No. 9 GCU Holds Off Late Rally, Wins 19th StraightPosted: Updated:
The No. 9 Grand Canyon University baseball team remained perfect on the road (10-0) after defeating Fresno Pacific, 9-8, tonight in Fresno, Calif., to improve to 28-5 overall and 21-1 in the Pacific West Conference. The Sunbirds fell to 20-12 overall and 11-7 in conference play.
The ‘Lopes used an eighth inning offensive outburst, while holding off a Sunbirds rally, to extend their win streak to 19 straight games, the longest such streak for GCU since winning a school-best 27 consecutive contests from March 6-31, 1984.
The ‘Lopes also improved to 24-2 in games that they score first and outhit their opponent for the 23rd time this season.
Starter Andrew Naderer was charged with 4 runs on 5 hits and 2 walks with 2 strikeouts over 5.1 innings of work for the no-decision. Kevin Behnke picked up his first win of the season after tossing 2.1 innings in relief.
"Andrew got out of some jams and made big pitches to stay in control," said head coach Andy Stankiewicz. "They are a good team and we knew that they were going to keep coming at us. We gave ourselves a cushion there in the eighth inning, but we opened the door for them and they took advantage of it. Mark (Jarrett) did what he has done all year for us and competed."
Offensively, Ryan Moore led the squad with a 3-for-5 effort at the plate, including 2 runs scored and 2 RBI. Brandon Smith and Paul Panaccione each added 2 hits, while Seth Fretheim collected 2 RBI.
GCU struck first after Moore singled home Smith in the second inning to hand the ‘Lopes an early 1-0 lead. GCU added one run in the third and two in the fourth to extend their advantage to 4-0. Derek Mendoza scored Harlyn Griffiths via an RBI single in the third, while Moore picked up his second RBI of the contest to once again plate Smith in the fourth and came around to score on an error by the pitcher.
The Sunbirds got on the board in the fifth after loading the bases with no outs. FPU cut GCU's lead in half, 4-2, in the inning after collecting two hits, a walk, and hit by pitch before Naderer retired the side.
FPU knotted the score at four in the bottom of the sixth inning after opening the frame with a single and double to place runners on second and third. Both of those runners came around to score before reliever Kevin Behnke put an end to the frame.
The ‘Lopes reclaimed the lead in the eighth inning after the first three batters reached base, allowing pinch-hitter Garrett Jeffries to draw a bases-loaded walk. Fretheim's two-run single put GCU ahead 7-4 in the same frame with no outs on the board. Jeffries scored the fourth-run of the inning and Michael Pomeroy used a sacrifice fly to plate Fretheim as GCU built their lead to 9-4.
The Sunbirds scored four runs between the eighth and ninth innings to pull within one run, 9-8, before Mark Jarrett put the FPU rally to an end by stranding runners on first and third.
The series between the ‘Lopes and Sunbirds will conclude tomorrow with a doubleheader slated to begin at noon. Fans can follow the action via live stats by visiting www.gculopes.com.
"I told the team to sleep fast, take a nap really, and come back at it and do it again tomorrow," said Stankiewicz.
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