PAINESVILLE, OHIO – Lake Erie College (23-19, 19-9 GLIAC) split a pair of one-run thrillers against conference foe Saginaw Valley State University (21-19, 17-11) to stay in second place in Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference standings. The Storm took game one in nine innings, 3-2, before falling in the night cap 5-4.
The final hero of game one was senior Josh Crout (Hamilton, Ohio/Edgewood). In a pinch hitting appearance in the ninth inning, Crout singled through the left side to score junior Cody Blood (Conneaut, Ohio/Conneaut) and give Lake Erie the victory.
The contest was a battle of aces as SVSU's Mike Saunders and Lake Erie sophomore Brian Kilway (Tallmadge, Ohio/Tallmadge) came into the contest ranked first and second in the GLIAC in ERA, respectively. Neither disappointed as Saunders allowed two runs (one earned) over eight innings while striking out nine. Kilway fanned six while allowing one run in five-plus innings.
However, neither pitcher figured in the decision as it was Storm junior reliever Doug Fox (Parma, Ohio/Valley Forge) who picked up the win. Fox (2-0) allowed just one run and one hit over four innings of relief work. His most impressive work came in the sixth inning when forced a home-to-first double play and a fly out after entering with a bases loaded, no out jam.
The Cardinals struck first with a lone run in the first inning and the score stayed that way until the bottom of the fourth. With two outs and nobody on freshman Aaron Lindgren (Willoughby, Ohio/Willoughby South) doubled and senior Kyle Kemp (Spotsylvania, Va./James Monroe) singled him in. An error advanced Kemp to third which proved huge when senior Nick Lovick (Mentor, Ohio/Mentor) singled to bring him home and give Lake Erie the 2-1 advantage.
Fox preserved that 2-1 lead in the sixth inning but a leadoff double and small ball by the Cardinals with a sacrifice bunt and a sacrifice fly knotted the game at 2-2. Lake Erie got a pair of runners on in the bottom of the seventh and eighth innings but could not get the two-out hit it needed in either inning. Fox set SVSU down in order in the eighth and worked around an error in the ninth, setting up Crout's game-winning heroics.
Lindgren, Lovick and senior outfielder Matt Toth (Lorain, Ohio/Admiral King) each had two of Lake Erie's 11 hits in the game.
In game two, sophomore Reid Rizzo (Cincinnati, Ohio/LaSalle) led off with a single and was doubled in by senior Brayan Cacique (Caracas, Venezuela/John I. Leonard (Fla.)/Lakeland CC). Junior Logan Nordquist (Alliance, Ohio/Alliance) did not allow a hit through two frames but got on the board to tie the game in the top of the third.
Lake Erie came right back to take the lead when Cacique again drove in Rizzo, this time on a sacrifice fly. A two-run home run to right in the fourth gave the visitors a 3-2 advantage but senior Johnny Christani (Chardon, Ohio/Chardon) singled to knock in Blood and tie the game.
The Storm went back on top in fifth when junior Pat Kilway (Tallmadge, Ohio/Tallmadge) hit a ground rule double to bring in Toth but it did not last. Nordquist exited with two runners on and none out in the sixth and both came around to score what would be the game winning runs.
Lake Erie went down in order in the sixth but had a chance in the seventh, loading the bases before SVSU's Mike Schaaf came on to shut the door with a strikeout.
Toth went 3-for-3 in game two and is now 11-for-13 his past four games. Rizzo also had a multi-hit game with a pair of singles as Lake Erie outhit Saginaw, 10-8
Lake Erie and Saginaw Valley State will be back in action tomorrow to close out the four-game set. First pitch of the doubleheader is slated for noon.