The Grand Canyon University baseball team kept their postseason hopes alive with a 9-6 win over sixth-seeded Chico State in the first NCAA Division II West Regional championship game at Bruce Hurst Field in St. George, Utah. The Antelopes, who are now 38-17, forced the ‘if necessary' Game 11 in the regional. The Wildcats dropped to 37-17 with the loss.
The two teams will square off once more today at 3 p.m. (Arizona time), with the victor punching their ticket to the NCAA Division II College World Series in Cary, N.C. to begin on May 25.
Starter Trent Wilson pitched a strong 5.0 innings for GCU, allowing 3 runs on 6 hits with 2 strikeouts in his 16th appearance (11th start) of the season. He did not factor into the decision as the ‘Lopes were forced to utilize four relievers in the contest, with Mark Jarrett improving to 4-1 on the season with 1.1 scoreless innings of relief.
Brian Kraft continued to swing a hot bat, going 2-for-5 with 2 runs scored and 3 RBI. Charles Wagner and Kyle Raidy picked up 3 hits apiece in the contest, while Steven Swingle and Brandon Smith added 2 hits. Paul Panaccione and Wagner also chipped in with 2 RBI.
Kraft led off the bottom half of the first with a double down the left field line and moved to third on a well-executed groundout to the right side by Panaccione. Derek Mendoza hit a hard groundball to the third baseman, who was charged with an error as Kraft crossed home plate and handed GCU an early 1-0 lead.
The Wildcats answered with a run of their own in the third inning on back-to-back singles with two outs. GCU responded with a pair of two-out hits themselves, as Swingle scored Wagner to once again give the ‘Lopes a one run lead at 2-1 in the bottom of the frame.
Chico State tied the game for the second time with another two-out hit, this time an RBI double to left centerfield, in the fourth.
Continuing the trend of two-out hits, Kraft unloaded on a 1-2 pitch, sending it over the right field fence to score Smith and Raidy and put the ‘Lopes back on top, 5-2. The homer was Kraft's team-best fifth long ball of the season.
For the third straight inning, Chico State put a run on the board, this time with the help of a wild pitch and throwing error by Swingle.
In the top of the seventh, the Wildcats had the bases loaded with two outs, plating two runs via back-to-back hit batters and knotting the score at five. Cody Repenning entered the game in relief and induced a groundout to third base, where Mendoza made a great play to end the inning. During what was a wild top of the frame, Chico State head coach Dave Taylor and first base coach Cody Foster were ejected from the game after arguing an infield fly call.
Chico State carried their momentum into the eighth inning, scoring the go-ahead run with two outs and runners on first and third. However, the tables turned when the ‘Lopes loaded the bases with two outs in the bottom of the frame. Similar to last night, Panaccione came through with a clutch single up the middle to score Smith and Chris Lindmark, the latter of which represented the go-ahead run as GCU claimed a 7-6 lead.
Wagner proceeded to lace a line drive down into right field, scoring two more GCU runs and finding himself with his first triple of the season while extending the lead to 9-6.
Jarrett faced the minimum three batters in the top of the ninth to secure the win for the ‘Lopes.
Copyright 2013 CBS 5 (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.