2013 NCAA II Baseball National Finals - Game Seven: No. 7 Grand Canyon Defeats No. 3 Coker 10-2
Jorge Perez tossed a complete-game five-hitter and the Grand Canyon University offense provided support with 13 hits – nine for extra bases – as the nationally seventh-ranked Antelopes downed No. 3 Coker College 10-2 in an elimination game in the 2013 NCAA Division II Baseball National Finals Tuesday at Cary, N.C. The National Finals are co-hosted by Town of Cary and Mount Olive College at the USA Baseball National Training Complex.
Both Grand Canyon (40-18) and Coker (38-16) advanced to the National Finals for the first time school history. The Antelopes, which picked up their first-ever National Finals win, play another elimination game Wednesday at 7 p.m. Coker is eliminated from the tournament.
Perez, a sophomore from Downey, Calif., did not allow an earned run in the game and walked just one while striking out six. The complete game was his third of the season, and the second straight in post-season play.
He was staked to an early 4-0 lead, thanks to several extra-base hits and some Coker miscues. Grand Canyon got on the board in the second inning when Steven Swingle tripled to right-center and scored on a passed ball. The Antelopes added another run in the third when Brian Kraft doubled to center with one out and Michael Pomeroy doubled him home with a hit to right-center with two outs.
The Antelopes' third run was set up by a two-out double from Chris Lindmark, who stole third and scored when Coker's catcher dropped a fly ball just inside fair territory. Kraft followed with a triple down the right-field line, giving Grand Canyon a four-run lead after three and a half innings.
The Cobras tried to make a game of it in the bottom of the fourth. Brinley Griffin led off the frame with a single and moved to second when Zach Loraine's grounder was misplayed at short. Both runners advanced a base on T.J. Giczkowski's sacrifice bunt, and Griffin scored on a sacrifice fly by Fico Kondla. Ernie Kirkwood followed with a triple into the right-field corner, driving in Loraine to cut the Grand Canyon lead in half at 4-2.
After the Antelopes loaded the bases in the top of the fifth off Coker reliever Dan Meyer with a double, hits batsman and infield single, the Cobras brought in their closer, Loraine, to try and keep the game close. However, Swingle laced the very first pitch from Loraine, ranked second in the nation in saves this year, into right-center, driving in two key runs. A third run scored on a sacrifice fly, giving Grand Canyon a 7-2 cushion.
Loraine would retire the Antelopes in order for the next three innings, but the Cobras could get nothing started against Perez, managing just one hit and two total baserunners over the final five innings.
Grand Canyon tacked on three runs in the ninth, two on consecutive RBI doubles by Charles Wagner and Brandon Smith.
Kraft went 4-for-5 to pace the Antelopes, while Smith and Swingle each added a pair of hits. Wagner and Swingle each drove in two runs. Five different players had one hit each for Coker.
Cobras starter Tyler Witzel (7-6) suffered the loss, scattering six hits and giving up four runs, only one of them earned. He did not walk a batter and struck out three.
Including the West Regional, Grand Canyon has won four consecutive elimination games in the NCAA Tournament.
"It starts with starting pitching; we believe that as a program. Jorge stepped up in a big way and was able to make the pitches when he had to. I thought we played really good defense and made some nice plays on that end. It kept the momentum on our side."
Grand Canyon head coach Andy Stankiewicz
"All year when we have had our backs to the wall is usually when we have responded the best. We didn't press and stayed nice and relaxed, just how we have been all season, even in the West Regional. That's how we were when we were down and I kind of got the same vibe from the guys today."
Grand Canyon catcher Steven Swingle
"These guys have nothing to be ashamed of. This is a lime light time for all these guys involved in the year and they'll take it with them and treasure it forever."
Coker head coach Dave Schmotzer