April 28, 2013
ALLENDALE, Mich. - It was a memorable Senior Day for the six Grand Valley State baseball players at the Laker Baseball Field on Sunday (Apr. 28), as the final home game of their career turned in to a rout of 16th-ranked Ashland, 18-1. The Eagles entered the weekend as the top team in the NCAA Division II Midwest Regional Rankings, but GVSU took two of three games against them to cap off the 2013 home schedule.
The victory moves the Lakers to 24-13 overall with an 18-6 mark in the GLIAC. Ashland falls to 28-15 overall with a 16-11 record in the conference. With Wayne State's loss earlier in the day, GVSU moves back in to the lead in the GLIAC with only five conference games to play.
Early on, it looked like there might be a fantastic pitcher's duel, as each team had only one hit through three innings of play.
In the top of the fourth, Ashland threatened, getting consecutive two-out singles, but senior Anthony Campanella thwarted the effort by inducing a groundout.
From there, it was all Lakers.
GVSU put together the most impressive inning of the season so far, tallying nine runs on eight hits with help from two Eagle errors.
After sophomore Kevin Zak singled to lead off the frame, senior Chris Rudenga singled to center field and the outfielder threw to third, attempting to retire Zak. The throw, however, went over the fielder's head and near the Laker dugout, scoring Zak and putting Rudenga on third. After a single from sophomore Jamie Potts put runners on the corners, sophomore Jesse Abel attempted a squeeze play by laying down a bunt, and Ashland elected to go home with the play, but Rudenga slid under the tag to make it a 2-0 game.
The next batter, junior Giancarlo Brugnoni, effectively put the game out of reach. Brugnoni swung at a 2-0 pitch and drove the ball deep over the fence in left-center field for a three-run shot to make it 5-0. It was Brugnoni's 10th home run of the season and the 29th of his career, moving him in to sole possession of second place on the GVSU career home run list, only three behind Dustin Vugteveen, the current leader.
The scoring wasn't done there, as the Lakers went back-to-back with junior Taylor Banks taking the second pitch he saw from the new pitcher over the left field fence for his third longball of the season to put GVSU up 6-0.
An RBI double by Zak, a sacrifice fly by Rudenga and an RBI single by Potts extended the lead to 9-0 before Ashland was finally able to stop the bleeding.
Unfortunately for the Eagles, they were about to have a case of deja vu in the bottom of the fifth. Another six hits led to nine more Laker runs, the highlight of the inning being a three-run home run from Rudenga, his first career home run at the Laker Baseball Field, and it happened in his last game at the field.
When all was said and done, the Lakers had pushed across 18 runs in two innings with 14 hits, sending 13 batters to the plate in each inning.
Meanwhile, Campanella continued rolling through the Eagles' lineup, allowing only three hits through the first six innings. In the seventh, Ashland finally broke through, but it was only for a single tally in the top of the seventh after two singles led to one run on a wild pitch.
All five seniors who were available to play in their final home game were able to do so, led by Campanella's performance on the mound. Campanella moved to 6-3 on the year with the victory, working seven innings, allowing five hits and one run with five strikeouts. Seniors Kyle Zegarac and Brad Zambron each threw a scoreless inning of relief.
The two seniors on offense, Rudenga and senior Stephen Claypool, each did their part on offense. Rudenga went 2-for-4 with two runs, four RBI and his first home run of the season. Claypool went 1-for-5 with a run and an RBI.
All told, six Lakers had multi-hit games and four Lakers drove in multiple runs. Zak went 3-for-5 with three runs and two RBI, while Potts was 3-for-4 with a run scored and an RBI. Brugnoni and Banks each went 2-for-3 with three runs scored and a walk, while Brugnoni drove in three and Banks drove in two, as both deposited a ball over the fence during the game.
GVSU will now prepare for a doubleheader against Northwood this Wednesday (May 1). The twinbill is expected to begin at 2 p.m. in Midland, Mich.