March 9, 2013
AUBURNDALE, Fla. - The 15th-ranked Grand Valley State baseball team put on a show in the first game of a doubleheader against Charleston (W.Va.), winning 18-1, before falling in the nightcap 6-5.
The story of the day, however, was junior Giancarlo Brugnoni, who put on his first big power display of the year. Brugnoni finished the doubleheader 5-for-7 with four runs, nine RBI and three home runs.
In game one, it was all Lakers from the start. After two quick outs in the bottom of the first, GVSU put up a furious two-out rally. Sophomore Kevin Zak and Brugnoni each singled, then sophomore Jamie Potts brought Zak home on a ground ball through the left side of the infield to make it 1-0. Junior Stuart Eisler's triple in to the right field gap brought two more in, and an RBI single from senior Stephen Claypool made it 4-0. After a hit by pitch and a walk, sophomore Mike Nadratowski singled back up the middle to bring two more in, and the Lakers had an early 6-0 lead after their first set of at-bats.
It was more of the same in the bottom of the third inning, as junior Ariel Aracena-Sanchez led off the inning with a single, senior Chris Rudenga had a one-out single, and Zak singled back up the middle to make it a 7-0 game and put runners on first and second. Brugnoni then got a hold of his first ball of the day, hitting the scoreboard in left field with a bomb that made it 10-0.
The Lakers kept pouring it on in the bottom of the fourth, again with two outs after the first two hitters of the inning were retired. After the next three batters reached, Brugnoni came to the plate and launched another home run, this time for a grand slam to make it 14-0. GVSU would add another later in the inning on two consecutive doubles by freshman Alex Trautmann and Eisler to make it a 15-0 game.
GVSU would put three more runs up in the bottom of the sixth, again with two outs. Nadratowski had a two-RBI single and junior Chris Ripple also had an RBI single to make it 18-0.
The Lakers would close out the game with an 18-1 victory, mashing out 21 hits in the process.
The benefactor on the mound of all those runs was junior Cody Westerhuis, who went six strong innings, allowing only two hits and one run, while striking out seven. Junior Dan Saier contributed one inning of scoreless relief.
Brugnoni dominated the offensive landscape, finishing the game 3-for-4 with three runs, two home runs, and tied the GVSU single-game record with seven RBI (Pete Pierman vs Wayne State, 2000). Zak also had a big game, going 3-for-4 with three runs and an RBI, while Potts was 3-for-3 with one run, an RBI and a stolen base. Eisler went 2-for-4 with one run, three RBI and a walk. Nadratowski was 2-for-5 with one run and four RBI.
GVSU appeared to be off to another big game in the nightcap, putting up two runs in the top of the first inning. Nadratowski walked to lead off, and Rudenga moved him to third with a single. Zak then lifted a sacrifice fly to right field to score one. After Brugnoni doubled off the fence in the right field gap to put runners on second and third, Eisler brought in another run with a ground ball in the infield. The fielder attempted to get Rudenga at home, but Rudenga escaped the tag and was in safely to make it 2-0 GVSU.
The score held until the bottom of the fifth, when Charleston got a lead-off double, hit by pitch and an RBI single to get on the board at 2-1.
The Lakers extended the lead in the top of the sixth, getting a single from Zak to begin the inning and then Brugnoni smashed another long ball, this one of the two-run variety, to make it a 4-1 game.
Charleston again battled back, plating two in the bottom of the sixth after two walks to lead off the inning, a sacrifice, and a sacrifice fly to deep center field that scored two. The ball was hit to the deepest part of the field and Nadratowski made a great catch, sliding in to the bottom of the fence with his back to the plate. By the time he was able to recover and get the ball in to the infield, the runners from both second and third had tagged and scored for the rarely-seen two-RBI sacrifice fly to make it a 4-3 game.
In the top of the seventh, junior Taylor Banks led off with a high pop-up in the infield that eventually went for a hit as the ball went foul, got caught in the wind, and carried back in to fair territory, landing safely behind the third base bag. After a sacrifice bunt, Nadratowski hit a ball back up the middle of the field just by the outstretched glove of the second basemen, plating Banks to make it a 5-3 ball game.
In the bottom of the seventh, Charleston rallied in a big way. After a single to right field to begin the inning, senior Brad Zambron came in to attempt to nail down the save. The next hitter doubled to put runners on second and third, and another single plated one to make it a 5-4 game with runners on second and third still, as the hitter moved to second when the throw came in to home. After an intentional walk loaded the bases with nobody out, Zambron began making his way through the lineup, striking out two consecutive hitters swinging. Then, after Zambron had gotten Itnyre down to 0-2 count, a pitch that appeared to hit the same spot as the strike two pitch was called a ball. After two foul balls, the Charleston hitter fought off an inside fastball that landed just a couple feet fair down t he right field line to bring in two runs, giving Charleston the walk-off 6-5 victory.
Zambron unfortunately took the loss, throwing 0.2 innings, allowing three hits and two runs with two strikeouts. The starter, freshman Russell Griffin, turned in a stellar first start for his collegiate career, working five innings, allowing only three hits with one run and two strikeouts.
The offense was again led by Brugnoni, who went 2-for-3 with a run and two RBI, including his fourth double and fourth home run of the year. Nadratowski and Zak each went 1-for-3 with a run and an RBI, with Nadratowski also stealing his fourth base of the season.
The split moves the Lakers to 4-3 on the season, while Charleston is now 3-4 on the year.
GVSU will continue its spring trip with a crucial in-region nine-inning game against Missouri-St. Louis on Sunday (Mar. 10) at Chain of Lakes Field #1 at 11 a.m.