GVSU sweeps SVSU in GLIAC opener
Williams, Lawson earn wins as Lakers take tight games
Strong pitching, mostly clean fielding and a timely walk highlighted the start of the GLIAC season for the Grand Valley State baseball team, which swept Saginaw Valley State in a home doubleheader on March 26.
"Consistency, that's the biggest thing for this team right now is consistency," said GVSU head coach Jamie Detillion. "We've had a couple good days, we've had a couple bad days, we start our conference like this, of course this is how we wanted to start, the biggest thing for us right now is consistency, keeping it rolling and let two wins turn into a good handful."
The Lakers (11-7-1, 2-0-0 GLIAC) were originally scheduled to open GLIAC play at SVSU (8-11-0, 0-0-2 GLIAC), but weather concerns flipped the venue to Allendale, where clear skies, calm winds and sunshine reigned.
Senior Josh Griffith opened game one on the bump for GVSU, and got tagged for three runs in the first inning, though one unearned run was aided by an Anthony Villar error at third base. Griffith settled in, however, and finished after five innings with three runs allowed, six hits and three walks.
The Lakers chipped away at the lead. In the third inning, second baseman Johnny Nate led off and was hit by a pitch. The next batter, catcher Brody Andrews, knocked a double down the right field line to score Nate. Andrews advanced to third on a grounder, and scored on a balk by SVSU star pitcher Michael Ellenbest.
GVSU tied the score up in the fifth inning, as center fielder Alex Young singled, then stole second and advanced to third on a throwing error from the SVSU catcher. Soon after, right fielder Keith Browning lifted a sacrifice fly to center field to tie the game at 3-3.
Tim Tarter came in in relief of Griffith, and tossed 1.1 innings of shutout ball. GVSU closer Matt Williams entered the game in the seventh for what turned out to be an extended appearance, and blanked the Cardinals through the next 2.2 innings, allowing no hits and issuing just one walk.
The game, which was scheduled for seven innings, continued into extras until the Lakers loaded the bases and Young drew a seven-pitch walkoff walk to give GVSU a 4-3 win in the conference opener. Williams earned his first win of the season.
"It's a good sign of what is to come for our team because I think we're a competitive group and that's good to see, especially going down 3-0," Detillion said. "The way we just kind of hung around and clawed and scratched and fought our way through and pulled it off at the end. It was a good team win."
GVSU season-ace Kyle Lawson got the start in game two, and though the Cardinals made solid contact often, Lawson and the Laker defense were able to keep SVSU off the scoreboard the majority of the contest.
Lawson dealt six strong innings, allowing seven hits, two walks and one run, while striking out two. The Lakers never trailed, snagging a 3-1 win in game two.
"It's just a matter of finding my pitches before the game," Lawson said after picking up his fourth win of the season. "Today I didn't have my changeup working, which didn't help me out, but before, my curveball and changeup have really helped me out."
Williams opened the scoring by plating Young on a sacrifice fly in the third inning. The Lakers added another on Browning's second sacrifice fly of the day in the fifth inning, as the speedy Young scored again.
SVSU got a run back in the top of the sixth off Lawson, but GVSU added an insurance run in the bottom of the inning as left fielder Seth Johnson doubled to score catcher Connor Glick.
Despite throwing 40 pitches the game before, Williams entered the game to close in the top of the seventh, making short work of the Cardinals in a 1-2-3 inning to earn his fifth save of the season.
"I felt good," Williams said. "I could've gone more in the first game if we needed to and I could've gone more this game if we needed to. In between games (Detillion) was like, 'What do you think?' And I said, 'One, two (innings) if you need it.'"
The Lakers will travel to Saginaw for the second leg of the series in a doubleheader on March 29.