March 6, 2013
WINTER HAVEN, Fla. - The 15th-ranked Grand Valley State baseball team split a doubleheader with Winona State on Wednesday (Feb. 6) afternoon, taking game one 5-4 before falling 6-4 in game two. In game one, senior Brad Zambron came on for a five-out save and in doing so, took over sole possession of the GVSU and GLIAC career saves record.
The Lakers are now 3-1 on the young season, while Winona State is 4-4.
The opening game of the doubleheader inside Chain of Lakes Park was a scoreless stalwart until the fourth, when both offenses exploded.
In the top of the inning, junior Giancarlo Brugnoni led off with a one-hop double to the wall in the left field gap, then was followed with a walk by junior Taylor Banks. After a sacrifice bunt moved both runners in to scoring position, senior Chris Rudenga hit a grounder to short that allowed Brugnoni to score, but Banks was thrown out at third.
With only Rudenga on base, he stole second and then senior Stephen Claypool and junior Chris Ripple both walked to load the bases up with two outs. Sophomore Mike Nadratowski then hit a ground ball through the right side, allowing Rudenga and Claypool to score easily. An errant throw home by the right fielder then allowed Ripple to score all the way from first, making it a 4-0 lead for GVSU.
Winona State responded in a big way in the bottom of the fourth, beginning with a lead-off single and a wild pitch to move in to scoring position. After a fly out advanced the runner to third, an error by the Laker defense allowed the run to score and the hitter to reach first with still only one out. That was followed by a towering home run in to right field that cut the lead to 4-3.
The Lakers put up a big insurance run in t he sixth, as Rudenga led off with a single, advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt and then moved to third on a balk. Ripple came up and ripped a one-hop double off the wall in the right field gap to score Rudenga and make it a 5-3 game.
The Warriors again answered, getting a one-out walk and then a double in to the right field gap to score him, making it 5-4. After another walk put two men on with one out, Winona State singled to load the bases.
With the bases loaded, the biggest play of the game came with Zambron on the mound. Zambron induced a ground ball to Brugnoni at first, who stepped on the bag and threw home to get the runner coming from third. Banks put the tag down and the Lakers ran off the field hanging on to the 5-4 lead.
Winona State got a lead-off walk in the bottom of the seventh, but two strikeouts by Zambron and a fly ball out would preserve the victory, giving Zambron his second save of the season and 28th of his career, marking him as the sole GVSU and GLIAC career saves leader. Zambron now sits only four saves away from tying the NCAA Division II career saves mark.
Nadratowski led the offense with a 2-for-4 game with two RBI. Sophomore Kevin Zak went 2-for-4 with two stolen bases. Ripple finished 1-for-2 with a run, RBI and walk, while Rudenga was 1-for-2 with two runs, an RBI and a walk. Brugnoni continued his hot hitting by going 1-for-3 with a run, double and a walk.
Senior Kyle Teague got the victory in his Laker debut, working 5.1 innings, allowing five hits and four earned runs with three strikeouts. Zambron nailed down the record-breaking save with 1.2 innings of scoreless relief and two strikeouts.
The GVSU save record was previously held by Joe Finnerty (2001-2005), while the GLIAC record was shared by Finnerty and Findlay's Josh Barney (2004-2008).
The nightcap did not start off nearly as well for the Lakers, as Winona State put up a single run in the top of the first on an RBI groundout, then put up a three-spot in the top of the second courtesy of two hit batters, an error that scored two and an RBI single.
Entering the bottom of the second down 4-0, Brugnoni led off the inning with a double to right field that bounced off the track and over the wall, then moved to third on a long flyout. Rudenga came to the plate and skipped a ball between the shortstop's legs to score Brugnoni and cut the lead to 4-1.
Winona State extended the lead even further in their next at-bats, however. Two Laker errors in the top of the third and a bases loaded wild pitch allowed the Warriors to push across two more runs, extending the lead to 6-1.
GVSU started chipping away in the bottom of the sixth, with freshman Alex Trautmann reaching second after his fly ball in to center field was dropped. He came in to score when Brugnoni tripled in to the right field gap and Brugnoni himself came in to score when junior Stuart Eisler lifted a sacrifice fly to center field, making it a 6-3 game.
After a quick top of the seventh, the Lakers faced their final at-bats in the bottom of the inning. After one quick out, pinch hitter Matthew Schuch doubled in to the right field gap, then sophomore Mitchell Kozlowski did the same, trading places with Schuch to make it a 6-4 game with one out. After Nadratowski singled to put runners at the corners, a groundout to third moved Nadratowski to second, putting the tying run in scoring position with Zak at the plate. Zak, however, popped up near first base to end the threat and Winona State clung to the 6-4 victory.
Senior Anthony Campanella took the loss on the mound, working five innings, allowing six hits, three earned runs and striking out four. Junior Cody Westerhuis and freshman Skylar Hoke combined for two innings of scoreless relief with four strikeouts.
Brugnoni again led the offense, going 2-for-3 with two runs, one RBI, a double and a triple. Kozlowski went 2-for-3 with an RBI, while Eisler and Rudenga each drove in a run as well.
The Lakers, now 3-1 on the season, will play a single nine-inning game on Thursday (Feb. 7), when they take on Wayne State (Neb.) at 11:15 a.m. at Lake Myrtle Stadium in Auburndale, Fla.