Baseball rallies to 21-6 victory over Wayne State in GLIAC Championship game

GVL / Robert Mathews
GVSU vs. Tiffen

Robert Mathews

GVL / Robert Mathews GVSU vs. Tiffen

Brady Fredericksen

Grand Valley State University sophomore Giancarlo Brugnoni’s ninth inning home run looked like it could be a story book finish for the baseball team in Saturdays GLIAC Tournament championship game.

But then Wayne State University came out in the bottom of the inning and Alex Trojan’s RBI single through the right side won the game 4-3 for the Warriors, putting the Lakers in a win-or-go-home scenario in game two.

Any pressure from the early Wayne State victory wasn’t apparent in their play as the Lakers (41-14, 27-9 GLIAC) throttled Wayne State (34-19, 21-13 GLIAC), piling up 22 hits in the 21-6 victory.

“There was a lot of motivation, and after we lost that first game, all we could say is just how bad we wanted to bury Wayne State,” Brugnoni said. “We wanted to send them home.”

GVSU got on the board early and often in game two, scoring nine runs in the first two innings and chasing Wayne State starter Kirk Stambaugh after just 1/3 of an inning. Freshman outfielder Mike Nadratowski set the pace for the Lakers from the lead-off spot, going 5-for-6 with three runs scored.

Brugnoni, who was named tournament MVP for his play throughout the week, chipped in on Saturday with a grand slam, giving him seven RBI on the day.

“We came out ready for the second game, we put up a lot of runs and our bats were on fire in that second game,” Whitney said. “We had a lot of guys contribute, it was a team effort, guys were seeing the ball real well and it kind of clicked for us in the second game.”

Senior Chris Whitney, not one of the Lakers’ usual pitchers in the starting rotation, got the win on the mound in the clincher. The righty went five innings, allowing four runs (three earned) to go with one strikeout.

“When you play your fifth game in four days, you‘re going to use up some pitchers and certainly don‘t want guys coming back on short rest,” Lyon said. “One of our strengths is the depth of our pitching staff, and Chris was outstanding all last year. We needed a big start out of him and he gave us five, solid innings – big win for Chris, big win for us.”

The win marked the seventh in the last nine years for GVSU, and gave head coach Steve Lyon another GLIAC championship in this, his farewell season.

“One of the things (Lyon) said to us when he told us he was retiring was, ‘I don’t want you guys to think anything different, I just want you to just play your game,’” Brugnoni said. “We definitely played our game, and it’s always good to get him those final wins – especially in his last season here.”

GVSU will enter the NCAA Midwest Regional Tournament the No. 2 seed in the Midwest region and will face off against the No. 5 seeded Rockhurst University in Kansas City.

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