GVSU baseball caps off disappointing campaign, looks to future

GVL / Emily Frye  Zach Berry gets a hit during GVSUs game against Hillsdale on Tuesday, April 10th, 2018.

GVL / Emily Frye  Zach Berry gets a hit during GVSU’s game against Hillsdale on Tuesday, April 10th, 2018.

Brady McAtamney

The 2018 Grand Valley State baseball team came into this season confident and anxious to improve on a solid season the year before.

“We’ve got the guys, got the talent and I think we can do a lot of damage this year, especially in our conference,” catcher Austin LaDoux said during an interview in January. “I think we’ve got a chance to go all the way to the big time, World Series. No doubt.”

Unfortunately for the Lakers, things did not go that way – not even close. 

Instead, GVSU finished the campaign with a 28-23 overall record while going 15-13 in the GLIAC, good enough for fifth place out of eight teams in the conference. However, their regular season was good enough to get them into the GLIAC tournament. 

They won the first game of the double elimination tourney convincingly over second-seeded Davenport before dropping the next game to Ashland and eventually losing a rematch with DU to end their season.

“We didn’t finish how we would have liked to, that’s for sure,” said head coach Jamie Detillion. “There’s so many obstacles throughout the year, so many challenges that you have to take on. We had five pitchers that we thought would help us that, for one reason or another, weren’t with us by the end of the season.

“We competed, but at the end of the season, the goal is to win those tournaments and not just compete in them so by that regard, it was a disappointing finish. There were some highlights, some individual performances that stood out, some guys really played well down the stretch, but unfortunately we couldn’t pull it off.”

One literal highlight of 2018 for GVSU came from senior starting pitcher Tate Brawley, who made it on ESPN’s SportsCenter twice in one week for two highlight plays in which he fielded come-backers behind his back without looking before throwing to first base to retire the batter. 

Though the season as a whole can be marked as a letdown, there were bright spots along the way that the Lakers can draw hope from. 

Sophomore first baseman Ryan Blake-Jones dominated at the plate, hitting .401 with six homeruns, nine doubles and a team high 51 runs batted in while reaching base at a .469 clip. Junior outfielder and partner in crime of Blake-Jones in the middle of the lineup, Jake Gleason, mashed 10 homeruns – most on the Lakers – while hitting .385, securing 12 doubles and driving in 50 runs. Freshman outfielder Nolan Anspaugh hit .314 out of the leadoff spot with a team high 26 walks and only 19 strikeouts.

All three players are expected back next season.

“The team showed flashes,” Detillion said. “All year long I compared it to having a good at-bat where you foul off seven, eight pitches and you’re fighting, fighting, fighting and all of a sudden you strike out versus the guy who goes up and has a good at-bat and gets a base hit or draws a walk. We just couldn’t get over that hump sometimes to compete like we’re used to.”

While 2019 is still an entire offseason away, the Lakers hope that their returning contributors, exciting incoming prospects and better luck will help carry them to a more competitive season next time around.