Grand Valley State pulls away from Franklin Pierce 10-3 to survive
CARY, N.C. -- Grand Valley State picked up another huge victory on Wednesday, beating Franklin Pierce 10-3 to keep its season going at the USA Baseball National Training Complex in the NCAA Division II Baseball Championship.
GVSU moved to 37-18 overall, while the Ravens finished their season at 37-19 overall. The Lakers will now face off against Tampa on Thursday. GVSU will have to defeat Tampa twice, once on Thursday and once on Friday, to move on in the tournament. The Spartans are one of two undefeated teams left in the tournament, including Minnesota State-Mankato.
The Lakers got the scoring started in the bottom of the second, getting a lead-off single from senior Chris Rudenga. Sophomore Jesse Abel then laid down a sacrifice bunt, but reached first anyway when the throw from the pitcher pulled the first baseman off the bag. With two on, another successful bunt moved both runners in to scoring position and junior Stuart Eisler put GVSU on the board with a single in to left field.
Franklin Pierce answered in a big way in the next half inning, using three hits and a Laker error to push three across and take the 3-1 lead.
That lead was short-lived, however, as the Lakers responded with their own big inning in the bottom of the third. Senior Stephen Claypool led off the frame with a double, then came in to score when sophomore Kevin Zak bounced a chopper back up the middle to make it a 3-2 game. After a walk to junior Giancarlo Brugnoni, a sacrifice bunt moved both runners in to scoring position. A wild pitch brought Zak in as the tying run and Rudenga dropped a single in front of the right fielder to give GVSU a 4-3 lead.
The scoring didn't stop there, as Abel hit a long fly ball to center field that made the fielder turn his back to the plate, but the ball beat him to the warning track, ending up in a triple for Abel and a 5-3 lead for the Lakers. The final tally in the five-run inning was a sacrifice fly by junior Taylor Banks that brought Abel in to score and gave GVSU a 6-3 advantage after three complete innings.
The lead got extended in the bottom of the sixth, when Brugnoni hit a two-run, two-out double to straight-away center field with runners on the corners to make it an 8-3 game.
GVSU tallied two more runs in the bottom of the eighth on a pinch-hit RBI double from junior Chris Ripple and a sacrifice fly from Rudenga to make it 10-3.
Redshirt freshman Patrick Kelly (8-3) got the victory on the mound with seven strong innings of work, surrendering seven hits and three runs with three strikeouts. Senior Kyle Zegarac and freshman Russell Griffin combined for two innings of shutout relief to end the game.
Zak led the way at the plate, going 3-for-5 with two runs and an RBI. Brugnoni was only 1-for-1 with two runs and two RBIs, but reached base in all five plate appearances, walking three times and getting hit by a pitch once. Rudenga finished 2-for-4 with two runs and two RBI, while Abel went 2-for-3 with a run and RBI and Eisler was 2-for-4 with an RBI. Claypool scored every time he was on base, going 2-for-4 with three runs and a walk. After collecting 17 hits in the victory against Shippensburg on Monday, the Lakers got 15 hits from the offense on this day, including five players with multiple hits. All nine players in the starting lineup got a hit on Monday, while eight of the nine starters tallied a hit against the Ravens.
"Any time you win a game here it is a huge victory. Kelly threw a great game for us. He kept throwing strikes and did his job in putting the ball in play. We have to cut down on the mistakes against Tampa, but we also have to stay loose and have fun and not get too tense," head coach Jamie Detillion said.
GVSU is 1-3 all-time against Tampa, with all four meetings coming in the last five years. The Lakers beat the Spartans 11-4 on Tampa's home field back in 2009.