GVSU wins three of four at Maryville Baseball Invite

GVL / Emily Frye
Zach Anderson

GVL / Emily Frye Zach Anderson

Josh Peick

After dropping two of three games in its 2016 season-opening series, the Grand Valley State baseball team rattled off three straight wins in the Maryville Baseball Invite the following weekend. The Lakers (4-3) won the first two games over Drury University and Winona State, 7-2 and 8-4, and throttled Maryville University 14-3 in the back end of a Saturday doubleheader. GVSU’s lone loss in the weekend came in a 3-2 drop against Maryville on Feb. 29.

In the opening game of the invite against Drury (2-5), the Lakers gave up two runs in the top of the first inning — a trend that has plagued the team in the early part of the season. In GVSU’s previous series, it let up a total of 14 first-inning runs in three games.

But, unlike last series, the Lakers regrouped and fought back after the early deficit.

GVSU starting pitcher Troy Dykhuis was tagged for the two first-inning runs, but settled down to throw shutout ball over the next six innings. Dykhuis finished the game with four strikeouts, earning his first win of the season.

The GVSU offense wasted no time putting runs on the board, responding in the bottom of the first with a run. The Lakers added another run in the third inning, and three more in the fourth to take a 5-2 lead. After the fourth inning, the Lakers added some insurance with a run in the sixth and eighth innings, both produced from the bat of junior Keith Browning.

The Lakers ran into some trouble in the top of the eighth inning, as Drury loaded the bases with no outs. GVSU closer Matt Williams was called out of the bullpen an inning early and slammed the door, recording three straight outs to stop the threat. Williams then finished off the last inning to earn his second save of the season.

In the opener of a doubleheader the next day against Winona State (2-5), the Lakers grabbed an early lead and never looked back. Through the first eight innings, GVSU led by as many as eight runs, which was more than enough for starting pitcher Zach Anderson. Anderson threw eight innings, holding Winona State scoreless while striking out six.

“I was able to use all three pitches, fastball, changeup and curveball, in good sequences to get outs late in the game,” Anderson said.

After a rocky first outing of the season in which Anderson was chased from the mound after just two innings, the senior found himself in more acceptable form.

“That’s what we expect of him,” said GVSU head coach Jaime Detillion. “He’s a good pitcher and he had a lot of good outings last year.”

Anderson earned the win in a dazzling performance, as he was able to slow down the game and pitch at his pace.

“For the first start, my thought was get through five, six, seven innings,” Anderson said. “Today I felt more like throwing the pitch you want to throw right now, get it across, get a strike and move on to the next pitch.”

The Lakers hit a speed bump in the ninth inning, giving up four runs in the frame. The late surge from the Warriors was not enough to complete the comeback.

In the latter half of the doubleheader, the Laker offense feasted on Maryville’s pitching. Through five innings, GVSU led 11-0. Browning belted a three-run home run in the fifth, giving him six RBIs for the weekend.

Through six games on the season, Browning has a .364 batting average with 10 RBIs. If the offseason painted any rust on Browning, he’s yet to show it.

“It goes into what we do in the cages every day,” Browning said. “I’ve been just trying to see the ball because if I’m seeing the ball in the cages, when we step out on the field, I’m going to perform better.”

The rest of the game went much like the first five innings. GVSU scored three more runs after giving up three for a 14-3 victory.

The Lakers’ three wins were much-needed after a tough opening weekend.

“We’re just getting a little bit more comfortable and guys are taking better swings at better pitches,” Detillion said.

GVSU will look to continue the success during the six-game trip down to Florida that spans March 8-14. GVSU’s first game of the trip will come against the University of Tampa.