By Jesse Vineyard/GCU Staff
A season that can be marked as history for the Lopes came to a quick end last weekend.
Grand Canyon University Club Baseball Team 2 earned their first-ever trip to the postseason, but had their dreams of playing further end at the National Club Baseball Association (NCBA) Pacific Region Playoffs in Lancaster, California. GCU – who earned the lone at-large bid to the four-team tournament – lost their first two games in the double-elimination format, falling 11-6 to No. 2 seed San Jose State University Friday afternoon, and 10-0 to No. 3 California State University, Northridge Saturday.
No. 1 seed San Diego State University eventually won the region and moved on to the Division II World Series in Pittsburg, Kansas.
In Game 1, GCU jumped out to the early lead as the Lopes put together three straight singles with one out in the first inning. Johnny Fajardo and Andrew Nelson singled before Henry Coates did the same to drive home Fajardo. Lopes’ starting pitcher Jake Nickoloff kept the Spartans scoreless in the first inning, but SJSU returned with four runs in the second to take the early lead.
The score remained 4-1 until the top half of the fourth when the Lopes batted around and plated four runs of their own off a grand slam from Johnny Campbell. Eric Figueroa and Kolton Quitno led off the inning with singles, then Ha Belong was hit by a pitch two batters later to load the bases for Campbell, who drove a 0-1 pitch deep over the left-field wall.
The lead would not last long, however, as SJSU’s Deeter Anthony hit a two-run shot to left field in the bottom of the fourth to give the Spartans the lead again. The Lopes tied the game at 6-6 in the top of the fifth, but the Spartans took the lead for good as they scored a run in the fifth and four more in the sixth to give them the final margin of 11-6.
The loss moved GCU into the elimination bracket where they matched up with the Matadors of CSUN. The Lopes trailed, 2-0, through three innings, but the Matadors blew the game open in the fourth as they sent 12 batters to the plate, and scored eight times. CSUN’s Patrick Christopher hit a deep three-run home run to left-center field to put the stamp on the inning.
Nelson went 4-for-5 with four singles over the weekend, while Fajardo batted 3-for-4 with three singles and a run scored for the Lopes.
GCU Club Baseball now focuses on Team 1, who will take their first-ever NCBA Southern Pacific (SoPac) South Conference title to Lancaster May 11-13 for the SoPac Regional Playoffs. Like the DII Regionals, it will be a four-team, double-elimination tournament, with the Lopes, the other two conference champions, California State University-Chico and California Polytechnic State University; and a still-to-be-determined at-large team. The Lopes will find out this weekend who they’ll face in Round 1, and will either play at noon or 3 pm Friday, May 11 at Antelope Valley College.