UNIVERSITY CENTER, MICH. – Late inning rallies and plenty of extra baseball made for a wild day on Sunday (May 1) as the Lake Erie College baseball team split a doubleheader at Saginaw Valley State University, salvaging a game in the weekend series and reaching the 20-win plateau for the first time.
Sophomore Cody Blood (Conneaut, Ohio/Conneaut) had a career-high four hits and four RBI and classmate Zachary Mosbarger (Bellefontaine, Ohio/Bellefontaine) had his second game-winning home run of the season as the Storm (20-21, 13-15 GLIAC) rallied from two down in the seventh to force extra innings and then pulled out an 8-6 win in 12 innings in game one.
Lake Erie again rallied in game two, coming from 8-5 down to tie the game before the host Cardinals (18-21, 13-14 GLIAC) walked off with a 9-8 victory to take the series and move a half game in front of Lake Erie for the fourth and final Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) Tournament spot.
A two-run double by Blood in the second inning opened the day's scoring and Lake Erie took that lead into the fourth until Cam Weichmann connected for a three-run homer to give the Cardinals the lead.
Blood led off the fifth with a double and later scored on a wild pitch to tie the game. Saginaw Valley went back ahead with two runs in the sixth.
But once again, Blood was at the forefront of the LEC attack, leading off the seventh with a solo home run – his first of the season. Two hitters later, junior SS/P Ryan Rua (Amherst, Ohio/Amherst Steele) singled in pinch runner Garrett Emling (Tallmadge, Ohio/Tallmadge) to knot the score at 5-5.
A sacrifice fly by junior DH Kyle Kemp (Fredericksburg, Va./James Monroe) in the ninth gave the Storm its first lead since the early innings, but the Cardinals came right back with a run of their own in the bottom of the frame.
The Storm bullpen escaped three bases-loaded jams in the extra innings, keeping the game going into the 12th. Mosbarger, who helped the Storm to a 5-4 win over Northwood on April 23 with a two-run fifth-inning home run, pulled one over the fence in right with one out in the 12th off Andrew Tidwell (2-1) to put LEC up 7-6. Blood added an RBI single later in the frame for an insurance run.
After junior Matt Vanni (Willowick, Ohio/Cleveland Benedictine) tossed a scoreless 11th to earn the win (2-0), freshman Brian Kilway (Tallmadge, Ohio/Tallmadge) – the game two starter – came on and threw a perfect 12th on only seven pitches to notch his second save.
Blood was 4-for-5 at the plate to lead Lake Erie's 16-hit attack. Rua chipped in with three hits of his own while sophomore Pat Kilway (Tallmadge, Ohio/Tallmadge) and senior Brandon James (Mentor, Ohio/Mentor) each had two.
Four Storm relievers combined to allow just one run on six hits over the final 6 2/3 innings.
Four different Cardinals had two hits and Saginaw Valley finished with 11 for the game.
Kemp's sacrifice fly in the first inning of game two gave the Storm a 1-0 lead, but the Cardinals answered back with four in the bottom of the inning off Kilway, who lasted just one inning in the nightcap.
A Matt Toth (Lorain, Ohio/Admiral King) single in the second and a two-run double by Pat Kilway in the third briefly tied the score at 4-4 before Matt Hunt's two-run single in the bottom of the inning put the Cardinals back in front.
Rua doubled in Mosbarger in the fourth, but again Saginaw Valley answered with a two-run single by Kyle Parks that made the score 8-5.
In the fifth, Blood singled in two runs and Toth drove in another to tie the score.
After two scoreless innings of relief, sophomore Pat Sinko (Hudson, Ohio/Hudson) walked Parks to lead off the seventh. An error, intentional walk and wild pitch put Parks at third with nobody out. Eric Burt then dropped down a bunt up the first base line to score Parks with the winning run.
The Storm had 14 more hits in game two, including three by Toth. James, Kilway and Mosbarger each had two as did junior Brayan Cacique (Caracas, Venezuela/Lakeland C.C.). Blood had a hit and drove in two runs in the nightcap, giving him six RBI on the day.
Four Cardinals had two hits in game two. Justin Drzewicki (1-2) earned the win in relief. Sinko (1-1) suffered the loss.
With its 20th win, Lake Erie reached a season win total never before reached since the program begin in 2002. The Storm has set a season wins record in three out of head coach Brian McGee's four seasons.
Lake Erie starts the stretch run and the final week of the regular season on Wednesday, May 4, when it travels to Columbus, Ohio for an important doubleheader at Ohio Dominican University.