3-game sweep of Wildcats highlighted by pair of ‘run-rule’ wins Saturday at Brazell Stadium
By: Jim Howell/GCU Club Sports Information Director
Using the adrenaline of being in the newest jewel on the GCU campus, the Grand Canyon University Club Baseball team emphatically swept their three-game series over the weekend with the University of Arizona. The Lopes shut out U of A, 10-0, in five innings in Game 1 of their Saturday doubleheader, and followed that up by also invoking the ‘run rule’ in the nightcap, a 15-4, six-inning victory. The Lopes finished out the weekend with a 12-3 win to finish off the sweep Sunday. The Lopes posted all three wins in their first appearances at the brand-new Brazell Stadium on the GCU campus.
It took all of the first inning of Game 1 Saturday afternoon to establish the tone that would permeate throughout the series. And the early-and-often offensive surges from the Lopes showed they paid attention to their head coach’s pregame speech about playing in the new 4,200-seat facility for the first time.
“We felt privileged to play in the new stadium,” said Lopes’ Head Club Baseball Coach Rich Warnol. “But I even told the guys prior to the game, ‘Get all of the ‘wow’ factor out now.’ Then we can be ready to play when the game starts.”
They were. After Lopes’ starting pitcher Joel Thomas stranded a pair of Wildcats’ base runners in scoring position in the top half of the 1st, GCU’s offense went to work in the bottom of the frame. A leadoff single by GCU’s Anthony Alamillo-followed by back-to-back doubles from Lopes’ outfielders Matt Dolewski and Reid Magnaghi-cashed in a pair of runs. UA starter Michael Kistler might’ve gotten out of the inning with just the two runs, but issued a walk to GCU’s Mike Doty, who promptly stole second, then was cashed in by Taylor Brooks’ 2-out single. The Lopes would add two more in the 2nd and another run in the 4th before exploding in the bottom of the 5th, sending nine men to the plate, and scoring three of their four runs with 2 out, invoking the 10-run ‘mercy rule’ as David Macias cashed in Azael Lopez-Chairez with the 10th run of the game to end it. Dolewski went 3-for-3 with a double and two runs scored at the plate, while Thomas (1-0) would allow just 3 Wildcats’ singles in firing the shutout.
Game 2 had a similar end to it, but this time, the Lopes had to come from behind after Arizona batted around in the 1st inning, scoring 3 runs on 3 straight doubles off Lopes’ starter Jarrett McDonald. The Wildcats added another insurance run in the top of the 3rd before the Lopes’ offense exploded again in the bottom of the inning. GCU sent 13 to the plate against three Wildcats’ pitchers, and all nine Lopes’ batters scored once in the inning to give the Lopes a 9-4 lead. From there, McDonald (2-0) refused to allow the ‘Cats another hit in going the six-inning distance, and the Lopes’ offense ended it early again with 6 more runs over the next 3 innings, capped off by a Magnaghi walkoff 2-run blast in the 6th. Both Magnaghi and Dolewski had similar lines: 2 extra-base hits, 2 runs scored, and 3 runs batted in for each.
Sunday’s action had a much different tone, since the Wildcats stayed close until the Lopes got to the UA pitchers in the later innings. Alamillo, Dolewski and Doty combined offensively in the bottom of the 1st to give GCU a 2-0 lead, and the Lopes would add an unearned run in the 3rd. Arizona, however, battled back in the 4th to touch Lopes’ starter Ryan Van Meeteren for a pair of runs on three hits to get back within a run. It would stay that way until the 6th when the Lopes got to tiring UA starting pitcher Mateo Orozco, who allowed the first four Lopes’ hitters he faced in the inning to get on base before heading for the showers. UA reliever Domenick Sarlitto would get a 4-6-3 double play to get out of the inning, but not before GCU’s Macias would complete a four-run inning with a 2-run single. The Lopes would blow it open with three runs in the 7th and two more in the 8th before Lopes’ reliever Josh Gainer would work out of a bases-loaded jam in the 9th by getting UA’s Nick Gillies to line out to Doty at shortstop to end the game. Gainer went a full 3 innings to earn his 1st conference save in relief of Vanmeeteran (2-0), who allowed just five hits over six complete innings while fanning seven. Doty, Macias and GCU catcher Justin Horton each tallied a pair of hits, with each cashing at least 2 RBI.
Warnol was understandably pleased by the offensive and defensive efforts, since they outscored the ‘Cats, 37-7, outhit UA, 38-16, and saw their pitchers ring up 23 Arizona strikeouts in the three games. Yet he thinks they’re still just scratching the surface. “We had a great start to conference play,” said Lopes’ Head Club Baseball Coach Rich Warnol. “We played to our potential this weekend, but I still believe we have much more to show than this.”
Meanwhile, GCU Club Baseball’s second team had similar results on their weekend series with Cal-State San Marcos. The Lopes first swept the Cougars, 6-0 and 11-4, in a Saturday doubleheader at South Mountain Community College in Phoenix; then followed that up with an impressive 12-1, five-inning win Sunday at Brazell Stadium.
Team 1 has the week off before returning to conference action on the road Saturday, March 10th against UC-San Diego. Team 2 will make that same San Diego road trip to face San Diego State in a weekend series this Saturday and Sunday, March 3 and 4.
Learn more about club baseball at GCU by contacting the coach!