Perez's complete game helps Grand Canyon remain in contention for a title
CARY, N.C. -- Grand Canyon defeated Coker 10-2 in an elimination game at the NCAA Division II Baseball Championship and improved to 40-18 on the season. The Cougars completed their 2013 campaign with a 38-16 record.
The 40 wins are the most for the Lopes' program since collecting 43 victories in 1990 as part of NAIA.
Starter Jorge Perez recorded his third complete game of the season, two of which have come in back-to-back starts in the postseason. In that time, he has allowed just four runs (two earned) with 11 strikeouts. On Wednesday, he allowed just two runs (both unearned) on five hits and a walk with six strikeouts to improve to 8-4 on the season.
GCU collected a season-best nine extra-base hits (seven doubles and two triples) in the game as it scored at least 10 runs for the 12th time this season (12-0 in those games).
The 'Lopes were led offensively by Brian Kraft, who picked up his first four-hit game of the season. Steven Swingle and Brandon Smith each had two hits, while Swingle and Charles Wagner plated two runs apiece.
In the bottom of the first inning, Coker put its first two batters on via base hits, but Perez was able to work around the jam and strand those runners on second and third.
In the top of the second, Swingle picked up his eighth triple of the season, tied for the most in DII and seventh-most in GCU baseball history. A passed ball to the next batter, Chris Lindmark, scored Swingle with the first run of the game as GCU took an early 1-0 lead.
The following inning, Kraft picked up his second hit of the game and his 12th double of the season. One batter later, Michael Pomeroy drilled a ball to right-center to plate Kraft with a two-out double to extend GCU’s lead to 2-0.
GCU scored a run for the third consecutive inning, when in the fourth, Lindmark connected for a double to deep right field, stole third and crossed home on an error by the catcher that also allowed Kyle Raidy to reach first. Kraft connected for his third hit, a triple to left center, to plate Raidy and hand GCU the 4-0 lead with two outs in the fourth.
Coker got on the board in the fourth inning via a sacrifice fly with runners on second and third with one out. A two-out triple cut GCU’s lead in half 4-2.
GCU loaded the bases with one out on the board in the fifth inning and Swingle placed the first pitch he saw over the right fielder to plate two runs with his team-leading 13th double. Lindmark then plated Smith with a sacrifice fly to left field to make it a 7-2 game.
In the top of the ninth, pinch-hitter Wagner connected for a two-run double to left-center to extend GCU’s advantage to 9-2. Smith followed with an RBI double to almost the exact same location to plate Wagner and collect GCU’s seventh double, the most in a single game this season.
After allowing a one-out single in the bottom of the frame, Perez induced a ground-out double play to keep GCU’s national championship hopes alive.