GVSU tops Walsh in three of four games

GVL / Luke Holmes - Brody Andrews grounds the ball at his feet. Grand Valley Men’s Baseball lost to Walsh college 3-4 in the first game but won 15-8 in the second game.

GVL / Luke Holmes – Brody Andrews grounds the ball at his feet. Grand Valley Men’s Baseball lost to Walsh college 3-4 in the first game but won 15-8 in the second game.

A.A. Knorr

Under clear skies and true baseball weather, the Grand Valley State baseball team nabbed three wins in a four-game homestand against Walsh on April 16 and 17.

The Lakers (19-11-1, 10-4 GLIAC) dropped the opening contest in a tight 4-3 decision, but responded with a 15-8 win in the second game of the opening doubleheader. GVSU strung together strong outings the following day, securing 7-3 and 4-3 wins over the Cavaliers (17-7, 8-6 GLIAC).

“It was a busy second game, that’s for sure,” said GVSU head coach Jamie Detillion following the first doubleheader. “Disappointing to lose the first one, and really it wasn’t that bad of a game, just a couple things I felt like we shot ourselves in the foot and cost ourselves a chance to win a game.”

Josh Griffith started the opening game and surrendered two runs in the first inning, a theme that has plagued the Lakers this season. GVSU bounced back in the middle frames, scoring a run in the fourth and two in the fifth to take a 3-2 lead. Matt Williams, Alex Young and Jason Ribecky all picked up RBIs during the stretch.

The lead wouldn’t last, however. In the top of the sixth, Walsh manufactured a pair of runs, the latter of which was aided by a Laker error, to surge ahead 4-3. With two outs in the bottom of the last, Young walked, but was gunned down trying to swipe second base to end the game.

In game two, GVSU rocked the Cavalier pitching, scoring runs each inning from the second to the seventh, picking up a 15-8 win. Kyle Lawson got the start for the Lakers, and, as is tradition, gave up a run in the first inning.

Then, the Lakers got to work. GVSU hung three runs on Walsh in the second inning, as Seth Johnson and Young ripped doubles to plate all three runs. Walsh added a run in the top of the third, but GVSU matched in the bottom. Again, Walsh scored a run in the fourth, but a three-run frame in the fourth and a four-run outburst in the fifth sent the Lakers ahead for good.

GVSU added three more runs in the bottom of the seventh thanks to a towering home run to right field off the bat of Ribecky. The senior masher picked up 10 RBIs in the four-game stretch.

“Just trusting my hands, knowing that nobody is going to beat me velocity-wise,” Ribecky said. “Just kind of stay back and try to keep the ball in the middle of the field and just trust what I have.”

Lawson hurled seven gritty innings, surrendering nine hits and four runs (three earned). The junior struck out four and walked one to pick up his sixth win of the season.

The Lakers earned a sweep the next day, as Tim Tarter and Brett Nearing picked up wins and Williams earned his 10th and 11th saves of the season.

Tarter gave up a first inning run, but Ribecky crushed his second home run of the weekend to send GVSU ahead 2-1. Soon after, Johnson singled to score catcher Connor Glick.

Tarter put together a relatively strong outing, making it through 5.2 innings while surrendering five hits and three runs (two earned). The Lakers added runs in the fourth, fifth and six, courtesy of Ribecky, Keith Browning and Williams.

Weary after 23 innings of ball, GVSU sent sophomore Mitch Ashcraft to the hill for his second start of the season. Ashcraft bucked the trend, and made it out of the first inning unscathed, but gave up three runs on four hits and a walk in the second inning.

Ashcraft settled down, however, and hung zeroes on the scoreboard prior to his departure early in the sixth inning. His start factored into a no-decision, but the innings were key for a drained pitching staff.

“They were hitting fastballs, so I had to develop of off-speed,” Ashcraft said. “I was throwing mostly for strikes, besides the (third) inning I left some balls up, but other than that I kept the ball in the zone with the off-speed and got outs. That’s the biggest thing.

“It obviously kind of got to me a little bit, but going into the third inning I knew I had to put up a zero.”

GVSU chipped away at Walsh’s 3-0 lead, plating runs in the third and fourth, as Anthony Villar drove in Young, and Johnny Nate scored Browning, both on singles. Detillion made the move to pull Ashcraft in the top of the sixth, and inserted nearing, who picked up his second win of the season with two shutout innings.

The Lakers tied the game in the bottom of the sixth, as second baseman Josh Smith plated Johnson with a sharp RBI single to left center. The winning run, however, came in a more pedestrian fashion.

With runners on the corners, Villar smacked a pitch directly into the dirt in front of the plate. The ball shot high into the air, and by the time it came down, Villar stood safely on first and Nate had crossed the plate.

Williams came in for a two-inning save, and though he didn’t record any strikeouts, effectively kept the Cavaliers off the scoreboard. Walsh advanced runners to first and second with two outs in the ninth, but Williams induced a high popup to first base, where Josh Griffth squeezed it for the win.

GVSU has won five of six, and will hit the road to take on Northwood in a doubleheader on April 20, before wrapping the week up at Findlay on April 23 and 24.