OWENSBORO, Ky- The Lake Erie Storm baseball team opened up G-MAC conference season with a win and an incomplete game against the Kentucky Wesleyan College Panthers. The Panthers were ranked second in the 2019 G-MAC Preseason Poll with 130 points, just six behind Ohio Dominican. With the win, the Storm improves their records to 6-5 overall, and 1-0 in the G-MAC, while the Panthers fall to 5-10 overall, and 0-1 in the G-MAC.
The Storm started off hot, scoring three runs in the top of the first. Back-to-back singles by Corbin Paxton and Trace Peterson put the Storm in scoring position. A SAC fly by Nigel Williams was able to move Paxton to third base, before Caleb Waller drew a walk to load the bases. The first run came on an RBI single by Sam Browing, and a double by Anthony Jackson scored Waller and Peterson, extending the Storm lead to three.
In the bottom half of the inning, Storm right-hander hit a batter and balked which allowed a runner to reach second. The runner scored on a single to center field. Another RBI single in the bottom of the third inning for the Panthers made the score 3-2 heading into the fourth inning.
The fourth was another big inning. In the top half, the Storm scored four runs. Peterson and Williams reached on back-to-back singles. Waller scored Peterson from second base with a single of his own, and moved Williams to third base. Williams then scored on a passed ball. Sam Browning drew a walk, and with runners on first and third, Jackson hit a two-RBI triple. Kentucky Wesleyan scored two of their own in the bottom half of the inning, giving the Storm a three-run lead with a score of 7-4.
A bases loaded 4-6-3 double play added one more for the Storm in the sixth, and the Panthers scored on an RBI single. The last run of the game was scored on an unassisted groundout to third base, giving the Storm the first win of the double-header with a final score of 8-6.
Storm pitcher Ryan Middendorf earned his second win of the season, facing 36 batters in 7.1 innings. He gave up six runs, of which two were earned, on eight hits while earning three strikeouts. 74 of 111 pitches thrown were for strikes. Chris Mutter earned his first save of the year, facing four batters in the ninth inning and earning three strikeouts.
Storm senior RHP David Lemasters surpassed Adam Beach as the record-holder for career strikeouts in the fifth inning against Kentucky Wesleyan. The RHP has accumulated 212 strikeouts in 187 innings pitched with the Storm. His efforts have earned him multiple conference awards throughout his collegiate career. Lemasters currently averages 14.37 strikeouts per nine innings pitched through his senior season, and has an ERA of 3.48. The Cortland native is a four-year member, and three-year letter-winner at Lakeview High School, where he holds the all-time strikeout record (253), as well.
Lemasters got five innings of work in against Kentucky Wesleyan, allowing six runs, five of which were earned on seven hits and three walks. Although Lemaster's work for the day is finished, the game is actually not. The 7-7 tie in the top of the ninth inning was postposed due to darkness, and will resume Monday (Mar. 17) at 11am.
Following the conclusion of the second game of the series, the two teams will square up for another double-header before the Storm heads home to prepare for their home opener on Mar. 22.