LAKE ERIE (26-16, 20-9 GLIAC) vs. MALONE (17-28, 12-17 GLIAC)
The Storm head into the final week of the regular season looking to finish strong in their push toward a league pennant. This week's slate calls for four games, the first of which is scheduled as a home game against the Malone Pioneers on Wednesday afternoon.
Lake Erie saw a program-best win string continue – improbably in the nightcap – in a twin bill at Malone last week (April 22). The Storm were then swept in a Saturday doubleheader by Wayne State (Mich.) before salvaging the final game of a three-game series at Braggs Field. So, LEC heads into Wednesday's contest having won 11-of-its-last-13. Storm pitching over that stretch has been outstanding – the Lake Erie staff has an ERA of 2.70 since April 12.
Malone heads into its final four games with a mathematical-but-unlikely chance of making the six-team Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference postseason field. MU's prospects of making the league's May 7-10 tournament in Xenia,Ohio, were much the better until losing each of its last seven games, six of which were GLIAC games.
But Lake Erie heads into the week knowing it will be Xenia-bound; the Storm have already locked up one of the tournament's top three seeds. They enter Wednesday's affair in third place in the GLIAC standings. LEC's 26 wins are one shy of the program-record 27 the team pulled off in 2012.
SERIES: With two wins in a Thurman Munson Stadium doubleheader last week, Lake Erie is 4-5 all-time against the Pioneers. The Storm are 4-1 in their last five against Malone. Over those five games, LEC pitching owns a 1.98 ERA.
HOT BAT AT THE HOT CORNER: 3B Zack DeCamp batted .350 (7-of-20) with two doubles in five games last week. The sophomore third sacker had a game-winning RBI single as part of a comeback road win at Malone on April 22. He had four hits, including two doubles, in three games against a Wayne State pitching staff that ranks second in the GLIAC in ERA. In two seasons in Storm Green & White, DeCamp is batting .320 (97-of-303) with 20 doubles, seven home runs and 42 RBIs.
LEAGUE LEADING LEFTY: P Heath Kelley allowed just three runs over two starts last week and hasn't allowed more than two earned runs in any start this season. The southpaw from Mentor, Ohio, owns a 1.46 ERA on the season, and that mark leads the GLIAC and ranks 17th in the nation. In 55-2/3 innings pitched, Kelley has walked just 10 batters this season. … As a staff, Lake Erie has compiled a would-be-program-best 3.42 ERA in 2014. That mark sits more-than two runs lower than the 5.59 figure LEC posted a year ago.
DERBY-WEEK HORSE REFERENCE: LEC's starting pitchers have been horses in 2014, completing 10 games and combining to pitch 70 percent of the Storm's 316 innings. The Lake Erie starters own an aggregate 3.35 ERA and they have walked just 2.6 batters per nine innings. LEC's 10 complete games mark the program's most in a season since 2004.
RAGING ON: The Storm have gone five straight games – their longest stretch of the season – since their last stolen base. … LEC has committed 52 errors in 42 games. The team was tagged for 74 errors in a 48-game 2013 campaign and 90 miscues in the 53-game 2012 season. Lake Erie's .962 fielding percentage this season ranks as the best mark in the program's 13-year history. … The Storm offense has thus far posted the program's lowest on-base percentage (.340) since 2004, but LEC batters have worked their way aboard in clutch leadoff situations. When leading off an inning, Storm batters own a .377 OBP.
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