GVSU club baseball returns 20 players for 2015

GVL/Kevin Sielaff
Chris Zuby

GVL/Kevin Sielaff Chris Zuby

Andy Smith

The Grand Valley State baseball club has seen high hopes and championship dreams dashed by Minnesota State – Moorhead in the regional championship two years in a row.

This season, the Lakers are ready to kick that habit before it becomes a trend. The roster is loaded with returning talent, meaning GVSU brings back chemistry, skill and a drive to leap over the bump that has tripped the Lakers up the past two seasons.

“The strength of our team is the leadership that we have coming back this year,” said club coach Michael Tagliavia. “We have six guys that are four-year starters for us on the team that are setting the pace for the younger players and showing them how the game should be and is played the right way.”

The Lakers return 20 players from the 2014 team, which finished 13-7 (5-1 District 5 East Conference). The conference loss was out of the ordinary for GVSU, which has compiled a 41-1 record in conference play over the last three seasons.

“We have pretty much the same group of guys coming back this year,” said junior Josh Hinkley. “We want to work harder this year, make sure that we always stay focused and make sure we are always trying to better ourselves as players by staying focused.”

A key returner for the Lakers is junior outfielder Colin McGeen. McGeen was a catalyst for GVSU’s offense last season as he led the team in runs (18), stolen bases (10) and hit by pitches (3) last year for the Lakers.

“Our main goal, at least for the fall semester, is to keep building the team chemistry, and trying to figure out who fits where and what lineups will be the most effective for us as a team going forward this season,” McGeen said.

The Lakers are also looking for big things out of senior first baseman Kyle Bloom. Bloom hit .362 for the Lakers last year, and had an on-base percentage of .436.

“Kyle is the best hitter on our team, and maybe even the best hitter in the country,” Tagliavia said.

Pitcher Marcus Gignac also returns for the Lakers, looking to continue his perfect streak. Gignac has not lost a regular season game in three years as a member of the club squad.

The Lakers got the season started off the season with a statement sweep, making easy work of conference rival Michigan Tech Sept. 26. GVSU’s bats came to life as the Lakers scored 45 runs in the three-game series. The Huskies only scored four runs in the three combined games, as GVSU won 14-3, 13-1 and 18-0.

“I am really happy. This was a great weekend not only for us on the field, but off the field as well,” said catcher Derek Verbruggen. “It is a long bus ride up to Michigan Tech, so we took the opportunity to bond as a team and develop great chemistry between players.

“Our new guys really stepped up for us, our pitching and offense was also very consistent for us. We hit the ball really well, everyone got to play and even got to try a few new things.”

The Lakers are back in action on Oct. 17 as they travel to Saginaw Valley State for a double-header.