The Grand Canyon University baseball team, who entered the NCAA Division II West Regional without a win in the postseason since joining the division in 1999, punched their ticket to the regional championship game with an 8-7 win over No. 2 seed and 23rd-ranked Sonoma State. The Antelopes handed the Seawolves both of their losses in the double-elimination tournament, although Sonoma State made them work for it tonight.
With the win, GCU improved to 37-17 overall, their most wins in a season since collecting 38 victories in 2002. The Seawolves concluded their 2013 campaign with a 36-22 record.
The ‘Lopes will now face sixth-seeded Chico State in the first of the West Region Championship Games at 11 a.m. (Arizona time) tomorrow. Chico State needs just one win to advance to the Division II College World Series in Cary, N.C. beginning on May 25. GCU must win twice tomorrow to continue in postseason play.
The postgame press conference with head coach Andy Stankiewicz, starting pitcher Malcolm Purdy, and shortstop Paul Panaccione will be added shortly.
Malcolm Purdy made his first start of the 2013 season, having entered the game with a 2-0 record in 15 relief appearances. Purdy tossed an impressive 5.0 innings of work, allowing just 2 runs on 6 hits and a walk with 2 strikeouts, but did not factor in the decision. Brandon Bonilla picked up his second win of the season.
Brandon Smith went 3-for-4 with 2 runs scored and an RBI, while Paul Panaccione, Derek Mendoza, and Charles Wagner each added 2 hits. Panaccione chipped in with a team-best 3 RBI.
GCU, as they did in the first two games of the postseason, scored first after breaking a scoreless tie in the third inning. An error in right field allowed Kyle Raidy to score from third and a fielder's choice by Steven Swingle plated Harlyn Griffiths' with GCU's second run of the game. Smith's single through the right side scored Swingle to extend the advantage to 3-0 before the Seawolves recorded the third out of the frame.
Sonoma State responded in the top of the fourth inning with three consecutive one-out singles to score their first run of the game. Neither team scored again until the Seawolves found themselves with the bases loaded and nobody out in the top of the sixth inning as they proceeded to knot the score at three.
In the bottom half of the frame, the ‘Lopes scratched across a run on a fielder's choice off the bat of Chris Lindmark to plate Smith and make it a 4-3 game.
GCU loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom of the eighth on back-to-back singles and a hit by pitch. Brian Kraft drew a walk to plate Mendoza, still with nobody out for the ‘Lopes. Chris Lindmark promptly followed with a walk of his own, this time scoring Smith and extending the lead to 6-3. After the next two batters were retired, Panaccione drilled a pitch up the middle to score two more runs, the fourth of the inning for GCU, proving to be the game-winning runs for the 'Lopes.
The Seawolves erupted for four runs of their own, including a 3-run shot over the left field fence with one out to pull within one at 8-7. Mark Jarrett allowed two more baserunners in the frame before striking out his final batter to ensure that GCU would continue play tomorrow.
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