May 20th, 2013

Bellarmine run falls short in Sweet 16

John Spugnardi

Bellarmine University S.I.D.


Bellarmine run falls short in Sweet 16
BU pitcher Phil Forbis was the game one starter v. GVSU / photo from bellarmine.edu

The Bellarmine University baseball team fell just short in its quest of qualifying for the NCAA Division College World Series today with a 6-3 loss to Grand Valley State University in the final of the Midwest Region today at Meador Park.

Starting the day with the difficult task of having to defeat the Lakers twice to win the double elimination regional tournament, the Knights forced a second game by winning the opener 7-4.

In the championship game, the Lakers plated three runs in the bottom of eighth to seize control of a highly competitive game, and the Knights did not have an answer in the top of the ninth.

The Knights, who entered the region as the No. 6 seed, finish their season 33-23 with both a Great Lakes Valley Conference championship and an NCAA Sweet 16 on their resume.  Bellarmine closed out their season winning 10 of their final 13 games.

Grand Valley, the Midwest's No.3 seed, improves to 35-17 and advances to the DII College World Series in Cary, N.C. next week.

Bellarmine had five players voted onto the All-Tournament Team:  Nick Hladek, Catcher; Michael Morrissette, DH*; Graham Spencer, 2nd Base; Cole Metcalfe, 3rd Base; and Austin Crutcher, Outfield.  (Morrissette was voted in at designated hitter, but played 1st base the entire tournament).

The championship game see-sawed back and forth with Grand Valley taking a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first on a pair of singles and a walk.  Bellarmine answered with a run in the top of the second without the benefit of a hit as Philip Leopold walked, took second on a grounder, then advanced to third on a bad pickoff attempt by the pitcher. Cody Scheler's grounder knocked him in.

The Lakers inched back into the lead with a run in the third, but the Knights answered with two in the top of the fourth to take a 3-2 lead.  The GVSU pitcher entered the fourth frame with a no hitter, but Jes Staples led off with a single, and Austin Crutcher followed with a ground rule double to left. Leopold got a grounder to the right side to plate Staples, and a Cole Metcalfe single brought home Crutcher.

Grand Valley tied it in the bottom of the seventh when regional Most Valuable Player Jamie Potts doubled off the center field fence and advanced to third when Crutcher couldn't corral the carom off the wall. Potts would later score on sacrifice fly to right field to tie the game 3-3.

In the Knights' eighth inning Justin Eberenz led off with looper into right for a single and was advanced to second by a sacrifice bunt by Michael Morrissette. Eberenz was stranded at second as Laker pitcher Anthony Campanella got the next two outs.

The Lakers won the game with three runs in home half of the inning, connecting for four singles and a walk.

Offensive leaders for the Knights were Crutcher and Scheler with two hits apiece. Bellarmine used three Bellarmine pitchers with Jason Sterrett getting the start and going four innings on short rest and giving up two runs. Freshamn Evan McNair threw three and third and was charged with two earned runs, and Justin Stohmeier pitched the final two-thirds of an inning giving up an earned run.

GAME 1

The Knights forced the second game by breaking up a 4-4 tie with a 3-run eighth inning, banging out five hits and taking advantage of a Grand Valley error for the 3-spot.

Bellarmine took the lead early in the game when Morrissette led off the game with a single to left, and after getting moved to second on a Staples' grounder, came around to score on Leopold's single to center.

After the Lakers tied it with a run in the fourth, Spencer answered in the bottom half of the inning with a 3-run homer to left—his  third home run of the regional—to put Bellarmine back in the lead.

Game one leaders for the Knights were Morrissette with a 4-for-5 game, and Crutcher, Hladek and Spencer all collecting a pair of hits.

Phil Forbis got the start in game one working four innings and giving up just one run.  Kyle Grana relieve in the fifth and pitched three innings, surrendering three runs.  Strohmeier picked up the win by going the final two innings without giving up a run.

 

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