May 1, 2013
MIDLAND, Mich. - The Grand Valley State baseball team picked up a pair of thrilling victories on Wednesday (May 1) at Northwood, both in come-from-behind fashion. The Lakers won the opener 3-2 before winning the nightcap 4-3, both with late inning rallies. Junior Dan Saier picked up the victory in both games, while senior Brad Zambron tallied a save in both games.
The sweep moves the Lakers to 26-13 overall with a 20-6 record in the GLIAC. Northwood falls to 16-23 overall with an 11-16 record in the league.
Early on, it appeared that the Lakers might be in for a long day, as Northwood led off the bottom of the first with a double and a single to put runners on the corners only eight pitches in to the game. GVSU almost got out of it, getting a foul out and strikeout, but Northwood delivered a two-out RBI single to bring in the first run of the game.
After both teams went down in order on seven pitches each in the second, the Lakers got on the board in the top of the third. Sophomore Jesse Abel walked, then moved to second on a sacrifice bunt. Junior Stuart Eisler singled to put runners on the corners with one out, and sophomore Mike Nadratowski continued the momentum, hitting a single to the opposite field in left to tie the game at one.
The Timberwolves took the lead back in the bottom of the fourth on two singles and an error to go up 2-1.
In the top of the sixth, with the Lakers still trailing, junior Giancarlo Brugnoni, after fouling off four pitches, lifted his 11th home run of the season (30th of his career) over the left field fence to tie the game back up at 2-2.
GVSU was finally able to break through and take the lead in the top of the seventh. Nadratowski led off with a single and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt. Sophomore Kevin Zak then came up with the clutch base-knock, smacking a ball in to right field to score Nadratowski and put the Lakers up 3-2.
At that point, it was time for Zambron to come in and he did what he has done all his career, nailing down the save with a perfect seventh inning of relief.
Nadratowski finished the game 3-for-4 with a run and an RBI, while Eisler went 2-for-3. Zak and Brugnoni each went 1-for-3 with an RBI, with Brugnoni also scoring once.
Junior starter Chris Ward pitched the first four innings, allowing six hits and one earned run with three strikeouts. The victory, however, went to Saier (2-0), who threw two innings of relief, not allowing a hit and striking out two. Zambron's save, with one strikeout, was the ninth save of the season for himself and the 35th of his career.
Northwood began the nightcap the same way they started the opener, putting the Lakers down early. The Timberwolves, already with two outs on the board, hit four straight singles on five pitches to take a 2-0 lead after the first inning before the Lakers were able to close out the frame.
GVSU battled back with a single tally in the top of the second, as Brugnoni led off the inning by reaching on an error, stole second and moved to third on a groundout. Sophomore Jesse Abel then lifted a sacrifice fly to right field to score Brugnoni, cutting the Northwood lead in half at 2-1.
Northwood put a single tally on the board in the bottom of the fourth to go up 3-1, but the Lakers responded in a big way in the top of the sixth, just as they did in the opener.
Eisler led off with a single and moved to second on a walk by Nadratowski. Senior Stephen Claypool then laid down a sacrifice bunt to move both runners in to scoring position, but the pitcher threw the ball away, allowing Claypool to move to second, Nadratowski to go to third and Eisler to cross the plate and make it 3-2.
After a sacrifice fly from Zak moved both runners up to tie the game at three, senior Chris Rudenga came up with a big hit, doubling in to the left field gap to score Claypool and put the Lakers on top, 4-3.
Saier had come in during the bottom of the fourth and shut down the Timberwolves, putting him in line for his second victory of the day. That opportunity was in good hands as Zambron came in to begin the bottom of the sixth and picked up his second save of the day to preserve the comeback victory.
Zak, Rudenga and Abel each drove in one run a piece, while Nadratowski, Claypool, Brugnoni and Eisler were the four Lakers to cross the plate.
Saier (3-0) picked up his second victory of the day with 1.2 shutout innings of relief without allowing a hit. Zambron earned his 10th save of the season with two innings of shutout relief to go with two strikeouts.
The Lakers will now prepare for their biggest series of the season, a three-game set in Detroit against Wayne State this weekend. The Warriors and Lakers are the top two teams in the conference and the series will most likely determine the regular season champion and top seed in the GLIAC Tournament. The doubleheader on Saturday (May 4) is scheduled for a 1 p.m. start.