March 24, 2009

By Amy Farnum Novin

LIFE IS GRAND: Grand Valley State rose to No. 1 in the latest Collegiate Baseball Division II poll for the first time in school history after putting together a 21-2 mark to open the season for the best start in program history. The Lakers went 5-0 last week led by rightfielder Cody Grice’s offensive production, and senior left-hander Andre Benjamin’s prowess on the mound. 

Grice batted .500 with a double, home run, seven runs scored and three RBI over the five contests, including a 3-for-4 outing and a solo homer in the first game of a doubleheader against Hillsdale on March 21.  The native of Lansing, Mich., was named Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Player of the Week for his contributions.

Benjamin tossed a complete-game four-hitter in a 4-0 victory against Hillsdale last Saturday, improving his season record to 4-0.  The native of Grand Ledge, Mich., fanned seven batters in the appearance, bumping his team-leading strikeout total to 31 in 28 innings pitched.  He received GLIAC Pitcher of the Week honors for his efforts.

The Lakers look to extend their 13-game winning streak at No. 12 Ashland in a GLIAC doubleheader on March 25.

MILLER TIME:  Minnesota State’s Danny Miller set a school record with 11 consecutive hits in the first three games against Northern State last weekend, surpassing the previous mark of 10 by Jason Pfingsten set in 1996.

The sophomore from Eden Prairie, Minn., batted .786 with two doubles, a home run and seven RBI as the Mavericks swept Northern State.  He was named Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference Player of the Week for his accomplishments.

The Mavericks have won six straight games, and currently are tied with Wayne State for first place in the NSIC standings after the first weekend of league play.

MILES AHEAD:  Nova Southeastern junior Miles Mikolas garnered Sunshine State Conference Pitcher of the Week honors after stifling then-No. 12 Tampa’s offense in a 5-1 complete-game victory last week.

The native of Jupiter, Fla., held the Spartans to seven singles while striking out 11 batters in the win.  Tampa had entered the series against the Sharks as the SSC leader in nine offensive categories.

The Sharks took two of three games from Tampa after beginning the week with a win over Franklin Pierce, and vaulted up 11 spots to No. 10 in the latest Collegiate Baseball Division II poll for their recent success.

EAGLE FLIES: Southern Indiana’s Alex Thieroff not only turned an incredible week at the plate for the Screaming Eagles, but capped off a four-game series versus Drury with a victory on the mound.

The senior third baseman batted .538 with five runs scored, six RBI, and a double, triple and home run during the Eagles’ 4-1 week.  In the series finale against Drury, the native of Greenfield, Ind., reached base four times and scored three runs, and pitched eight-plus innings to earn his first victory of the season.

The Eagles have won eight of their last nine games, and broke into the latest Collegiate Baseball Division II poll at No. 22 for their efforts.

NOTABLE: Mansfield head coach Harry Hillson recorded his 700th career victory with a 14-13 win against Wilmington University on March 18, becoming only the third head coach in Pennsylvania collegiate baseball history to reach the milestone.  He has coached the Mountaineers for 23 seasons … Merrimack freshman right-hander Chris Pinette tossed the first no-hitter in school history as he struck out three batters in a 4-0 victory against Philadelphia on March 21.  The Norwood, Mass., native retired the final 12 batters faced, and walked only one hitter in the outing.  He was named Northeast-10 Pitcher of the Week for his achievement.