GVSU splits fifth straight doubleheader against Saginaw Valley State

GVL / Luke Holmes -  Josh Smith (9) nails a double. GVSU Mens Baseball faced off against Ohio Dominican in a double header on Saturday, April 8, 2017.

Luke Holmes

GVL / Luke Holmes – Josh Smith (9) nails a double. GVSU Men’s Baseball faced off against Ohio Dominican in a double header on Saturday, April 8, 2017.

Josh Peick

In mid-April, the Grand Valley State baseball team seemed to hit a stride winning seven of eight games against Ashland and Lake Erie. Since then, the Lakers have split five consecutive doubleheaders, including a split against rival Saginaw Valley State Friday, May 5.

The Lakers beat the Cardinals in the first game 5-1 but dropped the second in a close 7-6 game.

“It’s been the story of our season: We split everything it seems like,” said GVSU coach Jamie Detillion. “We are in the last series of the year, and you would like to see a lot of little things that you picked up along the way, got better at, made strides with show up on the scoreboard at the end of the day. It just didn’t happen the second game.”

In the first contest, starting pitcher Ryan Arnold got into trouble in the top of the first inning, allowing two hits and a walk, which resulted in one run for the Cardinals.

“Early on, I was struggling with command,” Arnold said. “I just zoned in and started keeping the ball down, and the defense played well behind me.”

After the first inning, Arnold pitched a nearly flawless six innings to record a complete game. He did not allow a hit the rest of the game while giving up only one walk.

The outing marked Arnold’s fourth consecutive quality start where he pitched at least six innings giving up one run or fewer.

“I think confidence is a big key,” Arnold said. “Just compiling each start and going off it.”

With inconsistencies on the mound for the Lakers in the past few weeks, Arnold has been a steady hand during the final stretch of the season.

“He makes adjustments well,” Detillion said. “In just about all of those starts, he has had a rough first inning out of the bullpen, and he does a great job adjusting and competing.”

Arnold’s one run given up was more than enough for the Lakers’ offense. GVSU answered back in the second inning with an RBI double from Alex Young and an RBI single from Josh Smith.

Austin Ladoux tripled in the fifth inning to drive in another run before Young knocked in another run in the sixth inning.

The Lakers were unable to take the momentum from the first game into the second half of the twin bill.

Tate Brawley received the ball for the Lakers in the second game of the doubleheader. He cruised through five innings, but the GVSU offense did not score any runs either.

Brawley ran into trouble in the sixth inning and was pulled from the game before he was able to record an out. The Cardinals scored four runs in the inning and three more in the seventh inning.

The Lakers finally scored a couple of runs in the seventh inning, followed by three more in the eighth inning.

The Lakers headed into the bottom of the ninth down only two runs. Johnny Nate reached base with a one-out single followed by a base hit from pinch-hitter Cody Grice.

Josh Smith beat out a double-play ground ball to score one run and advance to second with two outs.

With the tying run on second base, Young flew out to the center fielder to end the game.

The loss marked the Lakers’ fifth consecutive doubleheader split with the GLIAC Tournament starting next week.

After hitting what seemed to be their perennial stride two weeks ago, the Lakers (29-19, 17-13) have slipped to the outside-looking-in in the Midwest Regional Tournament.

“I’m not sure much has changed at all,” Detillion said. “This is an uncharacteristic team that we’ve had here in my 15 years at Grand Valley. This has been a unique year.”

In the most recent rankings, the Lakers were ranked ninth in the region with the top eight teams advancing to the tournament. GVSU will likely need to win the GLIAC Tournament to find a spot in the playoffs.

The GLIAC Tournament will begin Thursday, May 11, with an opponent yet to be decided.