Grand Valley State cruises to title
Explosive offense leads Lakers to clinching victory
Normal, Ill. - Top-ranked Grand Valley State claimed a 13-5 victory against Wayne State on Sunday in the NCAA DII Midwest Regional title game at Corn Crib Stadium. GVSU improves to 52-3 on the year, while Wayne State closes its season with 35-21 mark. GVSU will be making its fifth NCAA DII Championship appearance since 2003 and will play the winner of the West Region in first-round action.
Wayne State scored first with with the help of a Laker error to take a 1-0 lead in the first inning. However, back-to-back singles from LF Steve Anderson and 1B Giancarlo Brugnoni, followed by a sacrifice bunt from SS Andrew Trepel put two Lakers in scoring position with one out. DH Torre Aguirre struck out, but C Jared Cowan singled sharply to right field to score Anderson and tie the game at 1-1.
Wayne State came back with three runs in the top of the third on a single, double, triple and another single to take a 4-1 lead.
However, the Lakers erupted for six runs on seven hits as 10 batters went to the plate in the bottom of the fourth. Brugnoni opened the inning with a sharp single to right, followed by a single to third off the bat of SS Andrew Trepel. Cowan doubled to left center to score both Brugnoni and Trepel. 3B Dan Ponegalek singled to center and moved to second on the throw home that was late and allowed Cowan to score and tie the game at 4-4.
Ponegalek went to third on a wild pitch and scored on double from RF Paul Young left center to give GVSU its first lead of the game, 5-4. Young went to third when the centerfielder bobbled the ball and CF Cody Grice reached on an infield single that scored Young from third.
LF Steve Anderson reached on a throwing error by the WSU shortstop that allowed Grice to go to third and Brugnoni, batting for the second time in the inning, hit another sharp liner to right to score Grice and give GVSU a 7-4 lead.
DH Torre Aguirre walked and Ponegalek double down the leftfield line in the bottom of the fifth, followed by a two-run single to center from Normal, Ill. native Cory Phillips. Phillips stole second and came home on Grice's fourth hit of the day, a single to center. Anderson kept the hit parade going with a double to left that scored Grice from first to give the Lakers an 11-4 lead.
Following a two hour delay due to severe weather, Ponegalek opened the bottom of the seventh with a single and went to second on a throwing error by the WSU shortstop. Ponegalek moved to third on a passed ball and Phillips walked, followed by a double down the right field line by Grice, his fifth hit of the game, that scored Ponegalek. Anderson reached on fielder's choice that scored Phillips to up the GVSU lead to 13-4. Wayne State scored its fifth run in the top of the ninth for the final score of 13-3.
GVSU junior Chris Whitney came in for starter Bill Maple in the third with two outs and and runners on second and third, but he retired WSU's Alex Trojan on a groundout to get out of the inning. Whitney, who improved to 5-0 on the year, yielded just one unearned run and three hits in 6.1 innings of work.
Eight Lakers recorded hits in the game, including four with three hits and one with two hits. GVSU tallied five doubles and a triple. Cody Grice was 5-for-5 with a double, a triple and three RBI, . Cowan was 3-for-4 with a double and three RBI, while Giancarlo Brugnoni and Dan Ponegalek were each 3-for-5. Ponegalek scored three runs and drove in one.
Grice recorded a career-high five-hit outing, while Cowan tied a career-high with three hits.