GVSU blanks ODU twice, sweeps series
Lakers coast as pitchers twirl 17 straight shutout innings
The No. 17 Grand Valley State University baseball team outscored Ohio Dominican University 21-4 in a three-game sweep over the weekend as a trio of junior college transfers paved the way for 10-0, 2-0 and 9-4 Laker wins.
GVSU (19-7, 10-2 GLIAC) maintained its place atop the conference standings as juniors Evan Nietfeldt, Aaron Jensen and Kevin Hallberg each picked up victories on the mound.
“They did their job,” coach Jamie Detillion said. “They threw strikes and gave our team a chance to win, which was exactly what our team needed.”
The team, which recently dropped two of three contests at Tiffin University, was firing on all cylinders on Saturday in game one.
Nietfeldt (5-0) needed just 89 pitches to go the distance in a four-hit, nine-inning shutout after surrendering just four hits and zero walks. His five wins are tied for the most in the GLIAC, while his ERA (0.90) is the third lowest.
Meanwhile, junior center fielder Mike Nadratowski went 3-for-5 with four RBIs as the Laker bats came alive in the 15-hit outing.
“We didn’t get too far ahead of ourselves,” Nadratowski said. “Some guys were pressing early in the season — could be cold weather, could be a lack of reps — but now that we’re outside, people are relaxing a bit more so that’s a main reason why we’re swinging the bat well right now.”
The offensive momentum didn’t exactly carry over into game two on Sunday, but it didn’t need to.
Grand Rapids Community College transfer Aaron Jensen (4-2) followed up Nietfeldt’s impressive performance by giving up just two hits in 5.2 scoreless innings.
“They work fast and it helps us stay in the game,” Nadratowski said. “When they do that and throw strikes it’s a big advantage for us.”
Senior closer Chris Ripple, who transferred to GVSU in 2011, picked up his seventh save of the 2014 campaign.
Junior right fielder Jamie Potts and junior second baseman Kevin Zak supplied the RBIs for GVSU in the third inning.
Zak picked up where he left off later in game three by delivering what turned out to be a game-winning two-RBI single in the bottom of the fourth inning.
He, Nadratowski and shortstop Stuart Eisler each came through with a pair of RBIs in the 9-4 win.
“When we’re at our best, we’re the best team in the GLIAC,” Nadratowski said. “There’s been a couple of times that we’ve played down to our opponents, but we’re going to overcome that.”
Hallberg (1-1) notched the victory in his first career start before senior reliever Dan Saier recorded his first save of the season.
GVSU, which has yet to play a home game, hosted the series at Eastern Michigan University’s Oestrike Stadium due to unplayable field conditions in Allendale.
“Most of us were pretty used to it,” Zak said. “We had the GLIAC Tournament there last year and we’ve played there in regionals so a lot of us were familiar with the field.”
The team is scheduled to host a doubleheader at home against Saginaw Valley State University on Wednesday starting at 2 p.m.