Release courtesy of the GVSU Sports Information Department
Chillicothe, Ohio - For the seventh time in nine years, Grand Valley State is the champion of the GLIAC Baseball Tournament. After dropping the first championship game 4-3 in the bottom of the ninth, the Lakers trounced the Warriors with a dominating 21-6 performance in the winner-take-all final game.
In the first game, offense was at a premium early for the Lakers as Wayne State starter Kyle Zimmerman no-hit the Lakers through the first five innings. The Warriors brought single runs across in the bottom of the second and fourth innings to stake themselves to a 2-0 lead, but the Lakers were finally able to get to Zimmerman in the sixth.
The first GVSU hit of the game came courtesy of a bunt down the first base line by senior Zach Laupp (Mattawan, Mich.) and that was followed with a double deep in the right field corner by freshman Mike Nadratowski (Canton, Mich./Plymouth) to put two runners in scoring position with nobody out.
Senior Brian Robinson (Troy, Mich.) got the Lakers on the board with an RBI single to left field to cut the lead in half and redshirt freshman Kevin Zak (Novi, Mich.) tied the game with an RBI single of his own, knotting the contest up at two.
The Warriors again pushed a single run across in the bottom of the seventh to take a 3-2 lead and it took some dramatics in the ninth for GVSU to stay in the contest. With one out in the top of the ninth, sophomore Giancarlo Brugnoni (Grosse Pointe, Mich./De La Salle) launched a home run over the scoreboard to tie the game at three. The Lakers ended up putting a runner on third as the potential go-ahead run, but a fly out to left field ended the inning.
In the bottom half, Wayne State led off with a double, while a single a couple batters later put runners on the corners with one out. After an intentional walk loaded the bases to give hope for a force-out at all bases, Alex Trojan laced an RBI single through the right side for the 4-3 walk-off victory to force a decisive winner-take-all final game.
Robinson was the only Laker with multiple hits in the game, going 2-for-3. Nadratowski went 1-for-4 with a double and a run scored, while Zak and Brugnoni each had one hit and an RBI.
Starter Anthony Campanella (Carol Stream, Ill./Elgin C.C.) went seven innings on the mound, surrendering only four hits with two earned runs and five strikeouts. Senior Jacob Cox (Dowagiac, Mich./Lake Michigan College) absorbed the loss to fall to 3-1 on the season, allowing three hits and one run in 1.1 innings of relief.
In the winner-take-all final game, the Lakers imposed their will very early. After Wayne State took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first, GVSU's offense exploded immediately. Nadratowski led off the frame with a single, while Robinson walked and Zak doubled down the left field line to tie the game at one and put two runners in scoring position. After a walk to senior Steve Anderson (Northville, Mich.) loaded the bases, the biggest hit in the tourname came from Brugnoni, who crushed a home run in his second straight at-bat, this time a grand slam, off the scoreboard in left field for a 5-1 lead.
After setting down Wayne State in order in the top of the second, GVSU seemingly put the game out of reach with a huge seven-run inning in the bottom of the frame. The first five Lakers of the inning reached safely, making it a 7-1 game, and five more runs came in to give GVSU a 12-1 cushion with only two innings gone by.
The two teams exchanged runs in the middle portion of the game with the Warriors scoring five runs in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings, while GVSU matched that total with two in the bottom of the fourth and four in the fifth that included a two-RBI triple as the Lakers led 18-6 after six innings.
GVSU was able to push two more runs across in the bottom of the seventh and one in the bottom of the eighth, courtesy of a pinch-hit RBI single from senior pitcher Cory Rademacher (DeWitt, Mich.) to finally end the scoring at 21-6.
The Lakers set new season-highs in both runs (21) and hits (22), while Nadratowski set a season-high in hits in a single game for the Lakers this year with five, going 5-for-6 with three runs and two RBI, including his seventh double of the year.
The offense was abundant in the game for GVSU with six Lakers notching multiple hits. Brugnoni's grand slam helped aid him to a 2-for-3, six-RBI game with two runs and two walks. Robinson went 1-for-1 with four runs scored and three walks, reaching base in every plate appearance of the game. Zak finished 3-for-5 with four runs, three RBI and two walks, while Anderson went 3-for-5 with four runs and four RBI.
Senior Chris Whitney (Macomb, Mich./Kellogg C.C.) moved to 1-1 on the year with the win, working five innings, allowing six hits and three earned runs with one strike out.
Wayne State starter Kirk Stambaugh lasted only one out, surrendering four hits and five earned runs to take the loss.
Making the GLIAC Baseball All-Tournament Team from GVSU were Brugnoni (1B), Zak (SS), Nadratowski (OF), Anderson (OF) and freshman Jamie Potts (Muskegon, Mich./Oakridge) (DH). Brugnoni was named the tournament MVP after hitting three home runs, including the go-ahead grand slam in the championship game. Also being named to the team were catcher Cam Wiechmann (SVSU), 2B Andrew Ciennik (WSU), 3B Alex Trojan (WSU), OF Kasey Koster (WSU), P Mike Saunders (SVSU) and P Alex Pierse (WSU).
The Lakers, now 41-14 on the year, will await their NCAA Division II Midwest Regional fate on Sunday night, when the NCAA announces the regional seeds and host site. GVSU was ranked second in the most recent regional rankings.