May 19, 2012
YPSILANTI, Mich. - The ninth-ranked Grand Valley State baseball team met Northern Kentucky in the NCAA Division II Midwest Regional Tournament for the fourth straight year on Saturday (May 19) and for the fourth straight time, the Lakers came out on the winning end. GVSU used a four-run fourth inning to earn a 5-0 victory over the Norse and keep the Lakers alive in the postseason.
GVSU had won the previous three regional tournament match-ups between the two teams by scores of 9-0, 7-1 and 11-2. Saturday's game wasn't much different as the Lakers shutout the Norse for the second straight postseason meeting and have now held NKU off the scoreboard in 23.1 straight innings. It was the final NCAA Division II baseball game for the Norse program as they will make the move to NCAA Division I next season.
The Lakers pushed the first run across in the bottom of the third as freshman Mike Nadratowski (Canton, Mich./Plymouth) worked his second walk of the game, stole a base and then moved to third on a sacrifice bunt. With one out, redshirt freshman Kevin Zak (Novi, Mich.) made solid contact, lacing a line drive back towards the middle of the field, but a diving catch by the pulled in second baseman kept the runner at bay. Senior Steve Anderson (Northville, Mich.) picked up the slack, however, lining a ball in to right center field for the two-out RBI to make it 1-0.
In the bottom of the fourth, the Lakers kept the pressure on, loading the bases with two outs with the aid of a Norse error. Zak then coaxed a walk to bring in senior Zach Laupp (Mattawan, Mich.) to make it 2-0. Again, Anderson had the clutch hit, driving a ball in to the right field gap to clear the bases and give the Lakers a commanding 5-0 lead.
Junior starter Anthony Campanella (Carol Stream, Ill./Elgin C.C.) kept GVSU rolling, allowing a hit with one out in the third and then not allowing another until there were two outs in the seventh.
Northern Kentucky appeared to build up some momentum to lead off the eighth, getting a lead-off walk, then beating out a double play attempt at first. The third batter, however, couldn't beat it out, rolling in to the 6-4-3 double play to send the Norse back to the dugout without a run through eight.
Campanella came out for the ninth and shut the door on the Norse, retiring them in order for the complete game nine inning shutout victory, just as Joe Jablonski did last season in their postseason meeting.
Campanella, now 8-2 on the year, went the distance, allowing only three hits and striking out three, needing only 108 pitches.
The offense was led by Anderson, the Daktronics Midwest Region Player of the Year, who went 2-for-4 with four RBI and a bases-clearing double. Zak went 1-for-3 with a run scored and an RBI.
GVSU moves its record to 43-15 on the season while Northern Kentucky finishes the year at 36-22.
The Lakers will take on Rockhurst at approximately 6 p.m. tonight for the right to advance to the championship series on Sunday. Rockhurst defeated GVSU in the first round of the tournament by a 9-4 score.