Highs and lows
GVSU baseball team reflects on 'disappointing' final outcome
GVL/Kevin Sielaff - Matt Williams (7) takes a swing during the game vs. Ashland on Wednesday, April 12, 2017.
The Grand Valley State baseball team dropped the final game of the season Saturday, May 13, to Tiffin in the GLIAC Tournament, 7-5.
Right off the bat, Tiffin jumped on GVSU as their bats came alive right at the beginning of the game. Within the first three innings, the Lakers fell into a 5-0 hole. In the fifth inning, GVSU bats finally came alive when they scored five runs to tie up the game. Tiffin eventually added two more runs, while GVSU bats went quiet for the rest of the game.
GVL / Luke Holmes - Austin LaDoux (24) swings at the ball. GVSU Men’s Baseball played a double-header against Tiffin University on Saturday, April 1, 2016.
GVSU finished with a 31-23 season record and 17-15 record in conference play. It was well below what they finished with in 2016 (36-18-1) and 2015 (34-18) and even 2014 (39-13). It is the worst record GVSU has had in over a decade.
GVSU pitcher Ryan Arnold was proud of his team for getting that far, but he still thought they could’ve gone farther.
“We had high expectations off the bat,” Arnold said. “We had the preseason ranking of ninth in the nation. We definitely had a target on our backs being the conference champs, and obviously we didn’t live up to that expectation, so you can look at it either way. For team expectations, I think we were a little disappointed in the outcome, but if you just look at the team in Division II standings, I’d say we did okay.”
Arnold, who will be a senior next season, said the team will have pretty much every pitcher coming back to the team except for one, Sawyer Chambers. They’ll be losing a lot of position players, so the Lakers understand there’s going to have to be a lot of guys stepping up and filling those roles next season.
Arnold said one of the team’s biggest strengths was that when they were on a winning streak, they really were able to take advantage of that and keep it going. On the other hand, one of their weaknesses was that whenever they got down, they got really down on themselves.
“It was hard for us to pick ourselves back up after something didn’t go our way,” Arnold said. “We rode our lows a lot harder than we rode our highs.”
As far as individual awards for the team, three Lakers were picked to D2CCA All-Region Teams. Relief pitcher Matt Williams was a First Team selection, while Arnold and outfielder Seth Johnson were named to the second team. Williams and Arnold were also named to the ABCA/Rawlings All-Midwest Second Team.
Outfielder Keith Browning, infielder/designated hitter Austin LaDoux and Arnold were named to the GLIAC All-Tournament Team at the conclusion of the tournament.
Coach Jamie Detillion is not making excuses, but he knows where his team may have come into some trouble.
“The standard at GVSU is set so high, so looking at it from a wins and losses perspective is a little disappointing,” Detillion said. “We had to deal with some injuries that affected us. We had five guys that we couldn’t use this season for either part of it or all of it. So that was a big setback right there.”
Detillion said that the team is a year away from playing again, but there’s going to be some high expectations for next season, as always, because this is GVSU.
“As a coaching staff we’re recruiting to bring in the best players we can find, strengthen our roster and try to fill some areas of guys we’re losing,” he said.
In the offseason, a lot of players are taking part in summer ball to get more reps in while GVSU isn’t playing. For some guys, it’s about getting in better shape. A lot of GVSU pitchers don’t necessarily go through summer ball, but they go through some workout regimens to try to gain arm strength or even improve their mechanics.
GVSU catcher Connor Glick didn’t think GVSU baseball finished the season on a positive note, either.
“Looking back, we didn’t have a good year at all for our standard,” Glick said. “The whole season was on us. I feel we were the better team against anyone we played and sometimes we just didn’t play to our potential and underperformed.
If GVSU beat Tiffin, they would have faced Northwood in the title game that Sunday morning.
“Our goals for next year are to make it to the World Series,” Glick said. “We have high goals, and they can happen; we just have to believe and have confidence. We have the talent, and it’s just more of the mental side of the game we need to work on."