Pitching leads to frigid success in midweek series

GVL / Robert Mathews
Senior Giancarlo Brugnoni (40) running to third base.

Robert Mathews

GVL / Robert Mathews Senior Giancarlo Brugnoni (40) running to third base.

Zach Sepanik

The No. 20 Grand Valley State University baseball team fed off six innings of a no-hit bid by senior pitcher Kyle Schepel in game one against Hillsdale University on Tuesday, leading to a doubleheader sweep of the Chargers at Laker Baseball Field.

The Lakers (22-10 overall, 12-6 GLIAC) continued their strong play on Wednesday with a doubleheader sweep of Northwood University, running their win streak to seven straight.

In game one on Tuesday, Schepel pitched 6.1 innings, tying a career-high with 10 strikeouts. He had a no-hitter through six innings, before Hillsdale’s junior right fielder Mike Vanchieri led off the seventh with a single. After getting the next batter to pop out, Schepel was relieved by junior Brad Zambron, who recorded two strikeouts to end the game, giving the Lakers a 4-0 victory.

“I just tried to throw strikes and get ahead of batters, and I felt like I battled all the way through,” Schepel said. “[After the hit] I just tried to keep pitching so it didn’t turn into anything bigger. I would have liked to get a no-hitter, but that is not my No. 1 goal. I am just trying to get a win for the team.”

An offensive outburst in the nightcap proved too much for the Chargers, as the Lakers earned a 12-1 win. Freshman center fielder Mike Nadratowski had three of the team’s 11 hits, also contributing three RBI, a run scored, and a stolen base. Senior outfielder Steve Anderson and junior right fielder Chris Rudenga each added two hits.

Meanwhile, senior Ryan Garman started and pitched five solid innings, giving up only three hits and striking out four.

“I just have a good feeling that we have turned the corner a little bit,” said GVSU head coach Steve Lyon. “Our whole pitching staff has pitched so well that we are always going to be in a game. The hitters just feel like they have to get a few runs for those guys and we will win our share, and that is what we have been doing.”

With the offense and pitching staff looking to be on the same page, the Lakers headed into Wednesday riding a wave of confidence. However, things started off bleak in game one against Northwood.

The Lakers headed into the bottom of the seventh with one final chance to overcome a 2-0 deficit. Senior catcher Jared Cowan and sophomore first baseman Giancarlo Brugnoni led off with back-to-back singles. Senior Blake Batteast, who pinch ran for Cowan and Brugnoni, would each score to tie the game at two.

Then, in the bottom of the eighth, senior left fielder Steve Anderson came up with the hit of the game, a leadoff triple. After two intentional walks, freshman designated hitter Jamie Potts singled to give the Lakers a 3-2 win.

“We couldn’t try to tie the game in one swing—just take it one pitch at a time,” Nadratowski said. “We did a good job of getting the first guy on. We are playing a lot better as a team and timely hits are coming around.”

Game two proved to be another grind it out game, with the Lakers coming out on top, 4-2. Junior Anthony Campanella provided another strong outing from the pitching staff, going six innings and only giving up four hits and one unearned run. Zambron also earned his eighth save of the season, striking out two in one inning of relief.

Nadratowski had two hits for the Laker offense and also chipped in an RBI. Rudenga, senior designated hitter Derrik Strzalkowski, junior second baseman Stephen Claypool and senior catch Zach Laupp, each scored a run and contributed one hit apiece in the winning effort.

GVSU will continue their home stretch with doubleheader contests against Tiffin University on Saturday and Sunday.

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