May 17, 2013
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. - The 18th-ranked Grand Valley State baseball team stayed in the winner's bracket on Friday (May 17), getting five RBI from junior Taylor Banks in the final three innings to defeat Lewis, 9-3.
The Lakers are now 33-16 on the year, while Lewis falls to 32-17. GVSU, the #3 seed in the tournament, will face #6 seed Bellarmine on Saturday (May 18) at 1 p.m. in a match-up of the only two unbeatens remaining in the tournament.
Unlike Thursday, when the Lakers were battling back most of the game, on Friday it was GVSU jumping out to the early lead.
In the top of the second inning, sophomore Jesse Abel started the rally after getting hit by a pitch and then stealing second. A sharp single to third base by Banks then put runners on the corners. Junior Stuart Eisler then lifted a sacrifice fly to center field that Abel came in to score on, putting the Lakers up 1-0. After Banks stole second, sophomore Mike Nadratowski reached on a throwing error and got to second in the process as Banks came around to score and make it a 2-0 game. Senior Stephen Claypool then ripped a double down the right field line to bring in Nadratowski, staking the Lakers to an early 3-0 lead.
The Lakers put another run up on the board in the top of the third as sophomore Jamie Potts walked on four pitches, stole second, then came in to score when Abel doubled up the left field gap to make it 4-0.
The score held there until the bottom of the sixth when Lewis responded in a big way, tallying four hits and taking advantage of one Laker error to push across three runs and cut the lead to 4-3.
From there, it was the Lakers' Banks who took control of the game. In the top of the seventh, Potts reached first on an infield hit, then stole second, moving to third when the throw down to second base went in to center field. Abel then worked a two-out walk and Banks hit a high fly ball deep in to left field that looked like it may go out, but it fell just short, bouncing up against the fence and allowing both Abel and Potts to score to put GVSU up 6-3.
In the top of the ninth, Potts led off with a single back up the middle and senior Chris Rudenga walked. After a flyout, Banks came to the plate and hit a ball to nearly the same spot in the park, except this time it flew well over the fence, pushing the Laker lead out to a comfortable 9-3 margin.
Senior Kyle Zegarac, who came in after the lead-off batter reached for Lewis in the bottom of the seventh, closed the door to earn his first career save, not allowing a hit in three innings of relief with two strikeouts.
Freshman Patrick Kelly (7-3) earned the victory on the mound, throwing six innings, allowing seven hits and two earned runs with three strikeouts.
Banks led the offense with his big game, going 3-for-5 with two runs, five RBI and a stolen base, including his ninth double and fourth home run of the season. His three hits tied a season high for him this season, while the five RBI is a new season high. Nadratowski went 3-for-6 with a run scored, his first triple of the year and three stolen bases, which gives him 17 thefts on the year. His three stolen bases were part of eight total that the Lakers stole on the day. Potts went 2-for-4 with three runs scored, while Abel finished 1-for-3 with two runs and an RBI.
GVSU will now take on Bellarmine on Saturday at 1 p.m. EDT, with the winner of the game advancing to Sunday's finals. The loser of that game will play Saturday night at approximately 8 p.m. EDT. Live stats for the games will be available by clicking here.