COLUMBIA, Md. - The Lake Erie College Storm baseball team earned their first two wins of the 2019 season this past weekend at Blandair Park. The team faced the Lock Haven University Bald Eagles, and the Millersville University Marauders in two seven-inning double headers.
The Storm matchup (Friday, Feb. 22) against Lock Haven resulted in a split. The Storm took the first game, with a final score of 2-1, and dropped the second with a final score of 5-0.
In the first game, the Storm got off to a quick start. In the bottom of the first, Trace Peterson hit a two-run homer to right field, and scored Corbin Paxton who was hit by a pitch. While they did not score any additional runs, the Storm did have seven hits in the game. David Lemasters got the start on the bump for the Storm, and faced 24 batters in six innings of work, giving up six hits and one earned run while earning 14 strike-outs in his first win of his senior season. Chris Mutter came in to close and faced five batters, giving up one walk and hit while earning one strike out and his first save of the year.
In the second game of the double header, Corbin Paxton hit a double in the first inning, but that was just about the only offensive production the Storm would have as they got four hits in the shut-out loss to the Bald Eagles. Evan Layne started for the Storm, and gave up four hits, two earned runs, and three walks while earning six strike-outs in his first outing of 2019 that ended up in a loss.
The Sunday (Feb. 24) double-header against the Marauders also resulted in a split. Millersville took the first game with a final score of 8-3, and the Storm finished their trip with a win in the second game with a final score of 6-4.
Millersville started off the first game of the Sunday double-header earning an unassisted groundout to first basemen Corbin Paxton, and a strike-out. The first two runs came by back-to-back RBI singles for the Marauders, which ultimately put runners at first and second. Starting pitcher Evan Layne got out of the jam with a ground out to third baseman Colin Minor, which ended the top of the first with a score of 2-0 in favor of Millersville.
Storm senior Nigel Williams started the bottom of the second inning off with a single, and Storm senior Rees Rua moved him to second base with a single of his own, followed by a walk by Minor. With bases juiced, Sam Browning grounded out to second base, but moved Rua and Minor while scoring Williams for the first Storm run of the game. Nathan Erzen grounded out to second base as well, but scored Rua which tied the game up at two.
In the top of the fourth inning, Layne gave up a home run after getting two outs, and Millersville took a 3-2 lead. The Storm gave up five runs on four hits and one error in the top of the sixth, which extended the Marauder lead to six. The Storm still had some fight left in them in the bottom of the sixth, which began by back-to-back walks by Trace Peterson and Williams. Rua reached first on an error, which loaded the bases in the process. Peterson scored on a fielders' choice hit by Minor, which gave the game the ultimate final score of 8-3.
A slew of pitchers worked in game one of the double-header, but Ryan Middendorf earned the start, and was credited with his first loss of the season. He pitched five innings, giving up three earned runs on nine hits, one of which was a home run. Both Middendorf and Brad Curry, who came in to close in relief, earned three strike-outs.
The bats came out early in the second game, as the Storm scored all six runs in the first two innings. Forrest Longaway walked to lead off, and was then moved to second on a wild pitch. Corbin Paxton and Trace Peterson both walked, which loaded the bases. Nigel Williams struck out to give Millersville their first out, but Rees Rua bailed him out with a single, driving in Longaway and moving runners to second and third base. A double by Sam Browning scored both Peterson and Paxton while moving Rua to third. Anthony Jackson hit a two RBI single, scoring Browning and Rua to put the Storm up 5-0 in the top of the first. All three outs in the top half of the inning were strike-outs.
The Marauders reached first and second after their lead-off man was hit by a pitch followed by a walk. They scored two runs in the bottom of the first on an RBI double, and the inning ended with Storm catcher Nathan Ezren throwing a runner out at third base.
The top of the second started for the Storm with a pair of strike-outs, but Peterson walked and was moved to second base with a single by senior Nigel Williams. Rua loaded the bases with a single of his own, and Sam Browning drew a walk to score Peterson, making the score 6-2.
Millersville chipped away, but ultimately didn't get the job done, and the Storm won with a final score of 6-4.
Storm pitcher Brian D'Andrea got the start and faced 13 batters, giving up three earned runs on two hits and two walks. Freshman and dual-athlete (Football, QB) Wyatt Smith was brought in to face 13 batters of his own in relief, and gave up three walks and one hit while earning five strike-outs. Chris Mutter was credited with his third save of the year, striking out three and giving up one earned run on one hit.
Head coach Ray Skjold was pleased with the trip to Maryland. "I felt like we played strong competition this weekend", said Skjold. "Lemasters pitched one heck of a game to get us our first win on a Friday morning. Our second win on Sunday was a full team effort. We had lots of different players contribute to the victory. Our guys competed with great passion and energy to earn the win. Sunday nights' game displayed exactly the type of mentality we are trying to develop here at Lake Erie."
Jr. Corbin Paxton- .333 batting average, .375 on base percentage, .500 slugging percentage, five hits, two runs scored, one double, and four RBIs
Sr. Rees Rua- .333 batting average, .375 on base percentage, .333 slugging percentage, five hits, two runs scored, and one RBI
Jr. Sam Browning- .250 batting average, .455 on base percentage, .375 slugging percentage, three runs scored, one double, four RBIs.
Sr. David Lemasters- 1-0 pitching record, 10.2 innings pitched, 2 earned runs, four walks, 17 strikeouts, 1.69 ERA.
Lake Erie will take the field again on Saturday, Mar. 9 when the team heads on the road for a three-game series against Urbana. It will be a nice warm up for the Storm, as their conference season starts on Saturday, Mar. 16 when they head to Kentucky Wesleyan for two double headers.
Lake Erie is set to open the season at home against Trevecca Nazarene on Friday, Mar. 22 at 2pm.