March 8, 2012
Clermont, Fla. - Grand Valley State had to come from behind twice on Thursday, but the Lakers did exactly that in a pair of late-game victories to keep their undefeated streak in tact. GVSU, now 8-0 on the season, knocked off Wayne State (Neb.) by a 3-2 score and tallied three runs in the eighth inning to defeat Northern State 7-5 in extra innings.
The Lakers trailed 2-1 heading into the bottom of the seventh inning against Wayne State, but an RBI groundout from sophomore Tonya Calkins tied the score and junior Kayleigh Bertram played the hero with a sharp single to right center field that won the game in walk-off fashion. In game two, a poor intentional walk attempt by Northern State ended up in a two-run single from sophomore Briauna Taylor, as those runs ended up being the difference in the Lakers' two-run victory.
In the opener, GVSU looked to avenge a defeat from last season against the Wildcats, when WSC gave the Lakers their first loss of the 2011 season, 7-4. Wayne State started the 2012 year with a 6-0 record and entered the game with a solid 6-2 mark.
Wayne State threatened in the top of the first inning against GVSU righthander Andrea Nicholson, but the senior never budged. The Wildcats notched a one-out double to put runners on second and third, but Nicholson induced a popup and struck out the final hitter of the inning swinging to end the threat. In the second, WSC had runners on second and third with two outs, but Nicholson fanned leadoff hitter Aeriell Earleywine swinging to get out of the jam.
Nicholson also worked her way out of trouble in the third inning (runner on second, two outs) and the fourth (runners on first and second, two outs) by ending both innings with strikeouts. In fact, she ended five of the seven innings via a strikeout.
The scoreless tie was finally broke in the top of the fifth inning. With runners on second and third base with one out, pinch hitter Slone Masters tagged a sacrifice fly to bring in the first run of the game. A Laker throwing error would have recorded the third out of the inning, but Wayne State went up 2-0 on the GVSU miscue.
Grand Valley State quickly responded, as senior Maggie Kerrigan lifted a flyball to left field that found its way over the head of WSC's outfielder. Kerrigan rolled into third base with a leadoff triple. After Taylor was hit by a pitch (putting runners on the corners), junior Katie Martinreached on a fielder's choice, forcing Taylor out at second, but scoring Kerrigan to make the score 2-1. Martin did reach second base on a two-out single from Calkins, but both runners were stranded at the end of the frame.
Again in the sixth inning, the Wildcats put runners on base, as they had consecutive two-out singles. But Nicholson again worked her way out of the threat by fanning Dani Sandel to end the inning. After WSC got a one-out single in the top of the seventh, Nicholson forced a popup from Kaiti Williams, which Taylor caught and easily fired to first to pick off the base runner for an inning-ending double play.
It was time for the Laker offense to take over in their last at-bat and they did just that. Junior centerfielder Nellie Kosola started things with a single back up the middle. After a perfectly executed sacrifice bunt from Taylor and a wild pitch, Kosola was on third base. Martin then walked and head coach Doug Woods inserted junior pitcher Hannah Santorainto the game as a pinch-runner for Martin.
Calkins came up and hit a soft groundball to shortstop, which was actually a great scenario for the Lakers. Kosola scored easily, tying the game at 2-2, and Santora made it to second as the shortstop threw Calkins out at first base. With Santora in scoring position and two outs, Bertram came up and delivered the biggest hit of the season so far - a sharp single to right center field that brought Santora around third and she scored standing up. Bertram's walk-off run-scoring single pushed the GVSU win streak to seven games.
Nicholson moved to 4-0 on the season and recorded her third complete game of the year. She did allow 10 base hits, but was instrumental in Wayne State stranding 10 batters in seven innings. One of the two runs Nicholson gave up was earned, while she walked two hitters and struck out eight.
Five different Lakers record base hits, as Kosola was the lone player for GVSU with a multi-hit contest. She was 2-for-4 with a run scored. Martin notched a double in the game, while Kerrigan had the earlier triple that scored the team's first run.
In the second game of the day (and the second time the Lakers had faced Northern State), GVSU got on board in the top of the first inning. Kosola and Taylor tallied consecutive singles and Kosola later raced him on a wild pitch during Calkins' at-bat to put the Lakers ahead, 1-0.
The score would stay that way until the third inning when Northern State struck for three runs, with some help from GVSU. Northern State would get an RBI single for its first run to tie the score at 1-1, but a few batters later, the Lakers committed two errors on the same play, giving NSU the lead. After an RBI groundout, the Wolves were on top 3-1 thanks to an uncharacteristic three-error inning by the Lakers.
Grand Valley State rebounded in the top of the fifth. Sophomore Miranda Clearysingled to start the inning, but was still on first base with two outs. After Kosola singled up the middle, pushing Cleary to second base, Taylor came up and hit a hard shot to third base. The ball deflected off the third baseman's glove and towards center field, which allowed Cleary to come around and score, making it a 3-2 game. Kosola then scored on a sharp single from Martin through the left side, tying the game at 3-3.
Calkins reached on a fielding error by the third baseman, as the ball rolled into the outfield and Taylor raced around to give GVSU a 4-3 lead. Northern State was poised to re-gain the lead in the bottom of the sixth inning, as it loaded the bases with nobody out. Santora, who had been solid throughout the game in the circle for the Lakers, was in quite a jam now. She retired Ashley Gabler on a strikeout looking. NSU's next batter, Caitlin Moran, popped out to third baseman Cleary, in foul territory, for the second out.
With two strikes on Cat Zimmermann, Santora threw an outside pitch that deflected off the glove of catcher Emily Holt. The passed ball allowed Sarah L'Allier to score from third base and tie the game. On the very next pitch, Zimmermann lined out to first base and ended the inning.
Neither team scored in the seventh inning, although Martin and Calkins had back-to-back one-out singles during the frame. The teams went to the eighth inning in GVSU's first extra-inning game of the season. Last year, the Lakers were 4-1 in extra-inning contests.
This game used the international tiebreaker rule in the eighth inning (it is normally not used until the 10th inning), where the team's last hitter in the previous inning is placed on second base to start the eighth inning to encourage scoring and prevent multiple extra innings. On the first pitch of the eighth, Cleary ripped a single up the middle and scored right fielder Emily Jonesfrom second base for the go-ahead RBI.
A one-out bunt single from left fielder Jackie Teutschpushed Cleary to second base and they were both moved over an extra base on a sacrifice bunt from Kosola. In an odd move, Northern State planned on intentionally walking Taylor to load the bases with two outs for GVSU's top hitter, Martin. The first two pitches, however, were directly over the plate (one being called a strike), despite the catcher calling for the pitch to be outside. On the third such offering, Taylor stepped into the pitch and smacked it into right center field for a single, which scored both Cleary and Teutsch for a 7-4 Laker lead.
Northern State's runner that was placed on second base did end up scoring on a two-out single, but the Wolves did no more damage, as Santora closed out the game with an eight-inning complete game. She pushed her record to 3-0 by giving up seven hits and five runs, though just one of those runs was earned. She walked three batters and struck out seven hitters.
Offensively, Taylor was 3-for-5 with three RBI, a run, and a stolen base, while Martin was 3-for-4 with an RBI. Kosola was 2-for-4 and scored twice, Cleary went 2-for-3 with two runs and a ribbie, and Teutsch was 2-for-4 with a run scored. All 14 hits for Grand Valley State were singles.
GVSU takes the field again on Friday (Mar. 9), as the Lakers take on Minnesota-Crookston at 1:00 p.m. and Kutztown at 3:00 p.m. Last season down in Florida, Grand Valley State knocked off #12 Kutztown by a 9-6 score in eight innings.