Louisiana-Monroe spoils GCU Baseball season opener

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The Grand Canyon University baseball team today opened their 2014 season, a return of sorts to Division I although as part of a different-look Western Athletic Conference, with a 6-3 loss at Louisiana-Monroe at Warhawk Field in Monroe, La.

The Antelopes outhit the Warhawks, 6-5, four of which came in the fourth inning or later as they looked to make their comeback after ULM jumped out to a 5-1 lead in the second inning.

"We gave up a big inning in the second, it was one that got away from us, and we stress minimizing in those instances," said head coach Andy Stankiewicz. "We struck out nine times, and that cannot be who we are offensively. But overall, I'm pleased with the effort tonight. I thought we played well enough, just not well enough to win."

Click here for Michael Potter's postgame interview with assistant coach Nathan Choate.
Click here for Michael Potter's pregame interview with head coach Andy Stankiewicz.

Starter Jorge Perez tossed 7.0 strong innings, which included a career-best 10 strikeouts. He allowed six runs, but only one that was earned, while issuing just one walk.

Kyle Detwiler came in relief of Perez, who had not allowed a run over his final three innings, and tossed perfect a 1-2-3 eighth inning.

Six different 'Lopes batters collected a hit, including David Walker, Ben Mauseth, Brandon Smith, Paul Panaccione, Michael Pomeroy, and Jon Kealoha.

Both squads put up a zero to open the game, but Pomeroy handed GCU an early 1-0 lead in the next inning after taking a 2-0 pitch over the right field fence in his first at-bat of the 2014 season.

The Warhawks loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom half of the frame, and after Perez recorded back-to-back strikeouts, staked the 2-1 lead on a single to right field. That turned into a 5-1 advantage when Dalton Herrington placed a 2-1 pitch over the right field fence to plate three more runs before Perez picked up his fourth strikeout to end the inning.

"Jorge was amped up tonight, and when that happens, his ball flattens out," added Stankiewicz. "But we saw him settle in, and his pitches were sinking more."

After a scoreless third inning for both sides, GCU added a run in the fourth when Josh Meyer's sacrifice fly to deep center field plated Panaccione, who reached on a double to right. ULM responded with a run of their own in the bottom of the fourth to keep the 'Lopes at a four-run distance.

A Mauseth RBI double to right-center to score Kealoha cut the Warhawks' lead to three, 6-3, in the top of the seventh. GCU and ULM traded zeroes for the remainder of the ballgame despite the 'Lopes having baserunners on in both the eighth and ninth innings.

The two teams meet again for the second game of the series tomorrow at 1 p.m. (Arizona time). Fans can follow the action live by tuning in to Independent Talk 1100 AM KFNX or www.1100fknx.com.

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