GVSU baseball wins three of four over Lake Erie

GVL / Luke Holmes -  Jake Mason (33) throws the pitch. GVSU Mens Baseball faced off against Ohio Dominican in a double header on Saturday, April 8, 2017.

Luke Holmes

GVL / Luke Holmes – Jake Mason (33) throws the pitch. GVSU Men’s Baseball faced off against Ohio Dominican in a double header on Saturday, April 8, 2017.

Josh Peick

After completing its first doubleheader sweep since February, the Grand Valley State baseball team won three of four games against Lake Erie Friday, April 14, and Saturday, April 15. The Lakers won the first pair of games 4-1 and 12-4 before splitting the second twin bill with a 7-4 loss and a 16-7 win.

In the first two games, the Lakers (22-12, 10-8 GLIAC) relied on strong pitching performances by Ryan Arnold and Jake Mason. Arnold pitched six innings of one-run ball with two walks and six strikeouts.

The Lakers entered the sixth inning tied 1-1, but Josh Smith started the inning off with a solo homerun. Later in the inning, Anthony Villar hit an RBI single followed by one more GVSU run.

Closer Matt Williams took the mound and shut the door on Lake Erie in the bottom of the seventh.

“We’re working more on pounding (the strike zone) at the knees and being able to control our off-speed (pitches) for strikes,” Mason said.

In the second game, starter Mason also pitched a complete game for the Lakers. Mason threw 8.1 innings with two earned runs, nine strikeouts and no walks.

“I was just trying to make sure I kept mixing up my pitches and keeping hitters off balance, just pounding the strike zone,” Mason said.

The start marked the first time Mason exceeded five innings pitched in his last three starts.

“It felt good to get back to where I need to be,” Mason said. “I just tried to get out of my head and just focus on having fun out there.”

The two earned runs were more than enough for the GVSU offense. The Lakers scored four runs in the second inning from a Connor Glick two-run homerun and a Villar RBI double.

Austin Ladoux added a solo homerun in the third inning before the Lakers scored four runs in the fifth inning. Seth Johnson mashed a two-run homerun in the seventh inning to add some insurance.

“We finally got the bats swinging a little bit and got a few good pitching outings from a few guys (this weekend),” Williams said. “We can compete with everyone.”

The Lakers’ five-game winning streak came to an end in the first game of the second doubleheader. After four innings, Lake Erie had a seven-run lead.

The Lakers scored four runs in the fifth inning but those would be the only runs that GVSU would muster.

“It’s a positive to win three out of four,” said GVSU coach Jamie Detillion. “All things considered, I really felt like we should have won four out of four.”

The Lakers bounced back in last game with a win in a high-scoring affair. The Lakers led 3-1 after the third inning before Smith hit his second homerun of the weekend in the fourth inning.

The Cyclones tied the game in the bottom half of the fourth inning, but the Lakers reclaimed the lead in the sixth inning. Keith Browning hit a solo homerun before Williams busted the game open with a three-run homerun.

“Just get the next guy up,” Williams said. “Just give the next guy a chance to do the same thing I did. Keep passing the bat, get on base and put pressure on the other team. One run turns into two and two turns into four.”

The Cyclones cut the lead to two runs, but the Lakers pulled away with seven runs in the final two innings. GVSU strung together multiple RBI singles in the final two innings.

“It’s always good when guys follow through with what we’ve worked on in practice,” Detillion said. “It’s not quite an exact science there, but we are getting better.

“Especially the add on runs and sometimes the game seems like it’s a meaningless situation, however if we score two or three of those runs it could be a game changer.”

With five wins in the week, the Lakers jumped into a tie with Tiffin for fourth place in the GLIAC. The Lakers will rely on consistency from their starting pitching to make a run at the conference title.

“It’s going to be crunch time here,” Mason said. “The offense is going to give us runs so the pitchers just need to pound the knees and give us a chance to win.”

GVSU will finish its four game series with Ashland in a doubleheader Wednesday, April 19, at 1p.m. and 3 p.m.