By Jesse Vineyard/GCU Staff
As the season continues, so does the hits and wins for Grand Canyon University Club Baseball.
Team 1, ranked No. 18 in the National Collegiate Baseball Association Division I Top 20, took both games of a doubleheader with No. 7 Colorado State University at Coronado High School in Scottsdale. The Lopes breezed through Game 1 with solid pitching and timely hitting en route to a 7-1 win. In Game 2, the Rams fought back late, but GCU’s pitching held on for the 8-7 victory.
In the opening game with CSU, the Lopes wasted no time getting on the board. Matt Dolewski and Zach Broussely put together back-to-back doubles, which was followed by a two-run home run by Reid Magnaghi. Nate Downs then singled, stole second, and was driven home two batters later on a right-field single by Izzy Reyes.
The Lopes led, 4-0, after the first inning, and added one more in the third and two more in the fifth for the scoring. Joel Thomas did his part on the mound, allowing just two hits over six innings of work.
In Game 2, the Lopes continued their offensive output with three home runs. Magnaghi hit his second of the weekend in the sixth, going back-to-back with Michael Doty. Broussely added a two-run shot in the fourth.
GCU led, 8-4, going into the final inning, but the Rams put the first five batters on base and pushed three of them across to cut the lead to 8-7. CSU had the tying run on second with one out, but Ryan Van Meeteren struck out the last two batters looking to preserve the win.
“We’ve been consistent like always with our pitching staff,” Lopes’ Head Coach Rich Warnol said. “Offensively, we swung the bat really well, too. These guys tend to be seeing the ball pretty well right now.”
Magnaghi’s strong weekend earned him NCBA DI Player of the Week honors. He went 4-for-7 with two home runs, four RBIs, three runs scored and two stolen bases.
Broussely had three runs scored on the weekend while Downs scored two. Dolewski doubled twice in Game 1 and came across to score each time.
“Hitting is contagious,” said Lopes’ junior catcher Justin Horton, who went 2-for-6 with a double in the two games. “Our offense isn’t carried by just one guy. Once one guy starts hitting at the top of the order, it feels like everyone does. One through nine, we feel like we’re one of the best lineups in the country for sure.”
GCU currently is 5-1 in the Southern Pacific South Conference, three games above Arizona State University.
Team 2 takes two from No. 2 San Diego State
Team 2, ranked at No. 10 in the NCBA Division II Top 20 poll, took two of three from second-ranked San Diego State University at Brazell Stadium. The teams split Saturday’s doubleheader, with the Aztecs winning 10-4 in Game 1, and the Lopes taking Game 2, 4-3, in 10 innings. GCU’s pitching then battled for the win on Sunday, 2-1.
In the second game on Saturday, the Aztecs pulled ahead with three runs in the first inning, but GCU answered with three runs in the fifth. The scored remained 3-3 until the 10th when the Lopes loaded the bases with two outs, then pinch-hitter Noah Calderon stepped in as the pinch-hitter, and drove home Johnny Campbell on the first pitch for the game-winner.
Jake Nickoloff earned the win in Game 3, pitching 6 2/3 innings, striking out four. Nicholas Giuseponi got the last batter to fly out to center to earn the save.
The Lopes now sit just one game behind the Aztecs in the Pacific Region South Conference with a 14-4 overall record and 11-4 in conference.
The final games for Team 2 are April 7 and 8 against ASU in Tempe. Team 1 still has three big conference series to be played against the University of San Diego April 7 and 8 at Papago Park, at Northern Arizona University April 14 and 15, and then the season finale with ASU April 21 and 22 at Brazell Stadium.
Even with GCU putting more notches into the win column, Warnol knows the work is not finished as his team continues the playoff push.
“We have high expectations,” Warnol said. “The nice thing about our team is that we have some young pitchers mixed with older players around the field. These are some big series coming up, and we have to take care of business.”