March 5, 2013
AUBURNDALE, Fla. - The 15th-ranked Grand Valley State baseball team got off to a stellar start on the 2013 campaign, sweeping Notre Dame (Ohio) to begin the season, 8-1 and 5-2.
In the opening game of the season, the year got off to a bang for junior Giancarlo Brugnoni. After sophomore Kevin Zak hit a two-out single through the left side, Brugnoni came up and picked up where he left off last season, smacking a two-run homer over the left field wall to give the Lakers a 2-0 lead after one.
Brugnoni again sparked the offense in the top of the fourth, singling through the left side to lead off the inning. After junior Taylor Banks moved Brugnoni to third with a single of his own, junior Stuart Eisler lifted a sacrifice fly to center to score Brugnoni and make it a 3-0 game.
The Falcons threatened in a big way in the bottom of the fourth. After a double play two batters in, a single and two straight walks loaded the bases for Notre Dame. Junior Chris Ward, after getting down 3-0 in the count to the next hitter, battled back with three straight strikes to turn the Falcons away and hold the 3-0 lead.
That big pitching performance turned in to a big offensive inning for the Lakers in the top of the fifth. Senior Stephen Claypool reached on a walk and junior Chris Ripple laid down a sacrifice bunt and the throw pulled th e first baseman off the bag, putting two runners on with nobody out. Sophomore Mike Nadratowski then laid down a bunt of his own and beat the throw while the ball rolled away from first base on an errant throw, allowing Claypool and Ripple to both score and Nadratowski to go to second. Senior Chris Rudenga then doubled in to the left field gap to score Nadratowski, making it a 6-0 game. After another Zak single put runners on the corners, Brugnoni again came up with a big hit, singling up the middle to score Rudenga. Eisler capped off the five-run inning with a single back up the middle two hitters later to make it 8-0.
Notre Dame was able to scratch across a run in the bottom of the seventh, but GVSU comfortably took the 8-1 victory to start the season.
Ward earned the victory in his Laker debut, working four innings, allowing only three hits, no runs and with four strikeouts. Freshman Patrick Kelly contributed a perfect inning of relief, while freshman Russell Griffin finished the game with two innings in relief.
Brugnoni led the offense by going 3-for-4 with two runs, three RBI and his first home run of the season. Zak finished 2-for-4 with two runs scored, while Eisler went 1-for-2 with two RBI and a walk. Claypool, Nadratowski and Rudenga all had one hit and one run.
In the nightcap, Notre Dame led off the game with a run in the first off a walk, stolen base and pair of wild pitches.
The Lakers again responded though in the bottom half of the first, beginning with a Nadratowski single and a stolen base to put him in scoring position with one out. Nadratowski then stole third with two outs, while Brugnoni walked. Eisler then brought Nadratowski in with a single in to left field to tie the game at one. GVSU took the lead when Rudenga singled to right to bring in Brugnoni from second and make it a 2-1 game.
The Falcons battled back again, however, tying the game in the top of the second with an RBI groundout to make it a 2-2 game.
In the bottom of the third, sophomore Jamie Potts led off the inning with a double down the left field line and Zak moved him to third with a groundout. Brugnoni, yet again, came through with the clutch hit, knocking Potts in with a hard-hit ball deep in the hole at short to make it a 3-2 game. Rudenga brought in Brugnoni a couple batters later with a long sacrifice fly to right field, making it 4-2.
GVSU capped off the scoring in the bottom of the fourth with a Potts RBI double down the right field line that scored junior Eric Hess, who led off the inning with a fly ball to left field that dropped in just behind the fielder.
Leading 5-2 in the seventh, the Lakers brought in senior pitcher Brad Zambron, who sat just one save away from tying both the GVSU and GLIAC career saves record. Zambron breezed through the seventh with a strikeout, clinching his first save of the season and 27th of his career to put himself in a tie for the top spot in both the GVSU and GLIAC record books.
Junior Sean Clancy, another pitcher making his Laker debut, got the victory in the nightcap, working six innings with five strikeouts.
Potts went 2-for-3 with two doubles, a run and RBI in the game, while Rudenga went 1-for-2 with two RBI. Brugnoni and Eisler both had one hit and one RBI, with Brugnoni also crossing the plate twice.
GVSU will have a quick turnaround, as the Lakers will take on 2011 NCAA Division II National Runner-Up Winona State in a doubleheader slated for 12 p.m. at Chain of Lakes Stadium in Winter Haven, Fla. Live updates will be available via the 2013 Spring Trip Live Chat.