Biola baseball loses championship but moves on to NAIA tournament

After defeating APU and PLNU, Biola baseball loses to Concordia but heads to Chicago to play in NAIA tournament.

Joseph DeClercq, Writer

The Biola University baseball team came alive late in their first game of the opening round of the Golden State Athletics Conference playoffs and came away with a 5-3 victory over Point Loma Nazarene University on Tuesday, May 3. Junior starting pitcher Kevin Ryan gave Biola a solid start by going 7.2 innings, allowing just two earned runs an striking out six. Junior Drake Fages drove home the winning run with a single in the seventh inning.

With PLNU up 2-0 in the fourth inning, senior Garrett Leon led the inning off with a single and stolen base to advance him to second. A sacrifice fly from freshman Johnny Farrington moved Leon to third. He then scored on a wild pitch to put Biola on the board and cut PLNU’s lead in half.

Tied 3-3 in the eighth inning, Biola stepped up and secured the lead. With one out, Andrews and junior Boone Farrington both singled, then Fages played hero again and singled to bring home Andrews and the go-ahead run. Senior Mac Sullivan added an RBI-single of his own to take a final 5-3 lead.

Senior Kyle Atkins earned the win for Biola improving his record to 7-4 on the season.

Biola falls in second playoff game

In the second game of the playoffs against Concordia University, Biola made a late comeback effort, but failed to keep runs off the board and fell 11-8 on Wednesday, May 4.

Biola’s offense fell flat and didn’t record a hit until the fourth inning, and sophomore starting pitcher Nick Turner turned in a rough outing by allowing a season-high nine runs and 17 hits over just six innings.

Eagles redeem themselves against PLNU

On Thursday, May 5, Biola played PLNU for the second time in the GSAC playoffs. The Eagles came away with an 8-5 win backed by three-RBIs from Fages and a solid start from senior Bobby O’Neill.

O’Neill had his best outing of the season, going 8.1 innings allowing five runs and striking out six batters. Biola started the game quick and got off to an early lead.

In the bottom of the first, the Eagles scored five runs. Sutherland walked to lead off the game and was followed up by singles from Andrews and Leon. Fages drove home Sutherland with a sacrifice fly and senior Brian Loard brought home two more runs with a single of his own. Senior Brent Opdyke capped off the outburst with a solo home run to deep right field.

With Biola up 8-5 in the ninth, senior Cameron McVey came in for his second save of the tournament and recorded the final two outs of the game.

Success against Azusa

Later on Thursday, Biola took on rival Azusa Pacific University, coming away with a 7-6 victory and advancing them to the GSAC championship game.

Small ball and perfect execution secured the win for Biola in the bottom of the ninth inning as Leon brough home the winning run with a squeeze bunt.

Fages led a barrage of four home runs for Biola with a solo shot in the second inning and senior Alex Brueske started and held Azusa to five runs over six innings.

“My pitching approach was to go as deep into the game as I could and give the team a chance to win,” Brueske said. “It definitely was not my best game. I had a hard time throwing my off-speed for strikes.”

The game was a back and forth battle, but Biola came through in the seventh inning when they broke a 5-5 tie. The Eagles loaded the bases with no outs when Sullivan lined the ball to center field that was trapped between the fielder’s glove and the ground. The field umpire made the call that the center fielder caught the ball. With the assumption that the ball was not caught, the Eagles’ runners kept advancing. APU threw the ball to second to double up the runner there and then threw the ball to third to tag out a runner that had clearly tagged up.

After a long discussion with both coaches and the umpire crew, Biola was awarded the go-ahead run, but suffered losing the rest of their at-bat because of the triple play.

After escaping a bases-loaded jam in the eighth and preventing APU from scoring in the ninth, Biola capitalized on a leadoff triple from Sutherland in the bottom of the ninth. With Sutherland on third and just one out, Leon came through and laid down a perfect suicide squeeze bunt to score Sutherland and win the game for Biola.

Atkins gave the Eagles three solid innings of shutout baseball to record the win and send Biola to the GSAC championship game.

Atkins said, “I came in with runners on and held them there, made good pitches and didn’t let the pressure get to me. My defense helped me out behind me so that gave me confidence to let APU put the ball in play so we could record some outs.”

Concordia wins championship game

Starved for pitching, Biola had to play its fifth game in four days as they took on Concordia in the GSAC championship game on Friday, May 6. Concordia’s string of great play continued as they streaked past Biola 14-4.

Things looked good for Biola at the start. Sophomore Jonathan Cade made a spot start, the first of his collegiate career, and retired the side in the top of the first inning. Sutherland, Andrews, and Leon loaded the bases early for Biola and Fages brought home his school-record 76th RBI of the season to take a 1-0 lead. A single from Sullivan and a Concordia error gave Biola a 3-0 lead after the first inning.

Concordia came back immediately and scored four runs of their own in the second inning and they added another in the third to take a 5-3 lead that they never relinquished.

Team to play in NAIA tournament

Fages finished the tournament as the leading hitter by going 9-for-16 with six runs scored and seven RBIs. Biola is in Chicago, Ill. this week to play in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics regional playoff tournament.

“We have the talent to win the tournament and that is our only focus,” Atkins said. “We’re going to take it one game at a time, win the Regional and then head to Idaho for the World Series next week.”

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