GVSU baseball records second-best season in school history

Couresy / GVSU Lakers 
Sophomore 2B Kevin Zak making a throw during the Lakers playoff run.

Couresy / GVSU Lakers Sophomore 2B Kevin Zak making a throw during the Lakers playoff run.

Bryce Derouin

If the adage “It’s not how you start, but how you finish” has a place in sports, then the 2013 Grand Valley State University baseball team is a prime example.

After an inauspicious 6-7 start to the season left the Lakers scratching their heads. GVSU bounced back and completed the second-best finish in school history with a third place finish in the NCAA Division II Baseball National Finals.

“I’m really proud of the way our team responded after a 6-7 start in March,” head coach Jamie Detillion said. “To be that close to the national championship game really speaks volumes on the hard work, dedication and leadership from our guys. This group overcame some adversity and really showed up to play in big games down the stretch. I’m happy for our seniors to end their college playing careers in Cary.”

On Friday, May 31, the No. 14 Lakers (38-19) had their season end in the semifinals with a 10-1 loss to the No. 1 ranked University of Tampa.

The top of the fourth inning proved to be the difference for GVSU. With the Lakers already trailing 1-0, Tampa managed to load the bases with nobody out. GVSU would respond by recording two force outs at home. However, just as it looked like the Lakers would escape the inning unscathed, Tampa hit a fly ball to left field that looked like it could be a routine out, but the ball managed to carry over the fence for a grand slam, giving them a 5-0 advantage.

Tampa continued the onslaught in the top of the sixth, where it managed to get four hits and added five more runs to build a comfortable 10-0 lead.

“They are loaded top to bottom with talent, so we knew we’d have our hands full in trying to beat them again Friday,” Detillion said. “We gave it a good run and fell short. To me, year in and year out, Tampa is the Yankees of Division II.”

GVSU forced the second game with Tampa after it defeated the team 4-0 on Thursday, May 30, behind an excellent pitching performance from senior Kyle Teague (8-3), who pitched a complete game while allowing only five hits and four walks, and striking out eight on 127 pitches.

“I felt good today,” Teague said on Thursday. “I felt good against Minnesota State too, but was just a little more sharp today. My change-up was working and I was pitching to contact, but was able to get the strikeouts when I needed them.”

GVSU recorded three wins in this year’s national tournament, which matches the best win total in the national finals in school history. After a 2-0 tournament opening loss to Minnesota State University, the Lakers reeled off wins against Shippensburg University, Franklin Pierce University and Tampa.

The two teams that GVSU lost to—Minnesota State and Tampa—played each other for the national championship.

The strong season has already made for high expectations for next year, where the Lakers will hope to duplicate their success and then some.

“I think it raises everyone’s expectations and the fact that the people have been there before and coming back next year,” said sophomore outfielder Mike Nadratowski. “Their expectations will be higher and they’ll understand how hard we have to work to get there. Also, how long of a process it is and just how we have to stay on top of our game.”

If there were any questions about Detillion’s ability to fill in for former coach Steve Lyon, he answered them soundly. After recording one of the best seasons in GVSU baseball history in his first year, Detillion deflected the praise to his players.

“It doesn’t matter if I’m a player, assistant coach or head coach—I like to win,” Detillion said. “I’m excited for our guys to have had a great experience this season. It’s never about a coach and always about the players, so I’m excited for the program and both its current and former players who take so much pride in GVSU and its accomplishments.”
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