ATHENS, W. Va. – The Lake Erie College baseball team used a late rally and the bullpen extinguished a ninth-inning rally as the Storm defeated the Concord Mountain Lions 4-3 on Saturday (March 4).
"I thought Mitch [Sorensen] gave us a solid start on a tough day to pitch, couldn't get his changeup quite working so he battled with two pitches," added Storm head coach Cameron Castro. "And Aaron [Kucia] did a terrific job keeping us in it, came in throwing strikes out of the bullpen, and that point of the game could have gone either way, and he kept us right there. And [Michael] Stryffeler showed why he's so good at the back end, he doesn't get rattled. He stayed composed, and made big pitches when he needed to. We were fortunate enough to have a couple guys back there like that."
Concord opened up a 2-0 lead in the third inning on two RBI singles. Starter Mitch Sorensen (Avon Lake, Ohio / Avon Lake) allowed two runs in four and one third innings with two strikeouts.
Aaron Kucia (Brunswick, Ohio / Cuyahoga Heights) entered and shut down the Mountain Lions with three and one third innings of one-hit ball.
In the seventh inning, the Storm cut the lead to 2-1. Second baseman Austin Bovenzi (Fairport, N.Y. / McQuaid Jesuit) reached on a fielding error with two outs. Centerfielder Jacob Armstrong (Clarkston, Mich. / Clarkston) followed with a single of his own. Designated hitter Sam Browning (Cincinnati, Ohio / Archbishop McNicholas) singled home Bovenzi.
A sacrifice fly tied the game in the eighth for Lake Erie. First baseman Wes Birchmeier (Miamisburg, Ohio / Miamisburg) led off the frame with a double to left field. A sacrifice bunt advanced Birchmeier to third base with no outs. Shortstop Caleb Waller (Vermilion, Ohio / Vermilion) plated Birchmeier with a fly ball to center field.
Lake Erie added two more runs in the top of the ninth inning. The leadoff hitter walked before a pinch runner replaced him. A sacrifice bunt and two straight walks loaded the bases for Birchmeier. Birchmeier lined a single to left, scoring two runs. Lake Erie led 4-2 going to the bottom of the ninth.
"Birch came up huge there in the 9th but we also got a big sac fly from [Caleb] Waller an inning earlier. It just took us a little while to get going. Need to take advantage of opportunities when we have them offensively and thought we squandered a few today early on."
Concord loaded the bases in the ninth and scratched across a run. Michael Stryffeler (Sagamore Hills, Ohio / Padua Franciscan) ended the game with the bases loaded by striking out the side.
Birchmeier and Browning led the Storm with two hits, with Browning walking three times.
"I'd expect our guys to be pretty focused for the doubleheader tomorrow. If we can roll over some of that momentum, we created late then we'll be just fine tomorrow."
The Storm and the Mountain Cats will resume the series with a doubleheader on Sunday (March 4), starting at 12:00 PM.