The SVSU baseball team opened GLIAC play by winning two of its first three games over host Davenport.
The fourth and final game of the series was played on Sunday and was still in progress when The Valley Vanguard went to print.
In the series opener on Friday, March 22, SVSU came from behind to beat the Panthers 7-5.
Trailing 5-2 in the top of the sixth, SVSU’s offense exploded for three runs to tie the game at five apiece.
The inning began with senior Adam Turner being hit by a pitch, and after freshman Anthony Kania singled to right field and sophomore Andrew Burke walked, the Cardinals had the bases loaded and one out. Senior Derrek Clyde then singled to center to score two, bringing the Cardinals within one. Two batters later, senior Jordan Swiss reached on a fielder’s choice, scoring Burke and tying the game.
The game remained tied until the top of the ninth, when SVSU loaded the bases with no outs. Turner was then hit by a pitch, scoring Swiss, and junior Gerrit Eding hit a sacrifice fly to center, scoring junior Joshua Riggs to give the Cardinals a 7-5 advantage.
Swiss, who has played both in the field and on the mound this season, pitched the bottom of the ninth.
After giving up a leadoff double, Swiss got three consecutive outs to end the game and seal the win for SVSU.
“I really enjoy the mix of pitching and being a position player,” Swiss said. “For me, the most important aspect is keeping my arm healthy, and I’ve been able to do that this season.”
At the plate, Clyde had two RBIs, and Kania had two hits to pace the Cardinal offense. SVSU batters also walked eight times in the game.
SVSU starting pitcher Amani Godfrey threw three innings and allowed four runs, none of which were earned, as his own throwing error in the bottom of the third led to four Panther runs.
Godfrey was relieved by junior Alex Millhisler, who threw three strong innings, allowing just two hits, one run and striking out two.
“It felt really good for me to come in relief and keep my team in a position to win the game,” Millhisler said. “We’ve all been
working really hard, and it’s starting to show.”
Freshman John Fantauzzo earned the win on the mound after throwing the seventh and eighth innings for SVSU, and Swiss recorded his second save of the season.
In the second game of the series, played on Saturday, March 23, it was Davenport who earned a come-from-behind win over SVSU.
After the Cardinals took a 5-1 lead into the bottom of the fourth, the Panthers closed out the game with eight unanswered runs and took the game 9-5.
Several of Davenport’s hits during the comeback were soft ground balls or popups that were well-placed and prevented the Cardinals from getting out of multiple jams unscathed.
“I thought we did a lot of good things,” head coach Steve Jaksa said. “Honestly, I thought we played pretty good. We pitched it well enough, but they made some plays and they ended up getting the W.”
Clyde, Riggs, Turner and Eding all had hits early, but the SVSU offense mustered just two hits over the final four innings of the game.
SVSU starter Brandon Wise took the loss on the mound, pitching four-and-two-thirds innings, allowing seven hits and six runs. He struck out two and walked four.
The Cardinals answered in Saturday’s second game with an offensive explosion as they won a slugfest over Davenport 13-9.
“It feels great to get off to a good start in conference play,” Swiss said. “These two wins versus Davenport are huge for us.”
SVSU scored one in the first, six in the third, two in the fifth, three in the sixth and one in the seventh.
Turner had two hits and scored two runs for the SVSU, while seven other Cardinals had one hit apiece.
Starting pitcher Kyle Henigan picked up his second win of the season on the mound for SVSU, throwing four strong innings allowing five hits and two runs.
“The bounce back win really felt good,” Jaksa said. “… As we continue to play I think we’re going to keep getting better. Guys are playing hard.”
The Cardinals now travel to Hillsdale on Tuesday for a single game before hosting Grand Valley in its GLIAC home opener over the weekend.
The two teams will play one game Friday, March 29, two games Saturday, March 30, and one game Sunday, March 31.