PAINESVILLE, Ohio – It was implausible and improbable and certainly imperfect, but Lake Erie managed a colossal comeback in game two to salvage a split against Hillsdale (Mich.) in Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference action on Saturday.
The Storm dropped the opener, 7-3, in a game that included a 64-minute rain delay. The nightcap included what seemed like a 64-minute derail, with the home nine falling apart in coughing up seven unanswered runs in the game's fourth, fifth and sixth innings. But the Storm did have a final answer and that was a wild, eight-run comeback in the bottom of the sixth.
In game one Hillsdale (17-13, 14-18) plated runs in each of the first three innings, and the Chargers went on to outhit the Storm, 12-7. LEC plated two runs in the bottom of the first inning but managed only one run the rest of the way. Brian Kilway started for LEC; he and Connor Fuller split 6-2/3 innings. Kilway yielded five runs and Fuller allowed two.
Lucas Raley (2-for-4, two RBIs) and Garrett Emling (2-for-3, one RBI) provided most of the Storm offense for the game. The rest of the lineup went a combined 3-for-22. Emling hit his third home run of the season in the sixth.
Hillsdale batters went 6-for-13 with runners in scoring position.
In the nightcap, the Chargers again struck first. Hillsdale plated three runs on three hits, a walk and a Storm error. But the Storm countered with five runs of their own, with three of those runs coming courtesy an Aaron Lindgren home run. Hillsdale was charged with three errors in the inning.
Things then fell apart for the Storm in the fifth. The Chargers sent 10 to the plate, battering starter heath Kelley and the LEC bullpen to the tune of a five-spot on six singles. The disaster inning ended only on a bases-loaded double-play grounder induced by right-hander Brandon Grunda, the Storm's third hurler of the inning.
Trailing, 8-5, a seemingly disconnected Lake Erie squad went quietly in the fourth and fifth innings. In the top of the sixth, the Chargers appeared to be en route to a sweep when they plated two more runs to go up by five (10-5).
The, in the bottom of the sixth, Lake Erie made an out and then a second that was preceded by an Emling double. With two outs each of the next nine Storm batters reached base. The rally included an RBI single by Rutger Luebke, an RBI single by Josh Hudeck, a two-run single by Raley and an RBI single by Zack DeCamp. Finally, after all of that, a two-run single by Emling broke a 10-10 tie. A Lou Peterlin single added one more run, and the Storm had turned a 10-5 deficit into a 13-10 lead. All in the most improbable fashion – with two outs and licking the wounds of being outplayed on the Braggs Field diamond for 12-1/2 straight innings.
In the 23-run, 25-hit second game, Lake Erie and Hillsdale combined to go 11-of-23 with runners in scoring position.
The Storm and Chargers are slated to meet Sunday at noon to close out the three-game series.
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