PHOENIX, Ariz.—In a pitcher’s duel, Grand Canyon edged CSU Bakersfield 3-2 in the Western Athletic Conference baseball opener for both teams Friday night.
"That was a well played baseball game played by both teams tonight," said CSUB interim head coach Jeremy Beard. "Pitching and defense was the story."
GCU starter Jake Wong retired seven in a row before Mark Pena opened the top of the sixth with only the third CSUB hit of the night, a double down the left field line. Andrew Penner walked on four pitches to bring up David Metzgar. Wong struck out Metzgar on three pitches. With both runners in motion, Max Carter singled through the left side to plate Pena. Mahlik Jones singled up the middle to drive in Penner for a 2-0 lead. Wong induced a Ryan Grotjohn double play to keep the ‘Runners at bay.
Carter, the CSUB starting pitcher, retired eighth in a row before Austin Bull recorded the first Grand Canyon hit of the game, an infield single with one out in the bottom of the sixth. The next ‘Lopes batter, Tom Lerouge tied the score with a two-run home run to right. Carter got the next two outs to get out of the inning.
With two outs in the bottom of the eighth, Bull tripled down the right field line. Down 0-2 in the count, Lerouge, singled up the middle for what proved to be the game winning run. Kenny Johnson relieved Carter with the count 0-1 against Ian Evans. Jake Ortega, the CSUB catcher, threw out Lerouge attempting to steal second for the final out of the eighth.
Carter singled to open the ninth. Ryan entered the game as a pinch runner as Jones came to the plate. Jones would strike out. AJ Evans, the second GCU pitcher of the night, gave up a pair of balls to Grotjohn. ‘Lopes’ head coach Andy Stankewicz went to his closer, Mick Vorhof. With the count 3-1, Vorhof got Grotjohn to fly out to left. Jake Ortega walked before pinch hitter Christian Deaton struck out looking to end the game.
Carter was the hard luck loser on the mound as he gave up a career low four hits to Grand Canyon. He would post two of the six Roadrunner hits on the offensive side. Bull and Lerouge were the only GCU batters to record hits on the night (two each). Wong, Evans, and Franks combined for 10 strikeouts.
"Max did an outstanding job making pitches tonight," Beard said. "He pitched well enough to win. They threw the ball very well tonight. We lacked a timely hit on a few occasions that would have changed the game. Our guys will come out tomorrow and be ready to play."
The series continues Saturday with first pitch set for 2 p.m. GCU.tv will provide online coverage.