March 24, 2012
Allendale, Mich. - The 10th-ranked Grand Valley State baseball team hosted Lake Erie for their home opener on Saturday (Mar. 24) and despite two strong pitching performances, the Lakers came away with only one victory. GVSU lost game one in a 1-0 pitcher's duel but claimed game two 11-1.
In game one, senior Kyle Schepel was in search of a historic win to move him in to the top spot at GVSU in career victories.
In the top of the fourth inning with the game scoreless, Lake Erie put the lead-off man on with a walk and moved him to second on a sacrifice bunt. After a hit by pitch, a pop-up put two outs up on the board. Rizzo then singled to right field and Kemp tried to score the game's first run, but junior Chris Rudenga fired a strike in to home plate from right field to keep the Storm off the board.
The same stellar defense hit the Lakers in the sixth as GVSU looked to finally break through. After a one-out single by freshman Mike Nadratowski, Rudenga singled in to right field but Nadratowski was thrown out at third base on another strong throw from the outfield. Rudenga then stole second base on the next at-bat but the Lakers were unable to bring him all the way around.
Finally, in the seventh, the Storm were able to scratch across the only run of the contest. A pinch-hit single led off the inning and a sacrifice bunt moved him to second. A grounder back to the pitcher became out number two and it looked as if GVSU would escape unharmed, but a single in to center field just over the pitcher's glove brought home the run from second to make it a 1-0 game.
The Lakers had a chance in the bottom of the last inning, getting a one-out single from sophomore Giancarlo Brugnoni and a two-out single from senior Jared Cowan. After a wild pitch advanced both runners in to scoring position, a groundball to the shortstop ended the game at 1-0 and the Lakers' seven-game home-opener winning streak dating back to 2005.
Schepel threw six strong innings, yielding only four hits and one run, while striking out six, but took the loss, his first in over two calendar years (Mar. 10, 2010). Schepel had been on the winning end of 20 straight decisions before taking the loss on this day to fall to 4-1 on the year.
Lake Erie's Adam Beach earned the victory, throwing a complete game five-hitter with five strikeouts.
Nadratowski and Brugnoni each went 1-for-2 with a walk in the game. Freshman Jamie Potts was 1-for-2 with his second double of the year while Cowan and Rudenga delivered the other Laker hits.
Brayan Cacique went 2-for-4 with an RBI to lead the Storm.
It was a much better story for the Lakers in game two, as GVSU used a bevy of runs in the middle innings to get back on the winning side.
In the bottom of the fourth, junior Stephen Claypool got the scoring started with his first home run of the year, a fly ball that snuck just inside the right field foul pole to lead off the inning and make it 1-0. Senior Steve Anderson followed with a single to center field and Brugnoni pulled a single of his own to left field. After a sacrifice bunt moved both runners over, Cowan lifted a fly ball to center field to score Anderson, making it a 2-0 Laker lead.
In the fifth, Rudenga's one-out RBI single brought senior Zach Laupp in and a bases loaded RBI single by Brugnoni made it 4-0. Senior Derrik Strzalkowski then hammered a ball to the wall in the right field gap that bounced off the fielder's glove on the run to bring two more in, pushing the lead out to 6-0.
The Storm were able to push across a single tally in the top of the sixth, but the Lakers responded with a five-run frame in the bottom half of the inning off only one hit. The Lake Erie second baseman committed two errors and the pitching staff surrendered four walks to make it an 11-1 game, the only hit of the inning coming off the bat of freshman Kevin Zak on an RBI single to left field.
Senior Ryan Garman (2-2) earned the victory on the mound, tossing six innings and allowing only three hits and one run while striking out four. Lake Erie's Logan Nordquist took the loss, allowing six hits and two runs in four innings of work.
Anderson finished the game 3-for-3 with two runs scored, an RBI and a walk. Claypool and Brugnoni each went 2-for-3 with two RBI and a walk including Claypool's first home run as a Laker. Claypool also came across the plate three times, a season-high for him. Strzalkowski had two RBI on the day and hit his fifth double of the season. Zak was the other Laker with multiple hits, going 2-for-4 with a run scored and an RBI.
The split moves the Lakers to 11-5 (1-1 GLIAC) on the year while Lake Erie moves to 4-9 (1-1 GLIAC). Since 1985, the Lakers are now 43-6 on the days of their home opener and 24-4 in the first home game of the season.
The same two teams will do battle again on Sunday (Mar. 25) in a doubleheader slated to begin at noon at the Laker Baseball Field in Allendale, Mich.