April 15, 2012
Allendale, Mich. - The 20th-ranked Grand Valley State baseball team extended its winning streak to 11 straight on Sunday (Apr. 15), sweeping Tiffin 11-4 and 12-6. Senior Derrik Strzalkowski (London, Ont./Kellogg C.C.) hit a grand slam and sophomore Giancarlo Brugnoni (Grosse Pointe, Mich./De La Salle) hit his fifth home run in four games.
In game one, the Dragons took a 1-0 lead with an RBI single in the top of the second, but that was short-lived as the Lakers pushed six across in the bottom of the third.
After two quick outs in the frame, senior Brian Robinson (Troy, Mich.) doubled to left field, his first of two doubles in the game, and then came around to score when redshirt freshman Kevin Zak (Novi, Mich.) hit a bomb to right field to give the Lakers a 2-1 lead.
After two walks sandwiched around a single by senior Jared Cowan (Davison, Mich.), Strzalkowski came to the plate and hit a line drive up in to the wind that carried out for a grand slam to give GVSU a comfortable lead at 6-1.
Tiffin was able to cut the lead to 7-4 after pushing three runs across in the top of the fifth, but GVSU again responded, putting the game out of reach in the bottom of the sixth. With runners on second and third, Zak lifted a sacrifice fly to center field to make it 8-4, then senior Steve Anderson (Northville, Mich.) brought in two more with a home run to right field to make it a 10-4 advantage.
GVSU would add one more in the frame following a Cowan double, balk and a wild pitch that allowed him to score, making it 11-4.
Junior Brad Zambron (Waterford, Mich./Brother Rice), who came in working with a 7-4 lead, threw the final 2.1 innings, allowing only one hit to earn his ninth save of the year. Senior Cory Baker (Byron Center, Mich./North Dakota) got the victory to move to 5-1 on the season, working 4.2 innings, allowing eight hits and one earned run with three strikeouts.
Cowan led the team with three hits, going 3-for-4 with two runs scored. Strzalkowski's grand slam was his lone hit of the game as he finished 1-for-4 with one run and four RBI. Zak finished 1-for-3 with one run, three RBI and his second home run of the season. Anderson and Robinson each went 2-for-3 with two runs, while Anderson brought in two runs in with his fifth long ball of the year.
In game two, the Lakers got on top early, much like yesterday's contest, staking themselves a 5-0 lead in the first inning. Three straight singles to begin the frame brought in one run, while another came in on a wild pitch. Cowan then came to the plate and hit his second of three doubles on the day, this one bringing in two runs to make it 4-0. Cowan would eventually cross the plate on a ground out by junior Chris Rudenga (South Holland, Ill./Illiana Christian) to make it 5-0.
The Dragons pushed across one run in the top of the second on an error, but the Lakers got the run back when Brugnoni, who hit four home runs in the doubleheader on Saturday, went deep for the fifth time in four games, hitting a bomb just past the scoreboard in left field to make it a 6-1 game.
Tiffin nearly erased the entire deficit in the top of the fifth, bringing in four runs behind three singles and a throwing error with the bases loaded that allowed all three runners to score, cutting the lead to 6-5.
Brugnoni hit a two-out double in to the right field gap in the bottom of the fifth, then was pinch-ran for by senior Blake Batteast (South Bend, Ind./Glen Oaks C.C.), who went to third on a wild pitch and scored on an error to push the lead to 7-5.
GVSU put the game away for good in the bottom of the sixth with its second five-run inning of the game. Six hits in the frame, highlighted by a two-RBI single from Rudenga, broke the game open to give the Lakers a 12-5 lead.
Zambron again came in to close the game down, but unfortunately allowed his first earned run of the season in over 20 innings of work. GVSU would ultimately win by a 12-6 score as Zambron was able to coax two ground balls, one going for a double play.
Senior Jacob Cox (Dowagiac, Mich./Lake Michigan College) worked an inning of scoreless relief with one strikeout, while junior Anthony Campanella (Carol Stream, Ill./Elgin C.C.) moved to 5-1 on the year with five innings of work. Campanella allowed eight hits and two earned runs with four strikeouts.
Cowan led the offense, going 2-for-4 with two runs and three RBI, including two doubles to give him a team-leading 12 on the season. Freshman Mike Nadratowski (Canton, Mich./Plymouth) and Brugnoni each went 2-for-3 with a run scored, Brugnoni also bringing in a run with his 11th homer of the season. Robinson went 3-for-4, scoring twice, while Zak finished 2-for-3 with two runs and an RBI. Rudenga matched a career-high with three RBI in the game.
The sweep extends the Lakers' winning streak to 11 straight games, giving GVSU a record of 26-10 on the year with a 16-6 mark in the GLIAC. Tiffin falls to 11-22 with a 6-14 record in the conference.
The Lakers will get a well-deserved week off before traveling to Findlay, Ohio to take on the Oiilers for a pair of doubleheaders on Saturday (Apr. 21) and Sunday (Apr. 22). Saturday's games are slated for a 1 p.m. start, with Sunday's getting under way at noon.