations over their previous five games.


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