ASHLAND, OHIO – Junior Glenn Stewart (Strattanville, Pa./Clarion Limestone) tossed a six-hit shutout in a 6-0 game one victory as the Lake Erie College baseball team earned a split of its road doubleheader at perennial Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference power Ashland University Thursday (April 7) at Donges Field. Game two was a back-and-forth affair that nearly went to dark before the host Eagles came away with a 5-4 win in 10 innings.
Stewart (2-0) was masterful in the opener as the 6-5 righty limited the Midwest Region's third-ranked team to just six hits in seven innings, picking up his first career shutout and third complete game. All six hits were singles, the third straight game Storm pitchers did not surrender an extra base hit. He struck out two and did not walk a batter.
The Storm (10-12, 3-7 GLIAC) were aggressive all day long. Lake Erie scored its first run in the second on a double steal, with senior Brandon James (Mentor, Ohio/Mentor) sliding home for a 1-0 lead. The Storm added an unearned run in the second and junior Kyle Kemp (Fredericksburg, Va./James Monroe) followed with an RBI single to make it 3-0.
Sophomore Cody Blood (Conneaut, Ohio/Conneaut) singled home a run in the fourth and more aggressive base running led to two more runs in the fifth. Junior Brayan Cacique (Lakeland C.C.) stole third as part of another double steal and scored when catcher Ian McNichol's throw went into left field. Two batters later classmate Ryan Rua (Amherst, Ohio/Amherst) crossed home plate following a wild pitch.
Stewart allowed a pair of singles in the bottom of the seventh, but retired the final two hitters on a pop-up and groundout to thwart the Ashland (13-10, 4-6 GLIAC) comeback attempt and close the game.
Cacique and Kemp each had two hits to lead the Storm in the opener, while Rua and Cacique each scored twice. Eric Vaughn allowed four runs (two earned) in four innings for Ashland, falling to 1-2.
After James and Kemp singled in runs in the top of the first, the Storm had a 2-0 lead early in game two. The Eagles scored a run in the third on a fielder's choice and then went ahead 3-2 in the fourth with an RBI double by Tyler Gray and a run-scoring single by Austin Erb.
Gray's double was the first extra base hit allowed by Storm pitching in 29 1/3 innings.
A two-out single by junior Matt Toth (Lorain, Ohio/Admiral King) tied the game at 3-3 in the top of the seventh and sophomore Doug Fox (Parma, Ohio/Valley Forge) got out of a two-on, one-out jam to force extra innings.
James doubled to give the Storm the lead in the eighth, but the Eagles answered right back to knot it at 4-4 on a single by Mitch Klein.
Ryan Avery led off the bottom of the ninth with a double, but was erased by a head's up, if not slight of hand, play when Rua pulled the "hidden ball trick". The Eagles went quietly after that in the frame.
James singled to right in the top of the 10th- his third hit of the game- but was stranded. In the bottom of the inning, Evan Melendez was hit by a pitch and stole second. Gray singled to left and Melendez scored the winning run when James was unable to come up with the ball, ending the Storm's longest game since Feb. 28, 2010.
In addition to James' three hits, Toth, Kemp and Blood each had two in the night cap as the Storm banged out 13 hits. The trio of James, Blood and Rua each extended their respective hitting streaks to six games.
Lake Erie remained aggressive on the bases in game two, stealing six bases in a school-record-tying nine attempts. The Storm stole four in the opener, giving them 10 for the two games.
Sophomore Adam Beach (Vermillion, Ohio/Vermillion) pitched five innings and allowed three runs on four hits with three walks and a pair of strikeouts. Fox followed with three innings of solid relief work, allowing just a run on four hits. Freshman D.J. Stastny (Macedonia, Ohio/Trinity) was charged with the loss, giving up an unearned run in 1 1/3 innings after hitting Melendez in the 10th.
Aaron Hilt (2-1) picked up the win for Ashland with two innings of one-hit relief. Starter Brad Thomas gave up two runs on seven hits in four innings.
The Eagles had 10 hits in game two, including two each by Melendez, Gray and Avery. Melendez scored three times, including the game-winner.
After splitting the last six games – all on the road – the Storm returns home this weekend for a four-game series with Tiffin University beginning Saturday, April 9, at 1 p.m. at Classic Park in Eastlake. The series will continue Sunday at noon at Braggs Field in Painesville Kiwanis Recreation Park.