GCU out-slugs Lobos 11-8 Tuesday
PHOENIX – A back-and-forth slugfest went the way of host Grand Canyon on Tuesday afternoon at Brazell Field, as the Antelopes topped the New Mexico baseball team 11-8 in the midweek non-conference affair.
Reed Spenrath hit UNM’s first grand slam of the season in the first inning, but the hosts used a six-run third to swipe momentum on their way to the victory. UNM slipped to 11-5 on the season with the defeat, while Grand Canyon improved to 12-4 after the only meeting between the teams this spring.
The Lobos got off to a hot start against GCU right-hander Isaac Lyon, with consecutive singles by Jeffrey David, Lenny Junior Ashby, and Braydon Runion loading the bases with one out in the first. That set the stage for Spenrath’s team-leading seventh home run of the year, as he sent a towering fly ball over the fence in right-center to put his team in front.
The Lopes got a run back in the bottom of the inning, when a two-out double by Jacob Wilson was followed by an RBI-single off the bat of Zach Yorke to make the score 4-1.
David delivered a two-out, RBI-double into the right-center gap in the top of the second, as he brought Chase Weissenborn home from first and got the run back for the Lobos. UNM starter Jaren Jackson settled into a groove in the bottom of the second, using a pair of strikeouts to collect his first 1-2-3 inning of the ballgame.
Yorke came through with two outs once again in the third, drilling an RBI-double to the wall in right field. Cade Verdusco, Tyler Wilson, and Josh Buckley each followed with RBI knocks, as GCU scored six runs with two outs to take a 7-5 lead. That spelled the end of the day for Jackson, who took the no-decision allowing seven runs on seven hits with three strikeouts and a pair of walks in his third start of the year.
David pulled the Lobos even in the top of the fourth, with a two-run home run to center to make it a 7-7 ballgame, but Verdusco countered with a three-run home run in the bottom of the inning as the back-and-forth affair tilted back to the Lopes 10-7.
In his second inning of work, Lobo reliever Benjamin Baker-Livingston retired the Lopes in order as he used a good play by Weissenborn on a grounder up the middle and his second strikeout to put a zero on the scoreboard. The right-hander connected a sting of six straight hitters retired, and stranded a runner on third to end the sixth thanks in large part to a diving catch by Deylan Pigford in left field. Baker-Livingston allowed three runs on three hits with three strikeouts and a walk in his three innings of work.
David was robbed of a double in the top of the seventh, as Verdusco leapt to snag a deep drive that likely would have scored Dylan Ditzenberger from first base. Runion followed with an RBI-single, but the GCU pitching staff stranded two runners in scoring position with a pair of strikeouts to hang on to a 10-8 advantage.
The Lopes threatened to put up a crooked number in the bottom of the seventh, loading the bases with one out. UNM reliever Brett Russell got through the jam with an inning-ending double play to keep his team within two runs.
GCU added an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth, as Jacob Wilson lofted a sacrifice fly to left field that was deep enough to bring home Homer Bush and make the score 11-8.
After Lyon allowed five runs on six hits in two innings of work, the combination of Brodie Cooper-Vassalakis, Grant Richardson, and Shawn Triplett struck out 13 batters while limiting UNM to three runs on four hits over the final seven innings.
David led UNM at the plate, going 3-for-5 with three RBIs and two runs scored. Runion finished 2-for-4 with an RBI, and Ashby also had a pair of hits.
Verdusco was the top producer for GCU, going 3-for-5 with four RBIs. Jacob Wilson was 3-for-4 while Yorke, Bush, and Tyler Wilson each had two hits.
LOBO NOTES: UNM is now 25-15 all-time against Grand Canyon and is 11-10 in road games against the Lopes…Spenrath’s home run was the Lobos’ 25th of the season and their first grand slam…Ashby was the last Lobo to hit a grand slam, doing so on May 20, 2022 against Air Force…it was Spenrath’s 31st home run of his collegiate career…David’s home run was his second of the season and the eighth of his collegiate career…Ditzenberger extended his hitting streak to 12 games, and his reached base streak to 30 games.
NEXT UP: The Lobos remain on the road this weekend, with a three-game Mountain West Conference series on tap against Fresno State beginning on Friday night.