The Grand Valley baseball team hasn’t had a plethora of leads to deal with so far this season. Thursday afternoon, the Mustangs got one early, but saw Ledgemont erupt for 4 runs in the fifth inning to claim a 10-8 Northeastern Athletic Conference victory.
Both pitchers settled in after that first frame, in which both teams tallied 5 times, leading to the top of the fifth with GV (2-13, 2-7) on top, 7-5.
“Once Logan (Sines) settled in after that first inning, he did a nice job until the fifth,” GV coach Russ Bell said. “Then he started leaving some pitches up in the strike zone and Ledgemont really hit the ball.”
Winning pitcher Tyler Kepes (3-1) got things going for the Redskins with a sharp single to left. Devon Rupinski followed with a hooking shot down the right field line that barely eluded GV right fielder Anthony Crum. After Mike McKeon ripped a grounder to short that could not advance the runners, Steve Conklin lined a single to right for the game-knotting run.
Justin Young drilled a grounder right back up the middle to make it 9-7 in favor of Ledgemont (3-3, 3-3 in NAC).
“I was worried in the beginning,” Ledgemont coach Tom Gephart said. “He had some early problems. This was his second game this week, after beating Lordstown earlier, but he settled down and we got some timely hits late in the game to get the lead. Kyle Sudnick came in and did a great job in relief, too. Those 2 guys are our best pitchers, so we needed them to step up today.”
GV cut short early Redskin aspirations of a blowout. A Crum walk and stolen base, a hit batsman and double by Jeff Johnson tallied a run.
Jacob Kocab drilled a single for 2 more, and a dropped fly ball in left field brought home 2 more to end the first inning at 5-5.
With the bases jammed and 2 down in the Mustang second, the second error for the Redskins, a booted grounder at shortstop, led to 2 runs and a 7-5 GV edge.
It stayed that way until the Ledgemont fifth. Sines had been sharp after being the victim of his own wildness and 5 stolen bases by the Redskins in the first inning. He had no problems until that fifth, though, and Ledgemont tallied again in the sixth and the Mustangs made it exciting in the 7th by scoring once and leaving runners on second and third to end the game.
“As I said, Logan settled in nicely until that fifth inning,” Bell said. “He got his pitches up early, and when it happened in the fifth, they really tagged his strikes. It was just one of those games. We’re so young, so getting to play several games this week is helping us to grow as a team. Right now, our inexperience in some situations is hurting us, and the only way to fix it is to be playing.”
Both teams had solid offensive and defensive efforts. Beside going 4.2 innings on the mound to earn his third win, Kepes also ripped 3 hits and scored twice. Rupinski also scored twice, Mike McKeon drove home 3 with his first inning single and a long sacrifice fly in the sixth, and Conklin tallied a pair with 2 hits. Sudnick and Kepes each stole a pair of bases in that first inning, too.
Kocab had a big game with the aluminum for GV with 3 hits and 2 RBIs and 2 runs scored. Crum reached base 3 times with a walk, single, and fielders choice on a superb play by Rupinski at third. His play in right field, especially when the wind picked up late in the game, kept the Redskins from mounting further attacks, but the fifth inning did the damage.
Kelly is a freelance writer from Jefferson.