GVSU holds on against Missouri-St. Louis, advances to Super Regional
ALLENDALE, Mich. -- In what turned out to be a terrific regional championship game, No. 9 Grand Valley State held on for a 2-1 victory against No. 22 Missouri-St. Louis on Sunday afternoon in Allendale. The Lakers scored two runs in the top of the sixth inning on a two-run double from junior Miranda Cleary and used a pair of pitchers to clinch the regional championship victory. GVSU advances to next weekend's NCAA Super Regional in Indianapolis, Ind.
These two teams met on Saturday morning, as GVSU defeated the Tritons by a 4-0 final. UMSL worked its way through the loser's bracket to face Grand Valley State on Sunday, but would need to defeat the Lakers twice due to the double elimination format. Grand Valley State needed just one win and the Lakers took care of business late in Game 1.
With the win, GVSU improves to 42-6 on the season. The 42 wins are the eighth-most in school history for the back-to-back GLIAC regular season champions. Missouri-St. Louis, the GLVC Tournament champs, ends the year with a 41-13 record.
GVSU head coach Doug Woods started senior Hannah Santora, a First Team All-GLIAC selection, in the circle, while Missouri-St. Louis threw sophomore Brittni Chapman. She entered with a 17-6 record, but the Tritons did not employ freshman Hannah Perryman, the GLVC Pitcher of the Year. The Lakers touched up Perryman for three runs on four hits in the first three innings of Saturday's game.
On Sunday, Santora and Chapman put a bunch of zeroes on the scoreboard. Grand Valley State threatened in the top of the first inning (UMSL won the coin toss and was the home team) by putting a pair of runners on base. Briauna Taylor reached on a one-out infield single and moved to third on a two-out infield base hit by Emily Jones. Missouri-St. Louis got out of the jam when Triton third baseman Mckenzie Halstead snared a line drive hit by senior Kayleigh Bertram to end the threat.
UMSL pushed a runner to third base with two outs in the first inning before Santora closed the inning with a groundball out. The Lakers again put runners on the corners in the third inning with two outs before Chapman induced a groundball to get out of the jam.
The Tritons appeared set to score the game's first run in their at-bat in the third inning. UMSL used consecutive singles to start the frame, but Santora fanned Jena Boudreau for the first out. On the very next pitch, Ashleigh King hit a groundball to Cleary at third base. Cleary turned and stepped on the bag, then fired across the field for the inning-ending double play.
Santora stranded two runners on base in the fourth inning by getting a popup for the final out of the stanza and kept the game scoreless. GVSU's next good scoring opportunity did not come until the sixth inning. With one out, senior Katie Martin, who had been intentionally walked in her previous at-bat, walked on four pitches. That was followed by a sharp single to right center from Jones that pushed Martin to third base.
Two batters later, after Jones moved to second to put two runners in scoring position, Cleary drilled a pitch to right center field that was veering to the right due to the windy conditions. The UMSL right fielder was able to barely get a glove on the ball before it fell to the ground. Cleary raced into second base with a double, as Martin and Jones both scored to put the Lakers ahead, 2-0. The base hit came with two outs, a common theme for GVSU all weekend. Seven of the eight Laker runs against Ferris State on Friday came with two outs, while three of the four runs versus Missouri-St. Louis on Saturday were with two outs. All told, 12 of Grand Valley State's 14 runs during the weekend came with two outs.
Missouri-St. Louis would not give in, however, as the Tritons recorded three consecutive singles to start the bottom of the sixth inning. The third single hit off the fence along the left field line to bring UMSL within a run at 2-1. Woods inserted freshman Sara Andrasik into the game for Santora. Andrasik, the 2013 GLIAC Freshman of the Year, had not pitched all weekend, as Santora had tossed the previous 19 innings.
Andrasik retired the first out on a sacrifice bunt that put two Tritons in scoring position. She then struck out Katie Schultz in a six-pitch at-bat and forced a popup to end the UMSL threat and keep the lead at 2-1.
It was still a one-run game in the bottom of the seventh inning. Leadoff hitter Katie Rutledge walked, but Andrasik retired the next three batters on a swinging strikeout, a popup, and a lineout to first baseman Tonya Calkins to end the game and clinch the regional title.
Santora improves to 24-2 on the season, as the senior went five innings and allowed one run on eight hits. Andrasik tossed a pair of hitless innings, allowing just one baserunner, while picking up her second save of the year. Both Santora and Andrasik struck out two hitters. For UMSL, Chapman's line read seven innings, seven hits, two runs, a pair of walks, and two strikeouts.
Jones was the lone Laker with more than one hit, as the senior went 2-for-3. Cleary's extra base hit was the only one of the game. In fact, the GVSU pitchers did not give up an extra base hit the entire weekend.
GVSU is now 31-20 in NCAA tournament play, as the Lakers are in the regional tournament for the 11th time in school history. Grand Valley State has now advanced to the regional championship game (or series) six times: 2002 (national runner-up finish), 2003, 2004, 2007, 2011, and 2013.