Thursday, May 23, 2024

Baseball team splits doubleheader

April 4, 2001
Sophomore shortstop Charlie Braun takes off after a bunt in the first game of a doubleheader against Saginaw Valley State on Tuesday at Kobs Field. The Spartans split the series, losing 9-2 in the first game but taking the second game 4-1

Head baseball coach Ted Mahan saw a reflection of the team’s entire season Tuesday at Kobs Field.

The Spartans (13-12) split a doubleheader with Saginaw Valley State, losing the first game 9-2 and rallying to win the second 4-1.

“One good; one bad - 13-12 - that’s what we’ve done all year,” Mahan said.

The “good” showcased a Spartan team putting runs on the board, making plays defensively, and pitching well.

After four shutout innings from freshman starter Bryan Gale, he yielded one run in the top of fifth.

Mahan said Gale’s performance on the hill was nothing new from the rookie hurler.

“It was outstanding,” Mahan said, “He can just flat out pitch.”

With the win, Gale upped his record to 3-0 and maintained a team-leading 1.61 ERA.

Facing the 1-0 deficit, freshman left fielder James Moreno led off the bottom half of the fifth frame with a homer to deep left-center field, evening-up the score.

After a ground ball out by freshman first baseman Scott Koerber, junior third baseman Troy Bergman, junior second baseman Don Watchowski, sophomore right fielder Brett Wattles, junior shortstop Jared Koutnik and sophomore center fielder Bob Malek all consecutively singled.

Wattles’ single scored Bergman, and Malek’s brought home Watchowski.

Sophomore catcher Brady Burrill’s sacrifice fly and tag-up from Wattles gave the Spartans more insurance than they needed.

The fifth inning Spartan rally keyed around Moreno’s solo shot.

“The second game Moreno picked us with a home run, and we had some enthusiasm,” Malek said.

“The home run by Moreno was the biggest hit of the game and of the day,” Mahan said.

Moreno realized his home run helped spark a sputtering Spartan offense.

“After one hit, if everyone’s picking each other up, it can lead to six or seven more hits,” he said.

“Then you win the game, and in the second game it was huge.”

Moreno had only appeared at the plate 21 times this season, and responded to the chance to play.

“I was given a shot today, and I just got in there and took my hacks,” Moreno said. “I was just going up there looking for fast balls and hitting them.”

A hitless sixth inning thrown by junior reliever Nick Bates allowed for the Spartans to call for their closer, junior Domanick Squires, in the seventh for the save.

The Spartans defense, led by Koerber and Wattles, rebounded from a rough first game.

Koerber covered a lot of ground at first base in both games.

An over-the-shoulder basket catch, a diving tag, and a lunging grab over the firstbase line fence impressed Mahan.

“He (Koerber) is a very talented defender,” Mahan said.

In the opener of the two-game set, the Spartans committed five errors.

Mahan said the 9-2 loss was “one of the worst games I think I’ve ever seen us play.”

The five Spartan errors led to four Saginaw Valley State runs.

Junior John Huizinga picked up the loss for the Spartans, dropping his record to two wins and two losses.

“The first game we didn’t come out to play,” Wattles said. “We didn’t execute during one opportunity in the first game.”

The Spartans open up a four-game stretch at Minnesota Friday with senior Scott Brandell taking the mound.

Junior Kyle Geswein will start the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader, with the decision of the other two starters pending, Mahan said.

Malek said the team’s late-inning performance in Tuesday’s second game will need to carry over to the weekend.

“If we don’t play like we did from the fifth inning on in today’s (second) game, we’re in trouble,” he said.

“We have to play that well to beat Minnesota, because they’re going to be a good team and ready to play.”

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