The Antelope ball players were looking for a wave and they found it in their own back yard.
The Grand Canyon University baseball team needed a pick-up before facing No. 3 ranked University of California-San Diego this weekend. Three wins against Regis University at home should do the trick.
The Lopes are trying to rebound from a disappointing 12-39 season last year and the 3-1 start to this season should help a lot. The college was a power in the ’80s, winning four NAIA championships from ’80-’86. Over the years, the program has put 13 players in the Big Leagues.
But tradition begins to fade after awhile. It’s time for the program to begin the climb again and head coach, Dave Stapleton, feels he has a stronger pitching staff this year, coupled with some promising newcomers and a core of veterans.
“We established early that there was going to be a different attitude (this year),” says Stapleton, who was a pitcher on the 1982-83 GCU team that won one of those national titles. “There’s more talk, like in the past, about winning championships.”
Last weekend was a good start toward building that new attitude.
The Antelopes defeated Regis, 11-6, on Friday to open the season and then dropped the front end of a doubleheader Saturday before coming back with a pair of wins to close out the series.
The boys brought out the big wood for Sunday’s 15-3 finale, using a five-run second inning to start the rout. Jay Green, GCU’s third baseman from Horizon HS in Scottsdale, had five RBIs in the game and center fielder Joey Bristyan, another Horizon product, scored four runs. Kevin Burbank from Deer Valley HS was on the mound and had a solid performance, retiring 10 of the last 12 batters.
P.J. Garcia, a shortstop from Thunderbird HS, was the mainstay of the series, hitting .667 and adding a team-high nine RBIs. He had a .778 on-base percentage.
The team picked a good time to shine. For the first time, the school decided to offer a video webcast of Friday’s game and then provide an audiocast coverage on Saturday and Sunday.