Baseball drops three games to Walsh in four-game series

GVL / Emily Frye    
Sophomore Connor Glik steps up to the plate against Northwood University on Wednesday April 13, 2016.

Emily Frye

GVL / Emily Frye Sophomore Connor Glik steps up to the plate against Northwood University on Wednesday April 13, 2016.

Josh Peick

In the first conference series of the season for the Lakers, the Grand Valley State and Walsh baseball teams combined for 11 home runs and 35 runs scored—and that was just one game.

The Lakers dropped three games of a four-game series against Walsh Friday and Saturday, March 24-25 The Cavaliers won the first three games of the series 7-3, 18-17 and 3-2 before the Lakers took the last game 12-8.

“We let a couple games slip away when we had leads,” said GVSU coach Jamie Detillion. “It’s still early in our season, and we have to find some positive moments to build off of.”

In the first game of the weekend, the Cavaliers jumped out to a 6-0 lead after the first five innings. The Lakers were able to cut the lead to three runs in the sixth inning, but the rally came too late as Walsh pitched a scoreless seventh frame.

In a high-scoring second game, the Lakers grabbed a 13-8 lead after five innings with a Johnny Nate grand slam coming in the second inning. The Cavaliers chipped away at the Lakers’ lead until forcing extra innings in a 15-15 tie.

With four games in two days, managing pitchers and pitch count in a high-scoring game can be difficult in order to not burn through too many arms. The Lakers used only four pitchers the entire game, but with high-speed winds blowing out toward the fence, runs given up inflated due to fly balls carrying out of a small Walsh park.

“It definitely makes it difficult,” Detillion said. “It just went back and forth so much it was frustrating to get that result.”

In the top of the 10th inning, Josh Smith hit a two-run home run to give the Lakers a two-run lead. The home run was the fifth GVSU home run and tenth homer of the game between the two teams. Smith finished the game with two runs knocked in while Nate finished with four hits, five runs scored and six RBIs.

GVSU’s single-season saves leader Matt Williams took the mound with a two-run lead. On a hitter’s day with the wind blowing out, Williams blew his second save of the season by giving up a solo home run followed by two RBI singles. In the early part of the season, Williams has already matched his total of blown saves from last season with two.

After the marathon second game, GVSU’s Ryan Arnold took the mound for the Lakers. Arnold gave the Lakers what they needed—a starter to go deep into the game.

“All my starts this year, I haven’t been able to go six, seven innings,” Arnold said. “I really wanted to go into the sixth or seventh inning because I haven’t done it yet and that’s what I’m used to doing.”

Arnold pitched a complete game of 7.1 innings with nine strikeouts and no walks, but suffered the tough-luck loss after giving up a walk-off solo home run.

Lead-off hitter Alex Young knocked in the only two runs in the game for the Lakers with a two-run home run in the third inning.

“It seemed like we found about every way in the book to lose a game in the first three so it was nice to get some things going and to win a game,” Detillion said.

After a quiet game for the GVSU offense, the Lakers bats came alive in the final game of the series.

Trailing by one run after the three innings, the Lakers exploded for five runs in the fourth and sixth innings to pull away from the Cavaliers. Connor Glick cracked his third home run of the season while driving in four runs.

“It was just all confidence for me, and I think that’s how it is for the whole team,” Glick said. “We can be really good when we want to be.”

Smith drove in two more runs for the Lakers while five other players recorded an RBI. With the win, the Lakers are now 12-9 with a 1-3 record in the GLIAC.

“I think we can definitely build off of it,” Glick said. “In the last game, there was a different tempo and different attitude we played with.”

The Lakers will have a quick turnaround with a home game Wednesday, March 29, at 3:30 p.m. against Lewis.