GVSU baseball splits four-game series against Ashland

GVL / Sheila Babbitt
Pitcher, Noah Lamboley, pitches at the game against Ashland on April 12th, 2018.

GVL / Sheila Babbitt Pitcher, Noah Lamboley, pitches at the game against Ashland on April 12th, 2018.

Kellen Voss

The Grand Valley State men’s baseball team split a weekend series against the Ashland Eagles on Thursday, April 12, and Friday, April 13.

The contests were supposed to be played Friday, April 13, and Saturday, April 14, but they were moved up a day due to the freezing rain.

Thursday, April 12: Game one

It was clear skies with 55-degree weather, almost the perfect setup for a Thursday doubleheader with Ashland. Despite the warm weather, the GVSU baseball team came out cold in the first, losing 6-2.

The Eagles were able to score in bunches, posting five runs in the third and fourth innings after only one run in the first. The bats came alive all around the Ashland lineup, as Austin Elfrid, Carson Mittermaier and Greg Ludwig combined for six hits, five RBIs and four runs scored in the contest.

GVSU struggled to hit the ball all day long. The Lakers were held scoreless for the first six innings and only recorded three hits on the day. The lone runs of the day came in the seventh and final innings, as Alex Mandeville drove in Josh Smith on a single before being driven in himself by Zach Berry.

GVSU starting pitcher Ryan Arnold picked up his first loss of the season in the game. He gave up seven hits and four earned runs in six innings of work, gaining four more strikeouts. With the loss, Arnold still possesses an impressive 5-1 record on the year.

Thursday, April 12: Game two

The GVSU offense finally woke up in the second game, effectively bouncing back to beat Ashland 8-2. The bats exploded in the third inning, putting up four runs.

That offense, along with a few more runs down the stretch, was able to propel the Lakers to split the day with the Eagles. Mandeville scored on a wild pitch in the third inning, and singles from Smith, Ryan Blake-Jones, Austin LaDoux and Nolan Anspaugh helped give GVSU a commanding lead.

Seven Lakers got at least one hit in the game, lighting up the Ashland pitching staff for a stellar offensive performance. They also did well on the base paths, as Smith, Anspaugh and Jacob Gleason all stole a base in the contest.

Noah Lamboley picked up the win, improving to 2-1 on the year. He pitched a solid 5 2/3 innings, only giving up two earned runs and recording four strikeouts. Alex Licata closed the game for the Lakers and gained his first save of the year.

Friday, April 13: Game one

Game three of the four-game series was a roller coaster ride for GVSU. Playing in 40-degree weather with rain on the horizon, Ashland came back from being down 2-0 in the first to win 8-6.

The pitching trio of Travis Keys, Brendan Nearing and Kyle Lawson combined to give up eight earned runs on the day and allowed the Eagles to hit the ball nine times. Despite striking out Ashland 12 times as a staff, they still were not at the level they needed to be, and Lawson got his first loss of the year.

GVSU got off to a good start in the first, with Smith scoring on a wild pitch and LaDoux driving in Gleason on a bloop single. After that first inning, the Ashland offense stepped up to the plate and delivered, scoring five unanswered runs as the Lakers put themselves in a hole they could not dig out of.

GVSU did end up coming back to tie the game up 5-5 in the sixth, but the middle of Ashland’s lineup heated up, with Vince Vanata hitting what ended up being the game-winning single, driving in Mittermaier and Connor Barleban.

Friday, April 13: Game two

GVSU experienced a little bit of déjà vu on Friday because after losing the first game, they battled the adversity and came back to win the second game 10-4. GVSU shot down the Eagles from the jump, holding them scoreless in the first three innings while scoring six runs of their own, including five runs in the second inning.

Caleb Anspaugh got everything going with a double in the second that drove in two runs for the Lakers. Nolan Anspaugh, Smith, Gleason and LaDoux each had RBIs of their own. The back of the lineup must have eaten their Wheaties before the game, too, as Berry and Caleb Anspaugh combined for four hits and four RBIs from the sixth and eighth spots in the order.

Tate Brawley had the best pitching performance of the day for GVSU, tallying four earned runs, seven hits and eight strikeouts over seven solid innings of work.

He also made some highlight plays in the field, including a great catch on a line out that ended up taking the No. 3 spot on SportsCenter’s Top 10 Plays. This was his second time being featured on the Top 10 that week, as a similar catch earned him the No. 7 spot on the Top 10 highlight list Tuesday, April 10.

After the series, GVSU improves to 21-15 on the year, as well as 9-7 in conference play. They Lakers currently sit in third place in the standings, only one game behind Ashland and four games behind Northwood.

GVSU has a chance to improve their place in the standings next weekend, playing a four-game weekend series in Midland against Northwood. The game on Friday, April 20, starts at 4 p.m.; the doubleheader on Saturday, April 21, is at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m.; and the finale is set to start at noon on Sunday, April 22.