Brugnoni powers GV in series win at Walsh
Senior Giancarlo Brugnoni makes the play at first base. GV / Emily Frye.
First baseman Giancarlo Brugnoni said he knew he was going to “have some fun” over the weekend – and it didn’t take him long to prove it.
Brugnoni hit his 40th and 41st career home runs in his first two at-bats of a three-game series as the No. 15 Grand Valley State University baseball team took two out of three games (a 10-1 win, a 5-2 win and a 15-12 loss) at Walsh University to maintain its place atop the GLIAC standings.
“I saw pitches that I could handle,” said the senior, who went 3-for-3 with six RBIs in game one. “I was saying how my swing felt really good during practice and in the mid-week games, and I carried that over into batting practice on Saturday.”
He became just the second player in GLIAC history to hit 40 career home runs with a three-run blast to put the Lakers up 3-0 in the top of the first.
He wasn’t done.
After GVSU stretched its lead to 6-0 in the top of the second, he once again stepped to the plate with two on and was thrown a two-strike breaking ball, which he kindly deposited over the fence.
The De La Salle High School product needs five home runs to tie the GLIAC record held by GVSU head coach Jamie Detillion, who hit 46 for Ashland University from 1997-2000.
“I stayed back and waited for the breaking ball — I want them to make the mistake,” Brugnoni said.
The Lakers added one more run in the fourth inning before walking away with the victory. Junior starter Aaron Jensen (5-2) pitched all seven innings while giving up six hits and one run.
Brugnoni picked up where he left off in the team’s 30th game of the season by starting a four-run third with an RBI single.
“He’s been hitting it well all year,” said junior designated hitter Jesse Abel. “His preparation from the fall and spring was outstanding and that’s carried over into the season. He swung at a lot of good pitches, got the pitches that he wanted to hit, and hit them over the fence.”
Junior starter Evan Nietfeldt (6-0) allowed just five hits and two runs in six innings of work before senior closer Chris Ripple picked up his ninth save of the season.
The series finale proved to be a disappointing finish for the Lakers, who snapped their seven-game winning streak after blowing a big second-inning lead.
After Abel provided a three-run homer in the top of the first, junior outfielder Jamie Potts came through with a two-RBI single in the second before Brugnoni drew a bases-loaded walk to make it a 7-2 game.
“We’ve been hitting it well all year — we’ve got a pretty deep lineup,” Abel said. “Coach likes to mix and match with different players coming off the bench and he’s done a good job of finding the right guys. It’s a very potent offense.”
The Lakers led 12-5 in the top of the sixth after a two-run blast by senior shortstop Stuart Eisler, but the lead didn’t last.
Walsh put together a huge seventh inning – with seven hits and seven runs – after outfielder Andrew Bonnette belted a grand slam. The Cavaliers eventually took a 13-12 lead and a series-ending victory after roughing up seven different GVSU pitchers.
“It was one of our worst games so far but that’s going to happen every once in a while, you can’t win them all,” Detillion said. “We’ll see how we rebound in Saginaw.”
GVSU (23-8, 14-3 GLIAC) will travel to take on Saginaw Valley State University for a nine-inning matchup on Wednesday at 2 p.m.