Schipper's heroics spark 3-0 series for GVSU
Lakers climb back into first place with sweep of Findlay
Freshman outfielder Joel Schipper stepped to the plate with two outs in the bottom of the 11th as the timeless nursery rhyme “Skip to My Lou” blared over the PA system.
Rookies on the Grand Valley State University baseball team don’t have the luxury of choosing their pre-at-bat music, and Schipper — who is also the kicker on GVSU’s football team — is no exception.
The Grand Rapids, Mich. native went 0-for-4 prior to the game-winning opportunity on Saturday, but had a chance to be the hero with seniors Taylor Banks and Stuart Eisler on first and second.
“Stepping up there I was pretty confident,” Schipper said. “I mean I kind of struggled on the day but you have to keep a positive attitude when things aren’t going your way.”
Schipper split the uprights of first and second base with an RBI single, and the Lakers walked off with a 2-1 victory in game one of a three-game set against the University of Findlay in Allendale.
GVSU (27-11, 18-6 GLIAC) snapped its three-game losing streak with the win before taking 6-2 and 12-4 victories in games two and three. The team is 21-0 against Findlay since April 2009.
The Lakers reclaimed first place atop the conference standings after Lake Erie College dropped two out of three games at home to Wayne State University.
“It’s nice to rebound and start to play well,” GVSU coach Jamie Detillion said. “We kind of need a trigger point at this point in the season to give us a push off into a nice hot streak — so hopefully this is the answer.”
Junior transfer Aaron Jensen pitched eight strong innings in game one while giving up just five hits and one run. Seniors Chris Ripple and Dan Saier (W 2-1) threw three scoreless innings to close out the game.
The Lakers had eight hits against Oiler pitchers Jon Walker and Alex Williams in the 11-inning clash. Eisler went 3-for-5 to lead the way offensively for GVSU.
Eisler once again supplied three of the team’s eight hits in game two, while juniors Kevin Zak and Jamie Potts both had two hits to go with an RBI.
Junior starter Kevin Hallberg (W 2-1) threw 110 pitches and struck out six while surrendering just five hits, one walk and two runs in 6.1 innings of work. Saier earned the last two outs of the 6-2 victory.
“They’ve done a really good job for the most part, they put us in position to win every game,” Zak said of the pitching staff. “Our offense is a huge asset to our team, so they give us a chance and have done an excellent job in these last three games.”
It was a windy Sunday at the GVSU Baseball Field for game three, and the result was a lot more offense. Zak and Findlay designated hitter Reid Rothenbuhler took advantage early on.
Both players homered in their first at-bat, doubled in their second, and singled in their third trip to the plate. Rothenbuhler went 4-for-5 on the day with four RBIs while Zak hit 4-for-4 with one RBI.
GVSU junior third baseman Aaron Overbeck went 2-for-5 with three RBIs, while junior outfielder Mike Nadratowski — who hit an inside-the-park home run in the seventh inning — finished 2-for-3 with two RBIs.
“That was awesome, if there’s one guy who can hit an inside-the-park home run, it’s him,” Zak said. “He absolutely flies. That was pretty cool — you don’t see that too often.”
Junior starter Evan Nietfeldt (W 7-1) threw 105 pitches in eight innings while giving up eight hits and three earned runs. His seven strikeouts were the most by a GVSU starting pitcher this season.
The team returns to the diamond for a nine-inning matchup at Northwood University on Monday at 2 p.m. The Lakers will then return to Allendale to play each of their last five games at home.