PHOENIX, Ariz. – Right-hander James Mahler recorded eight quality innings and sophomore Troy Hunter went the distance as the Dixie State baseball team took down Grand Canyon twice, 4-2 (10 innings) and 9-4, in a Pacific West Conference doubleheader at Brazell Stadium.
Mahler struck out five, limiting the Antelope (18-17, 13-11 PWC) offense to two runs and five hits. Despite the quality start, Mahler received a no-decision. Kyle DiMartino picked up the win (2-0) scattering one hit in the Lopes’ ninth and Daniel Zapata struck out Danne Quiroz with the bases loaded in the 10th to secure his fourth save.
Hunter won his fourth straight appearance holding the daunting GCU offense to four runs and nine hits in the finale.
Dixie State (19-9, 15-5) bounced back with a pair of victories after seeing its season-long seven-game winning streak snapped Friday by Grand Canyon. DSC increased their lead in the Pac West to three games over idle Hawaii Pacific heading into a five-game series with the Sea Warriors beginning Wednesday.
The Red Storm offense collected eight hits in Saturday’s opener, with Tyson Littlewood going 3-for-5 and Sam Friend adding two hits, two runs and an RBI to lead the way.
Justin McKee was charged with the loss, surrendering two runs in the tenth inning. McKee had a walk, a strikeout and a wild pitch in 2.2 innings of relief.
Grand Canyon scored twice in the second inning to assume a 2-0 cushion. P.J. Garcia singled to right field scoring Tyler Bair for the first run. Kaleb Evans later scored from third on a double play ball for the Antelopes’ second tally.
DSC tied the game, 2-2, with single runs in each of the third and fourth innings. Eric Bond drew a one-out walk in the Storm third and scored when an errant throw sailed past first base. In the fourth, Friend led off with a base hit and advance to second base on a wild pitch. Joe Andrade singled to center with two outs to bring in Friend with the equalizer.
The Lopes had a chance to end the game in regulation, but R.J. Etchebarren was gunned down at home plate by a Jordan Hanley throw from left field.
Dixie State rode the momentum of the preceding defensive stop by notching two runs in the first extra inning. Trevor Goff tripled the kick off the frame and scored two batters later on Friend’s single. Tony Nelson provided some insurance with an RBI groundout, plating Friend.
Zapata entered for the Storm and recorded two quick outs. GCU responded by loading the bases with two singles and a walk. Zapata buckled down and struck out Quiroz swinging to end the contest.
In the second game, DSC took an early 1-0 lead with a Nelson run-scoring single in the first inning.
The Antelopes tied the game in the second inning with an unearned run, an error on Hunter.
Dixie State took a 5-1 lead in the top of the fourth. Nelson walked with one out and advance to third on an Andrade double. A wild pitch scored Nelson. Three straight run-scoring hits pushed the Red Storm lead to four runs – Bond doubled to the gap in right center while Nick Urban and Colton Yack both singled.
After GCU closed within one run, 5-4, an Andrade double and a Hanley single in the fifth inning pushed the cushion back to three runs.
The Red Storm set the final cushion with a Yack RBI single in the sixth and a pinch-hit sacrifice fly by Chase Pittsenbarger in the seventh.
Yack’s three hits and two hits a piece from Andrade and Bond paced the DSC 11-hit attack.
Coltin White allowed six runs on seven hits in four innings for the loss (5-3).
Dixie State travels to the Hawaiian Islands to begin a series with HPU on April 6. First pitch is at 7:00 p.m. Mountain from Hans L’Orange Park in Waipahu. Earlier in the season, DSC took three of four games played against the Sea Warriors at Bruce Hurst Field.
GAME NOTES: Goff has the longest active hitting streak for Dixie State – 17 games… Hunter has seen his season ERA drop from 10.03 on March 5 to 4.64 after his complete game on Saturday.