WINTER HAVEN, Fla. – Wayne State was able to hold off a late rally by No. 15 Grand Valley State to preserve a 5-4 victory at the Russ Matt Central Florida Baseball Invitational. Pitcher Michael Frericks was key to the Wildcats’ success and improved to 1-1 on the season with the win, as he threw six innings of work while striking out 11 batters and allowed three earned runs. Wayne State improved to 6-5 on the season while Grand Valley State fell to 3-2 on the year.
The Wildcats got on the scoreboard first taking an early 1-0 lead in the top of the second inning. Brandon Lalk led the inning off with a triple to right center before Michael Herman grounded out to shortstop, but the hit was enough to bring Lalk across the plate. Pitcher Michael Frericks proceeded to dominate innings three, four and five as he struck out eight batters in the three inning span (three in the third and fourth innings and two in the fifth).
Wayne State pushed their advantage to 2-0 in the top of the sixth inning when CJ Nolen hit a sacrifice fly to left field, allowing Brett Keim to score. The Wildcats tacked on two more runs in the top of the seventh inning to bolster their lead to 4-0. Michael Herman led the inning off with a single to left field and later scored when catcher Kevin Andersen doubled to right center for the RBI. Andersen scored two batters later when Blake Brisson singled to right field.
Grand Valley State responded in the bottom of the seventh inning and exploded for three runs to pull within one run as they cut the deficit to 4-3. The Lakers loaded the bases and hit back-to-back singles to score their first two runs. With the bases still loaded, Trevor Reeves came in to relieve Michael Frericks on the mound while there were still no outs in the inning. Reeves walked the first batter he faced and then struck out the next two batters before getting a ground out to third to end the inning. Wayne State then loaded the bases in the top of the eighth inning and pushed across one run when Justin Beranek scored to give Wayne State a 5-3 lead in the contest.
The Wildcats were unable to score any insurance runs in the top of the ninth inning and brought in Nick Ragan for Trevor Reeves to close out the game. The Lakers wasted little time in the bottom of the ninth, chipping away at the WSC lead as Grand Valley State started off the inning with a single through the left side of the infield by Kevin Zak. Giancarlo Brugnoni then doubled down the left field line to score Zak from second base and cut Wayne State’s lead to 5-4. Ragan then used the defense behind him as Wayne State recorded three consecutive outs to finish the game.
Frericks led the Wayne State pitching staff, striking out 11 batters in six innings pitched. Frericks allowed 10 hits, three earned runs and walked two batters in the contest. Ragan recorded the save for the ‘Cats as he pitched the ninth inning to preserve the win. WSC was led at the plate by Lalk’s three hits while Brisson and Andersen each had two hits and Herman had one hit. Grand Valley State outhit Wayne State 14-8 in the game but the Lakers left 12 runners on base compared to only five for the ‘Cats.