WASHINGTON, Pa. – A seventh-inning collapse felled Lake Erie on Sunday afternoon, and sent the Storm westward, back to Painesville without a win in four tries against the California (Pa.) Vulcans.
After losing two games on Saturday and Sunday's opener, LEC found itself up, 2-0, in the final inning of game four. But a costly error, three hits and a walk produced three runs for the home nine and put the Storm (6-7) under .500 for the first time this season.
California outhit Lake Erie, 8-5, in the opener, and five of the Vulcan's hits came in a decisive second inning.
Right-hander Russ Hogue started for LEC, and he retired the first four batters he faced. But a Mick Fennell single started a hit parade that saw the home nine put five hits and an error together for four runs.
Junior right-hander Justin Taylor started for California, and after escaping a bases-loaded situation in the top of the second, Taylor went the rest of the game without allowing an RBI situation. Lake Erie managed its lone run when Zack DeCamp hit his first home run of the 2014 season in the sixth. DeCamp's shot down the left-field line was one of only three hits LEC mustered over the game's last five innings.
Over those mid-to-late innings, senior reliever D.J. Stastny kept the Storm within range. The veteran southpaw went four innings, allowing just a run on three hits.
It was another Storm lefty who would baffle Vulcan hitters in Sunday's nightcap. Junior port-sider Heath Kelley kept California off the scoreboard until the home side was down to its final out.
Kelley was embroiled in a 0-0 deadlock until freshman left fielder Lucas Raley tripled and scored in the Storm fourth. Raley would score again in the sixth when he was plated on a Josh Hudeck single in the sixth.
Staked to a 2-0 lead, Kelley was sent to the mound in the seventh to try and close his own victory. But the Vulcans lined out and then put two aboard on singles. LEC went to its bullpen and called on Brandon Grunda, who struck out the first batter he faced. Then, with two outs, a Lake Erie error allowed the inning to continue while scoring two California runs. The tie-breaking run would score on the next at-bat, when a come-backer to the mound was deflected into an unplayable infield hit.
The end result was Lake Erie suffering a 3-2 defeat with all three opponent runs being unearned and scored with two outs.
Over the four game series, LEC batted just .118 (2-of-19) with runners in scoring position. … Lake Erie's offense has scuffled since game No. 3 this season. Over its first three contests, LEC scored 27 runs. In eight games since, the Storm have scored more than four runs in a game just once.
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