May 6, 2012
Columbus, Ohio - The 10th-ranked Grand Valley State baseball team already had the top seed clinched in the coming GLIAC Tournament, but had a couple close games on the final day of the regular season at Ohio Dominican. The Lakers won game one 4-3, but fell in the nightcap, 5-4, in extra innings.
In game one, junior Stephen Claypool (Carleton, Mich./Ball State) got the scoring started with his second home run in as many days. In the top of the second inning, junior Chris Rudenga (South Holland, Ill./Illiana Christian) hit a single down the right field line and moved to second on a wild pitch before Claypool took a ball over the fence in the right field for a 2-0 lead.
The Panthers earned one of those runs back in the bottom of the second with a hit by pitch and an RBI double, then evened the game up in the bottom of the fourth with a sacrifice fly. Ohio Dominican had the bases loaded with one out but GVSU was able to get out of the inning with the game tied at two.
The two teams exchanged runs again in the sixth inning. The Lakers pushed a run across with a fielder's choice by freshman Jamie Potts (Muskegon, Mich./Oakridge) in the top of the inning, scoring senior Steve Anderson (Northville, Mich.). Again the Panthers answered with a two-out single, stolen base and an RBI double to tie the game back up at three.
In the top of the seventh, senior Derrik Strzalkowski (London, Ont./Kellogg C.C.) walked on four pitches and senior Blake Batteast (South Bend, Ind./Glen Oaks C.C.) pinch-ran for him. Batteast moved to second on a sacrifice bunt and runners were put on the corners when redshirt freshman Kevin Zak (Novi, Mich.) had an infield single with two outs. Anderson came up big, sending an RBI single in to center field to score Batteast and give the Lakers a 4-3 lead.
As he's been doing all season, junior Brad Zambron (Waterford, Mich./Brother Rice) came in for the seventh and shut things down to earn his 14th save of the season, extending his single-season GVSU record.
Senior Cory Rademacher (DeWitt, Mich.) earned the victory with one inning in relief to move to 2-0 on the year. The Lakers used four pitchers in the game and it was the first time this season that GVSU failed to strike out any batters in the game.
Anderson finished the game 2-for-3 with a run scored and an RBI, while Zak went 2-for-4. Claypool went 1-for-3 with a run scored and two RBI, all off his two-run homer, his fourth longball of the year.
In game two, GVSU got on top early with two runs in the top of the first off an RBI single from senior Jared Cowan (Davison, Mich.) and a wild pitch. The Lakers moved their lead to 3-0 in the top of the third with yet another Cowan RBI single.
Ohio Dominican erased the lead and took the lead themselves in the bottom of the third, scoring four times on three hits to take a 4-3 lead.
The Lakers used a Panther error in the top of the fifth to draw even. After a lead-off walk from freshman Mitchell Kozlowski (Madison Heights, Mich./Lamphere), a sacrifice bunt moved him to second and a wild pitch advanced him to third. Anderson then reached on a throwing error, allowing Kozlowski to score and tie the game at four.
The contest stayed tied at four all the way in to extra innings. Out of pitchers with a long week of baseball coming up in the GLIAC Tournament, Potts came in to pitch the bottom of the ninth for the Lakers. After a walk and a sacrifice bunt, the Panthers were able to drop a hit in to left-center field to bring home the game-winning run and take game two by a 5-4 score.
The bullpen for the Lakers did a fine job in the game, as senior Chris Whitney (Macomb, Mich./Kellogg C.C.), junior Kyle Zegarac (Lansing, Ill./Parkland College) and Rademacher combined for six innings of one-hit relief with five strikeouts.
Cowan finished the game 2-for-4 with two RBI, while Anderson went 2-for-3 with a run scored. Senior Brian Robinson (Troy, Mich.) who had his consecutive games with a run scored streak stopped at nine in the opener, went 1-for-2 with two runs scored and two walks. Robinson leads the Lakers in on-base percentage at .510.
GVSU finishes the regular season 37-13 overall with a 27-9 record in the GLIAC, while Ohio Dominican moves to 24-24 on the season with a 16-18 record in the conference.
The Lakers will now look ahead to the 2012 GLIAC Tournament, where GVSU will have the #1 seed. They will take on Ashland, the #6 seed in the tournament, at 2 p.m. in Chillicothe, Ohio at V.A. Memorial Stadium.