April 3, 2013
ALLENDALE, Mich. - The Grand Valley State baseball team dropped a pair of games to visiting Tiffin to open up the home schedule on Wednesday (Apr. 3), falling 3-2 in game one before finding themselves on the wrong end of a 8-3 decision in the nightcap.
GVSU falls to 13-10 on the season with a 7-3 record in the GLIAC, while Tiffin moves to 13-13 overall and 7-4 in the conference.
In the opening game, the Dragons showed quickly that they were much improved, putting a run up in the top of the first on an RBI groundout, the scoring runner having reached on an error to lead off the game.
GVSU was able to respond in the bottom of the first, which has routinely been the best inning of the year for the Lakers. Sophomore Mike Nadratowski was hit by a pitch and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt. After a wild pitch moved him to third, sophomore Kevin Zak delivered his first of four RBI in the game, lifting a sacrifice fly to left field to tie the game at one.
Tiffin put up two more runs in the top of the third as defense plagued the Lakers. After a lead-off single, an error resulted in two on with nobody out. A sacrifice bunt moved both runners in to scoring position and a walk loaded the bases with one out. The next two hitters put the ball on the ground but some decisions in trying to retire preceeding runners by the defense resulted in late throws and everyone being safe, bringing two more runs in to make it a 3-1 lead.
The Lakers again responded, using an error on the Dragons to their advantage. Junior Stuart Eisler reached on an error and moved to third on a Nadratowski single to left center. After a ground out moved Nadratowski in to scoring position, Zak again came up big, grounding a ball through the left side of the infield to cut the lead to 3-2. GVSU had a chance to pile on more runs, but a 1-2-3 double play ended the threat in the inning.
From there, it was a struggle for both offenses to get rolling. The Lakers got only one runner past first base for the rest of the game as Tiffin closed the opener out with a 3-2 victory.
Senior Anthony Campanella (3-2) took the hard-luck loss on the mound, despite throwing a complete game and allowing only one earned run.
The offense was led by Zak, who went 1-for-2 with two RBI and his seventh stolen base of the season, while Nadratowski went 2-for-3 with a run scored.
In the nightcap, the Lakers were the ones to strike first, again in the first inning. Nadratowski led off the bottom of the first with a walk, then stole second and moved to third on an errant throw from the catcher. Yet again, it was Zak with the big hit, as he hit a double over the outfielder's head in straight away left field up against the fence to put GVSU up 1-0.
This time it was Tiffin fighting back, as the Dragons scratched across the tying run in the next half-inning on an RBI single in to right field with a man on second.
A Nadratowski walk to lead off the bottom of the third started yet another rally, as a single by senior Stephen Claypool put runners on the corners with nobody out. Zak again singled through the left side of the infield to put the Lakers out front 2-1. After a flyout from junior Giancarlo Brugnoni moved Claypool to third, senior Chris Rudenga laid down a bunt single that allowed Claypool to score as the Lakers pushed the lead out to 3-1.
The dagger, however, came when Tiffin answered in a big way in the top of the fifth. Two straight singles and a misplayed bunt loaded the bases with nobody out and the Dragons tied the game up with a single back up the middle. After a pitching change, another single put Tiffin in front, 4-3. The Dragons would add two more on a fielder's choice and a sacrifice fly, flipping the table on the Lakers and taking a 6-3 lead after five.
Tiffin added two more in the top of the seventh on a two-RBI single to take an 8-3 lead and it was up to GVSU in the bottom of the seventh to salvage the day. Claypool led off with a walk and Brugnoni drew a one-out walk to put two on. After Rudenga singled to load the bases with one out, however, two consecutive strikeouts ended the game as Tiffin completed the doubleheader sweep by an 8-3 score.
Junior Sean Clancy (2-4) took the loss on the mound, pitching four innings, surrendering eight hits and five runs with two strikeouts.
The offense was again led by Zak, who went 2-for-4 with two RBI and a double. Rudenga finished the game 3-for-3 with an RBI and a walk. Claypool went 2-for-3 with a run scored and an RBI, while Nadratowski scored twice and walked twice in addition to stealing his eighth base of the year.
The Lakers and Dragons will finish the three-game series on Thursday (Apr. 4) at 1 p.m. at the Laker Baseball Field.