GVSU baseball wins four of first six games of spring break trip

GVL / Emily Frye 
Infielder Anthony Villar runs off the field between innings against Saginaw Valley State University on Saturday Mar. 26, 2016.

Emily Frye

GVL / Emily Frye Infielder Anthony Villar runs off the field between innings against Saginaw Valley State University on Saturday Mar. 26, 2016.

Josh Peick

The Grand Valley State baseball team traveled to Orlando, Florida for the Russmatt Invitational as a spring break trip. In the nine-game trip, the Lakers won four of the first six games to improve to an 8-2 record early in the season.

The Lakers set the tone for the trip in the first game with a comeback 9-8 victory over Minnesota-Mankato. GVSU was down four runs in the ninth inning, but a four-run rally tied the game before Anthony Villar hit a walk-off double in the 10th inning to win the game.

“We knew we could do it and pull it out,” Villar said. “We just bared down and had some really good at bats. That game showed us what kind of potential we have for this year.”

The comeback win marked the second time this season that the Lakers have scored three or more runs after the eighth inning to win a game. The first time came against Alderson Broaddus in a 10-9 win.

“We keep fighting and we know that we can win a game in any moment,” said Seth Johnson.

The next four games of the trip were all lopsided affairs. The Lakers lost to Saint Joseph 13-3 in the second game of the trip. The Pumas scored 12 of their runs in a three-inning span between the fifth and seventh innings.

GVSU’s Mitch Ashcraft helped the Lakers rebound in the next game with a 12-1 win over Minnesota-Duluth. Ashcraft threw a complete game on the mound, giving up only one run in seven innings.

“He mixed his pitches really well and worked down in the zone,” Detillion said. “That’s the pitcher’s job to keep the hitters off balanced.”

Ashcraft recorded six strikeouts throughout the game and the lone Duluth run came in the last inning. The Lakers offense provided Ashcraft with a lead early in the game.

“It makes it a lot easier to pitch when you know that you can give up a couple of hits and maybe let a run come across and still be in position to win the game,” Ashcraft said.

In a rematch against Duluth later that same day, the Lakers were bested 10-3. Duluth scored nine runs in the fourth inning which was enough to pull away from the Lakers. Villar added another three RBIs to his trip total in the game.

A common theme of the first-half of the trip for the Lakers is the depth of the lineup. The one through nine hitters have all produced quality at-bats.

“If guys have an off day, but there is a guy right behind him that will pick him up and pick up that hit,” Villar said. “You look down the order and there’s a lot of potential.”

The Lakers showed that depth in a 15-3 win over Notre Dame College. Brody Andrews drove in four runs on two homeruns while Johnny Nate recorded three RBIs.

The GVSU lineup does not possess one stand-out quality such as power or speed, but throughout the lineup every player can provide what the team needs in that moment.

“It helps when guys can be versatile,” Villar said. “You can have a guy that hits for power but that also can lay down a sacrifice bunt and get the runner over. It’s something that deep in the game, such as the Mankato game, when you need something out of a hitter they can succeed in any aspect of the game.”

In the sixth game of the trip, the Lakers topped Lewis 4-3 backed by a scoreless five frames from starting pitcher Sawyer Chambers. All nine hitters recorded a hit for the Lakers.

GVSU still has three games to play during the trip before returning home to play three games against Wisconsin-Parkside in Westfield, Indiana Saturday, March 18 and Sunday, March 19. The Lakers will look to continue their hot start before GLIAC play begins March 25 against Walsh.

“As in any year, it’s a learning experience early,” Detillion said. “It’s good to be winning while you are learning, so at 8-2 that’s a pretty solid start.”