Lopes take series from No. 5 Arizona State
The GCU club baseball team sat on the cusp of the national top-20 rankings for the past two weeks.
An excellent way to swing the pollsters is having season-best hitting to beat a top-five team.
The Lopes won two of three weekend games against fifth-ranked Arizona State, pulling into a tie for the conference lead at 10-2 with only one three-game series remaining for each team.
GCU now stands a strong chance of cracking this week’s National Club Baseball Association’s top 20 before controlling its conference championship destiny with a late April series against Arizona. By winning 11-1 and 19-9 blowouts against ASU, the Lopes hold the tiebreaker should GCU and ASU be tied after the Lopes play Arizona and the Sun Devils finish with Northern Arizona. The conference regular-season title guarantees a postseason berth.
GCU sophomore Jarrett McDonald opened another series strongly, pushing his conference record to 4-0. He kept ASU hitters off-balance with his fastball and off-speed pitches to strike out seven batters in the five-inning, run-rule victory.
McDonald has been the region’s pitcher of the week twice.
“He’s been able to kick off each series well,” Lopes club baseball coach Rich Warnol said. “He’s just one of those guys who competes out on the field. You can always depend on him, day in and day out.”
The Lopes’ surprise contribution was sophomore third baseman David Macias, a call-up replacement from GCU club baseball’s second team. GCU hit .413 as a team in the three-game series with Macias going eight for 12, including a triple and four runs batted in.
“We knew he could play,” Warnol said. “All the rest of his teammates were excited that they (the Sun Devils pitchers) couldn’t get him out.”
Freshman centerfielder Kadin Breeze, GCU’s lead-off hitter, also had eight hits in 15 at bats. He now is hitting .333 in conference play, trailing only Michael Doty (.476) for the team lead.
GCU split the first two games at Snedigar Sports Complex but smacked 20 hits in Sunday’s 19-9 finale to win the series. Patrick Cardiasmenos picked up the game-three victory, allowing one run over five innings.
GCU club baseball’s second team swept Cal State San Marcos this weekend. GCU first baseman Henry Coates and GCU pitcher Brandon Beltz were named NCBA District 8’s player and pitcher of the week.