Defending SoPac South Champs seek first-ever SoPac Regional title this weekend
By: Jim Howell/GCU Club Sports Information Director
GCU Club Sports is proud to announce that the Grand Canyon University Club Baseball team has been seeded 2nd for the National Club Baseball Association (NCBA) Southern Pacific (SoPac) Division I Regional Tournament. The Lopes will open up play Friday, May 11, against the 4th-seeded Gauchos of the University of California-Santa Barbara. The matchup will be one of a pair of games that will commence the three-day, four-team, double-elimination tournament on Friday. All tournament games will be played at Antelope Valley College in Lancaster, California, which has hosted the SoPac Tournament since 2015. Three wins between Friday and Sunday would bring the Lopes not only the SoPac Regional title in their first trip to the DI playoffs, but also their first trip to the NCBA Division I World Series, which will be held May 25 through 31 in Holly Springs, North Carolina.
For the Lopes, Friday will be the first time in nearly three weeks that they will get to take the field for a game. The Lopes (18-2 overall, 13-2 SoPac South) wrapped up their regular season schedule in triumphant fashion on April 21, clinching their first-ever SoPac South Conference title by taking two out of three games from archrival Arizona State University at Brazell Stadium on the GCU campus. While the wins may have locked up a spot in Lancaster (and moved them up to 5th in the latest NCBA Poll), it also forced them to play the waiting game to find out what seed and opponent they’d have, since the regular season for most of NCBA teams ended yesterday.
That included UCSB, who had to secure the tournament’s ‘at-large’ bid by finishing their schedule in difficult fashion this weekend, making up three games that had been postponed earlier in the season against three different teams. The Gauchos (17-4 overall, 11-4 SoPac North) got the wins they needed, defeating California State University-Long Beach and UCLA on the field, then getting a win via forfeit over the University of Southern California. UCSB will be the 4th seed for the second straight year at the regional tournament, nearly completing a Cinderella run last year before losing the championship game to 3rd-seeded University of Nevada.
The Lopes and Gauchos will actually lead off the tournament schedule Friday, May 11, with a noon first pitch at AVC. The two teams will not only be meeting in the playoffs for the first time Friday, but for the first time ever in club baseball. The winner of that matchup will head to Saturday’s winner’s bracket for a noon matchup against the winner of Friday’s 3 pm game pitting top-seeded and SoPac West Champion California Polytechnic State University (20-1 overall, 14-1 SoPac West) against 3rd-seeded SoPac North Champ California State University-Chico (13-5 overall, 12-3 SoPac North). The losers of the two opening-round games will lead off Saturday’s action with an elimination-round matchup at 9 am.
The SoPac Regional Championship game will be played Sunday, May 13 at 9 am (and noon if a second championship game is necessary). The Lopes will be trying for a trip to North Carolina in just their third year of NCBA existence (and 2nd year at the DI level).