GVSU baseball splits four-game series with Tiffin

GVL / Luke Holmes - Anthony Villar (17) steps up to the plate. GVSU Men’s Baseball played a double-header against Tiffin University on Saturday, April 1, 2016.

Luke Holmes

GVL / Luke Holmes – Anthony Villar (17) steps up to the plate. GVSU Men’s Baseball played a double-header against Tiffin University on Saturday, April 1, 2016.

Josh Peick

In the GLIAC home-opener, the Grand Valley State baseball team bashed eight home runs in four games but still split against Tiffin. The Lakers dropped the first and last games 6-4 and 8-3 and won the two games in between 15-4 and 9-5.

In the first game, The Lakers gave up four runs in the fifth inning to trail by three runs. Seth Johnson cut into the Dragons’ lead with a two-run home run in the sixth inning.

In the ensuing inning, Tiffin scored two more runs to jump ahead by three runs again. Johnny Nate hit a solo home run in the final frame, but the Lakers were unable to score anymore runs.

“We hung around and competed late in the game, but we just couldn’t get the big pitch or the big hit when we needed to,” said GVSU coach Jamie Detillion.

In the second game, the Lakers jumped out to an early 7-1 lead after a six-run third inning. Brody Andrews, Alex Young and Josh Smith all hit RBI singles in the frame.

“The first game we were really passive at the plate,” Johnson said. “The second game we were really aggressive, getting pitches that we were able to hit and took swings at them.”

The seven runs were more than enough for starting pitcher Ryan Arnold, who pitched a 5.1 innings giving up three earned runs.

The Lakers scored three more runs in the fifth inning followed by a two-run home run by Andrews in the sixth inning.

“A lot of it had to do with my approach,” Andrews said. “I really tried to focus staying up the middle and seeing the ball as deep as I could. When I’m doing that and I try to use all fields, I can really square the ball up.”

In the first game of the Sunday doubleheader, the Lakers scored all nine of their runs via the long ball. Smith started things off with a solo home run in the third inning. Anthony Villar followed suit with a two-run home run in the next inning.

Andrews stayed hot at the plate with a grand slam in the fifth inning. The Lakers were down two runs before Andrews reclaimed the lead with one swing of the bat. He finished the weekend with four hits, seven RBIs, two home runs and four runs scored.

“After a few pitches, I realized they were just going to keep throwing me curveball after curveball,” Andrews said. “I finally waited until he put one up, and once he did, I was able to catch it pretty well.”

Ladoux put the game out of reach with a two-run home run in the sixth inning. The home run ball would not be enough in the last game of series.

“It’s a double-edged sword,” Andrews said. “It’s fun while it’s happening, but we definitely need to bear down and be able to make adjustments, be able to manufacture runs when we need to and not rely on the home run.”

The Lakers trailed 3-0 after the first two innings before Johnson cracked his second home run of the series in the fourth inning, driving in two runs. Johnson finished the weekend with seven hits, five RBIs and four runs scored.

In the next frame, the Dragons scored three runs to take a four-run lead heading into the last half of the game. Johnson drove one run in the eighth inning with a single, but Tiffin added two more runs in the ninth inning to win 8-3.

“It’s easier said than done, but that’s one thing we are really struggling with right now is consistency game to game,” Detillion said. “We’re present for one game, and then we’re nonexistent for the second game.”

The Lakers will have a week to find that consistency before hosting Ohio Dominican in a pair of doubleheaders starting Saturday, April 8, at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. and concluding Sunday, April 9, at the same times.