EL CAJON, Calif. – The San Diego Christian Hawks completed the series sweep against Biola University to close out the regular season on Saturday. The Hawks won the first game 3-2 and the second game 7-4 as they head into their first GSAC conference postseason tournament next weekend as the third seed.
San Diego Christian was able to find success against Biola's top two strikeout pitchers in Josh Staumont and Trevor Oaks. Staumont and Oaks, both freshmen, rank first and second respectively in total strikeouts in the GSAC, as well as fourth and fifth in the nation.
In game one the Hawks needed extra innings to defeat the Eagles. After a leadoff double in the tenth frame to deep left center field from Taylor Eichhorst, Jeff Lusardi singled up the middle to bring home Eichhorst to give the victory to the Hawks.
The Eagles took the early lead scoring a run in the first and fourth innings to lead 2-0. With two outs in the sixth, the Hawks' Cade Gotta tripled down the right field line to score Eichhorst from first to close the gap.
In the eighth inning, San Diego Christian tied it after a monstrous homerun to center field. Eichhorst took the 3-2 pitch from Staumont over the wall for his eleventh homerun of the season. Staumont left the game after the home run. He lasted seven innings striking out a career-high 12 batters and allowed seven hits and two runs. Garret Picha took the loss and fell to 0-3.
Brock Heerdt earned the win improving to 3-0 throwing 2.1 innings allowing one hit and striking out one. Starter Gabriel Hemmer went 3.1 innings allowing five hits and gave up two runs.
Eichhorst finished with three hits and three runs. Gilbert Viera and Alex Mann had two hits apiece.
In game two, it was the Hawks who got on the board early for the first time in the series. San Diego Christian converted six hits in a row off the Eagles' Oaks to start off the bottom of the first. A leadoff single by Mann was followed by a Garrison McLagan homerun to right field. The homer was McLagan's eighth of the season. A single by Chad Erickson and a ground-rule double by Eichhorst kept the hot hitting going. The Hawks then got consecutive RBI singles from Lusardi and Gotta to end the scoring in the first.
Biola got two runs in the third to cut the lead in half. An RBI sacrifice fly by Vince Lawrence and a single from Benji Sutherland gave the Eagles a brief glimpse of a comeback in the second game of the double header. But the Hawks scored one in the bottom of the third and two runs in the sixth to give San Diego Christian enough cushion to secure the sweep.
Senior Nick Greene (7-3) won his last home game of his career throwing four innings giving up three hits and two earned runs while striking out four.
Steven Bunnell, Jeremy Blare and David Johnson each pitched one inning. Oaks took the loss falling to 4-8. He went five innings allowing seven hits and five runs, four earned, while striking out seven.
McLagan led the Hawks in game two with 3 RBI. Erickson and Mann had two hits apiece.
With the win the Hawks improved to 35-16 and 20-16 in conference play and end the regular season on a four-game win streak. Biola finishes their season 25-26 and 13-23 in the GSAC.
Between games, San Diego Christian honored their seniors for their contributions to the program, including setting the school record for wins in a season this year. The seniors included: Alex Mann, Jeremy Blare, Dylan Jones, Nick Greene, Garrison McLagan, John Patacsil, Tyler Sanborn, Billy Fuston, and Brock Heerdt.
In addition, San Diego Christian took time to honor and thank Biola Head Coach John Verhoeven. Coach Verhoeven is retiring after 16 successful years with the Eagles.
San Diego Christian will take on second-seed Concordia in the first game of postseason play on Thursday. The two teams finished with an even record against each other at 3-3. The winner will play the winner of The Master's College and Arizona Christian on Friday. The losing two teams will play each other later that day on Thursday in an elimination match. The Hawks' start time against Concordia will be 9:00am.
By Nick Fortini