By David Carter/GCU Club Sports Web Marketing Intern
3 games. 3 wins. 39 runs. 44 hits.
That is what the No. 18 GCU Club Baseball Division 1 team produced this weekend in sweeping the University of Arizona in Tucson in their second-to-last series of the season. The Lopes topped Arizona, 7-3, in the first game of the Saturday doubleheader; dominated Game 2, 14-4; then used an 8-run 8th inning Sunday to complete the sweep, 18-5. The sweep propelled the Lopes (12-3 overall, 9-3 SoPac South) into a 1st-place tie with Arizona State University atop the National Club Baseball Association (NCBA) Southern Pacific South Conference. By virtue of owning the tiebreaker with ASU, a sweep over Northern Arizona University this coming weekend gives the Lopes their second straight conference title, and earns them an automatic bid for the Southern Pacific Regional Playoffs in Lancaster, California in May.
“The wind was blowing a little bit this weekend,” said Lopes’ Head Coach Rich Warnol. “We hit seven home runs this weekend – (including) two guys with two home runs each.”
The Lopes used the wind and their renewed, high-powered offense to score 39 runs over the three-game series, which is the most they have scored in a three-game series all year. Lopes’ outfielder Johnny Campbell and catcher Malik Flores led the way with two roundtrippers each, and also combined for 11 runs batted in during the two days. GCU outfielder Reid Magnaghi and shortstop Jason Ochoa each added a homer, with Magnaghi producing 7 RBI and Ochoa 5.
On the pitching side, the Lopes only let Arizona (1-14 overall, 1-14 SoPac South) score a total of 12 runs on the weekend. Keeping this trend of low scoring for the opponents has been crucial for the Lopes to win games.
“When we have kept teams under seven runs, we have had a good chance to win,” emphasized Warnol. “Nick Hershey was good in the first game as he gave us 13 strikeouts in six innings.”
Hershey set the pace for the other starting pitchers with his strong six innings of work Saturday, but Matt McWilliams and Eli Graham impressed as well. McWilliams pitched five innings, scattering eight hits and allowing just two earned runs for the GCU win in the second game. Graham struck out five Wildcats’ hitters over his six innings of work to get the win in Game 3.
Upcoming: Northern Arizona University Saturday and Sunday
Although the Lopes are on a six-game winning streak and have won eight of their last nine games, they cannot take this weekend’s series against NAU lightly.
“NAU is going to be hungry since they lost the last three against San Diego State University this weekend,” mentioned Warnol. “We are taking it game by game. It is nice that we have confidence going offensively and on the hill heading into it.”
The Lopes hope they can repeat what they did last year against NAU when they outscored the Lumberjacks, 63-14, in the three games combined in Flagstaff.
The Lopes will begin play against NAU (6-10 overall, 5-7 SoPac South) with a doubleheader on Saturday, April 27, and finish off the regular season schedule with a single game on Sunday, April 28. All the games will be at Brazell Field at GCU Ballpark on the GCU campus, and first pitch both days is at 10 am. Sunday is Senior Day, with pre-game festivities prior to the first pitch.
Interested in learning more or joining a GCU Club Sport/GCU Club Baseball? Follow us on Twitter or Instagram to get connected!