The 15th-ranked Grand Canyon University baseball team rallied in the second contest to sweep their doubleheader today against visiting California Baptist. With the pair of wins, the Antelopes improved to 32-10 overall and 24-5 in the Pacific West Conference, while the Lancers fell to 27-14 overall and 20-7 in conference play.
GCU won the first game, 2-0, and came from behind in the bottom of the sixth inning to win the second, 4-3. With those two victories, the 'Lopes are now three games ahead of the Lancers in the conference standings.
Additionally, the 32 wins are the most for the program since the 2002 squad won 38 contests.
"Tonight was a great bounce back for us because we left the field pretty frustrated last night," said head coach Andy Stankiewicz. "Andrew (Naderer) and Coley (Bruns) both stepped up in a big way. In the first game, Andrew did a terrific job and Coley kept us in the second game. It was frustrating in the second game because we weren't productive in our at-bats. But we stayed on it and the next thing you knew, we had those key extra-base hits."
GCU won the first game behind a strong pitching effort from Andrew Naderer. It was the 10th shutout for the ‘Lopes this season, while Naderer (7-2) tossed his third complete game, allowing just 4 hits and 3 walks with 4 strikeouts in 7.0 innings. For CBU, David Herd (6-3) was charged with the loss.
Michael Pomeroy led the team offensively after going 2-for-3 at the plate. Brian Kraft, Paul Panaccione, and Garrett Jeffries each added a hit for GCU.
The ‘Lopes got on the board first on an odd play with two outs in the bottom of the third inning. Ryan Moore was hit by a pitch with one out and advanced to second on a groundout by Kraft. Moore then moved to third on a wild pitch and scored via a bad throw by the CBU catcher back to the pitcher.
GCU tacked on another run to make it 2-0 in the bottom of the sixth inning after Kraft opened the frame with a double down the right field line. Pinch-runner Kyle Raidy came around to score after Panaccione put down a successful sacrifice bunt to move him to third and an error on the throw by the pitcher to third base allowed him to cross home plate. The ‘Lopes then loaded the bases with one out on the board, but two strikeouts put an end to the inning.
Naderer retired six of his final seven batters to secure the win for GCU.
In the second game, the Lancers got on the board first when Zach Esquerra connected for his team-leading 12th homer, a solo shot over the left field fence. CBU made it a 2-0 game after a leadoff double in the fourth inning eventually scored on a wild pitch with two outs.
After CBU saw their leadoff batter reach base for the fifth straight inning, the Lancers scored their third run on an RBI single to right field in the sixth inning. GCU reliever Garrett Jeffries inherited a bases-loaded jam with one out, but induced a force out at home and groundout to end the inning.
"Guys know that Garrett is a competitive young man and will give you everything he has, whether he is pitching or batting," Stankiewicz said. "He flagged down that line drive and if that ball got through, it would have been a whole different game. He has something about him that helps guys get excited."
The ‘Lopes opened the bottom half of the sixth inning with back-to-back doubles by Kraft and Panaccione to break CBU's shutout bid. Pomeroy then connected for his first home run of the season, a 2-run shot over the right-field fence to knot the score at 3 with no outs on the board. One out later, Derek Mendoza plated the go-ahead run for the ‘Lopes with his second double of the game to score pinch-runner Raidy.
"Derek came up with a big hit and he needed that," said Stankiewicz. "It was good to see him keep persevering. That was a big at-bat for us to get that go-ahead run across."
"Overall, I think we started to put better at-bats together towards the end of that second game," added Stankiewicz. "When Garrett hit that double, we started to feel like the momentum might be shifting. That's a good team so you don't expect to score four runs in one inning, so that was big for us."
Mark Jarrett came in to pitch the seventh inning en route to securing his team-leading eighth save of the season. Starter Coley Bruns was charged with 3 runs on 7 hits and 2 walks with 2 strikeouts in 5.1 innings,while Jeffries picked up his first win of the season after recording those two key outs in the sixth.
Pomeroy once again led the squad with two more hits in the second game and added 2 RBI via his game-tying home run in the sixth inning. Panaccione and Mendoza also collected an RBI in the contest, while Mendoza went 2-for-3 with two doubles.
GCU and CBU will conclude their four-game series with a single game tomorrow, with first pitch slated for 1 p.m. Fans can follow the action via live audio and stats by visiting www.gculopes.com.
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