GVSU bats heat up in sunny Florida
Lakers post 5-2 record to begin spring break trip
Jesse Abel. Archive / Robert Mathews
Like many major league teams, the Grand Valley State University baseball team began the month of March in Florida.
However, the Lakers don’t have a chance to fine-tune their skills in throwaway games. These games count, and GVSU is taking full advantage of them.
GVSU (7-3) started the week off with a bang, invoking the mercy rule against Lewis University in a 17-6 seven-inning rout. The Laker bats led the charge as senior first baseman Giancarlo Brugnoni, junior outfielder Jamie Potts and junior infielder Jesse Abel all collected three hits.
Brugnoni, GVSU’s all-time home run leader, blasted his second round-tripper of the season as part of his five-RBI day.
Junior Aaron Jensen picked up his first win of the season, tossing five innings of three-hit ball as his offense paved the way to a decisive victory.
“We’re clicking as a team and scoring a lot of runs right now and it’s helping our pitchers out,” Potts said.
GVSU brought the brooms out in game two on Tuesday, downing Lewis in convincing fashion with a 12-5 win to sweep its first series of the week.
Junior pitcher Evan Nietfeldt twirled six scoreless innings to take the win and the Lakers used a nine-run fourth inning to blow the doors off.
“It’s huge to start off with two wins against Lewis – a semifinalist in our region last year,” GVSU head coach Jamie Detillion. “To beat them is huge for regional points later in the season for NCAA committee decisions.”
The trip’s third game took place against Florida Southern University, a team that had played the Detroit Tigers in an exhibition game just weeks before.
GVSU was unable to stay hot, as FSU pushed the winning run across in the bottom of the sixth to hand the Lakers their first defeat of the trip 7-6.
Sophomore pitcher Patrick Kelly was tagged with the loss.
After a rainout on Thursday, GVSU headed to Auburndale for a doubleheader against Seton Hill University.
Jensen took to the rubber again, and managed to remain perfect on the road trip as the Lakers led from start to finish, winning game one 5-2.
Potts went 3-3 to lead the offense as Brugnoni drove in two runs with his third home run of the season.
In game two, Seton Hill took its first lead of the game in the bottom of the sixth due to a groundout and an RBI double and, after shutting GVSU down in the seventh, took the nightcap 7-6.
“It’s disappointing because we feel like we let one get away,” Detillion said. “I really like our team right now and we’ve lost three one-run games to good teams.
“That’s baseball, but I’m happy with the way we’ve played.”
To complete its stretch of four games in two days, GVSU took on Upper Iowa University in a doubleheader on Sunday. The Lakers didn’t show any signs of fatigue, and won both games to bolster their record to 7-3.
The team used a strong effort from its bullpen in game one after senior starter Chris Ward was knocked out of the game after allowing four runs in three innings.
With the game tied at 4-4, seniors Dan Saier and Chris Ripple combined to post four scoreless innings out of the pen to help the Lakers take a 5-4 victory.
Abel and Brugnoni both cleared the fences for their first and fourth home runs of the year, respectively.
The second game was not as close.
GVSU scored five runs in the second inning and didn’t look back, pouring on three more in the third and fifth innings as it swept yet another series, winning game two 11-3.
Junior infielder Kevin Zak continued to brandish a red-hot bat, going 4-4 while scoring three runs in the game.
The Lakers showcased impressive offensive depth in the victory, as seven different players contributed with RBIs.
Senior pitcher Sean Clancy threw a complete game to pick up his first win of the season.
“We came out and got two good starts from out pitchers. We feel like we’re playing really well,” catcher Taylor Banks said. “It’s a lot of baseball, we just have to fight through it.”
GVSU will conclude the spring break trip with consecutive games against Minnesota State University and Winona State University in Auburndale on Monday.