GVSU’s Tarter captures elusive win

GVL / Emily Frye 
Jesse Abel

GVL / Emily Frye

GVL / Emily Frye Jesse Abel

Jay Bushen

When Grand Valley State pitcher Tim Tarter left the dugout to celebrate a seemingly routine victory with his teammates, he wasn’t expecting a Gatorade shower.

The icy surprise was long overdue.

Tarter, a 6-foot-5 junior, had made 12 career starts and 22 career appearances at the NCAA level before getting the nod Tuesday against Saginaw Valley State in Allendale. The lefty had 60.0 career innings under his belt (49 at Division I Illinois-Chicago in 2012 and 11 at GVSU in 2015) with eight no-decisions and an 0-4 record.

“It’s been weird,” said Tarter, who pitched at Elgin Community College in 2013 and was a medical redshirt at GVSU in 2014. “I’ve had a bunch of starts and have left games ahead, granted we’ve won the majority of the games, but I’ll get credited with no-decisions.”

Not this time.

Tarter gave up just three hits, three walks and one run through 5.1 innings for his first NCAA win as GVSU topped SVSU, 5-1, in the rescheduled fourth game of the series.

“He was a bulldog today,” second baseman Jesse Abel said.

The strong pitching performance continued when Kevin Hallberg took over with one on in the sixth.

Hallberg gave up one hit and one walk to set up closer Matt Williams, who served up two scoreless innings while striking out four for his fourth save of the year.

“Matt’s done a good job,” said GVSU coach Jamie Detillion. “He was a little shaky establishing his breaking ball earlier in the season. Now that we’ve fine-tuned a few things with his mechanics, the breaking ball is starting to come around. He’s really done a nice job.

“He’s got great stuff; there’s no doubt that he’s one of the more talented pitchers on our staff.”

Offensively, GVSU doubled up the Cardinals in hits (10-5) and found ways to manufacture runs. The Lakers stranded nine runners, but scored one run in the first, second, sixth, seventh and eighth innings.

Three Lakers finished with two hits: Connor Glick (2-for-3), Jamie Potts (2-for-4, one RBI) and Kevin Zak (2-for-4). Mitchell Kozlowski came through with two RBIs, while Abel continued his recent hot streak by reaching base four times. The No. 2 hitter went 1-for-2 with three walks.

Abel, who was tabbed as the GLIAC North Division Player of the Week on Monday, went a combined 6-for-12 in the four-game series with five walks, three RBIs and a double.

“I’ve been sticking to the approach,” said Abel, who is now hitting .263 on the year. “I hit some balls hard in Florida but they didn’t fall for me. I just kept on going after it. I wouldn’t say that I’ve changed my approach — minor tweaks here and there.”

GVSU (13-8, 5-3 GLIAC) starts a six-game road trip this weekend, playing four games at Wayne State (9-12, 3-5) before a doubleheader at Northwood (11-12, 5-3) on Wednesday.

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