A three-run eighth inning broke a 2-2 tie as Grand Canyon University took the opener of a three-game Western Athletic Conference series, 5-2, over Utah Valley University on Friday night at Brazell Stadium.
The Wolverines (24-27, 15-10) now drop into a tie with Texas-Pan American in the race for the No. 2 seed and a bye in next week’s WAC Tournament in Mesa.
After David Walker walked to start Grand Canyon’s half of the eighth, Paul Panaccione delivered his second double of the day to give the Antelopes (29-20, 18-7) a 3-2 lead. Two errors in the eighth aided in two more runs crossing the plate for GCU.
Danny Beddes and Andrew Naderer were locked in a pitcher’s duel, with each starter allowing just two early runs.
UVU took a 2-0 lead in the second when Riley White doubled off the wall in left and Craig Brinkerhoff followed with a home run off Naderer. It was Brinkerhoff’s sixth home run of the year and tied him for the team lead with Sean Moysh and Mark Krueger.
Grand Canyon tied it with a pair of two-out RBI hits in the third. Panaccione hit his first double, scoring Brandon Smith, and Chad De La Guerra singled on the next pitch to bring in Panaccione.
The score remained tied until the ‘Lopes broke through in the bottom of the eighth.
Naderer, who allowed just three baserunners after the Brinkerhoff home run and retired 19 of his last 22 hitters, got the win to move to 9-3. He struck out three and allowed just four hits in eight innings.
Beddes struck out five and walked two in seven-plus innings of work but dropped to 4-4. He allowed three earned runs. Jorge Perez pitched a 1-2-3 ninth to get his second save for Grand Canyon.
The series continues Saturday at 6:35 p.m. PT. Ryan Evans will get the start for UVU with Coley Bruns on the mound for GCU.
Clint Burgi is the assistant athletic director for sports information at Utah Valley University. For more information on Wolverine athletics, visit WolverineGreen.com.