For the first time since 1999, the Grand Valley State University men’s baseball program had a new face in the dugout as they began their 2013 campaign.
Manager Jamie Detillion replaced former manager Steve Lyons, who led GVSU to a 552-205-2 during his 14-year tenure.
The Lakers will look to build off of their 2012 season that saw them finish with a 43-16 record, capture their ninth GLIAC title in the last ten years, and advance to the NCAA Division II tournament for the 11th straight season.
GVSU began its 2013 campaign in Florida during their spring break trip and has thus far compiled a 4-3 record.
“We’re still at an early point in the season and trying to figure out some parts of our lineup and what kind of pitching we have,” Detillion said. “We have some good arms, but we have some inexperience, so we kind of give some guys some opportunities in some competitive situations and see what they can do. “
After seven games, GVSU’s team batting average was at .344 and tallied 46 RBIs, including a .481 slugging percentage.
“I think we’ve been hitting the ball well,” said sophomore center fielder Mike Nadratowski, who last year was named GLIAC Freshman of the Year. “We’ve been able to drive the ball to all fields as a team. Our motive right now is to grow as a team and work the kinks out. Everyone’s been accepting their role and making the best of it.”
GVSU has been led by junior infielder Giancarlo Brugnoni to this point of the season. Brugnoni’s batting average is currently at .609, and he has already tallied 16 RBIs and four home runs.
“Giancarlo (Brugnoni) has been the leader so far,” Detillion said. “He’s swinging the heck out of it right now. He’s carried us and gave us an opportunity to win. He’s been playing pretty well for us through seven games.”
For Detillion, as a new manager, one of his main goals is that his team will continue to grow and improve throughout the long season.
“I just want guys to come to the park every single day ready to play and give us everything they’ve got,” Detillion said. “I keep telling them to focus on the process. At the end of the day, at the end of the season, the results should take care of themselves and we should be in good shape.”
The spring break trip serves as a way for new players to get acclimated with each other. The trip also allowed GVSU to play outside for the first time in awhile after many indoor practices.
“We’re gelling with each other on the field,” Brugnoni said. “Getting to know each other and what tendencies we have and learning stuff from our pitchers. Just getting the key things down to get our season kick started so that when we come back, we’ll be ready for GLIAC play.
We’ve been inside for a couple months now. In the first game, you could tell everyone was so psyched to be out there.”
GVSU will look to rebuild their pitching rotation and find some stability for the remainder of the season. The team lost three of its top four starters from 2012. The only returning pitcher from the rotation is senior Anthony Campanella, who posted an 8-2 record last year with a 3.08 ERA.
The Lakers will look to a group of transfers to fill the voids in the rotation. Senior Kyle Teague, who redshirted in 2012 due to transfer rules, comes over after stints at Oakland University and Valdosta State University. Juniors Sean Clancy and Chris Ward will also look to solidify their places in the GVSU rotation. Clancy attended Kellogg Community College, while Ward last played at Owens Community College.
“We do have a lot of new pieces,” Detillion said. “On the pitching side of things, we got a lot of new faces that will get some opportunities.
We got to develop and continue to get better as the season goes along whether we win or lose. If we lose, we gotta learn from it and figure out how to correct some things and continue to build on it. We got good players and I’m extremely happy with that. To win and win at a higher level, and to win championships, we just have to continue to get better.”