RIVERSIDE, Calif. --- California Baptist University swept its biggest conference series to date, getting two wins over Grand Canyon to move into first place in the PacWest standings.
CBU launched eight home runs and put 20 runs up on the board to move to 34-6 overall, 17-4 in the PacWest. The Lancers overtook the Lopes in the standings, dropping GCU to 28-15, 15-5 with the two losses.
With five CBU seniors honored at the game, senior outfielder Kendall Gorham blasted three of the Lancers' long balls to lead the way.
"This was an emotional day because these seniors have meant so much to this program, but we told the girls they needed to channel that emotion and focus," said Head Coach Bill Baber. "They definitely did that and I think it helped them on the field."
One of the five graduating players, senior Emma Holden took the circle for the Lancers in the opener, going the distance in one of her most dominant starts of the season.
"Besides a couple of their batters who hit me pretty well, I felt really confident against them today," said Holden. "Everything felt smooth and it was just one of those days where when I make the pitch I know it's going to be a strike. Having my teammates hit like that always helps as well."
Holden was spotted a 5-0 lead when the Lancers exploded for five runs in the third inning.
Following a Sloan McHann RBI single, Gorham got her day started with a two-run double to right, sitting on an off-speed pitch and putting it in between defenders in the outfield. Immediately following that, senior right fielder Tina Galinato smashed a two-run shot to dead center, putting the Lancers up 5-0.
CBU scored all five of its runs in the inning with two outs.
Though she would get more support, the five runs were more than enough for Holden who struck out a season-high 15 batters in six innings pitched. She allowed one run on five hits, moving to 16-4 on the season. The 15 strikeouts were two away from her career high of 17, which was set in a 10-inning contest last season.
The runs kept coming for CBU, which scored three in the fourth before Gorham ended the game with a three-run walk-off homer in the sixth, her first of the day.
"We were all really hyped up throughout both of these games," said Gorham, who now leads the PacWest with 10 home runs. "I was seeing the ball so well today and was actually really relaxed at the plate. It felt great."
Gorham didn't wait long to get going in the second game, opening up yet another five-run inning for the Lancers with a leadoff solo-homer in the second inning. Marshean August later followed with her first career grand slam, putting the Lancers up 5-0.
After seven innings of play the Lopes finally found their offense, however, evening the contest in the bottom half of the second with five runs of their own.
The two teams played scoreless for the next two innings until CBU scored four runs in the fifth to go up for good.
Again Gorham was right in the midst of the offensive outburst, hitting the third of back-to-back-to-back solo home runs. Mara Rodriguez broke the 5-5 tie with her second homer of the day and McHann followed with her first, before Gorham capped her big day. The Lancers would add another on a Kailey Willingham single.
"We've said all year that we want the girls to focus on hitting line drives and the power would come," said Baber. "They definitely did that today and just ended up crushing some balls."
Tory Ferreira finished out the win stranding three runners in the final frame to work her way out of a bases loaded jam. In all Ferreira stranded nine GCU runners to move her season record to a PacWest best 18-2.
Both Gorham and Rodriguez had four hits on the day, with Gorham driving in a team-high seven runs. Rodriguez drove in four runs, matching August who got her four RBI with one swing of the bat. Galinato went 3 for 5 on the day with a pair of RBI and runs scored, and McHann was 3 for 7 with two RBI.
"It was great to see the girls out there playing the way they did," said Baber. "Everyone contributed, but especially the seniors. Lindsay Henry called two great games behind the plate, Tory battled through adversity all day and Emma was nearly unhittable. Tina and Kendall crushed the ball at the plate; it was just fun to watch. These girls have been doing that their whole careers here and it's what we've come to expect from them."
The Lancers have nine conference games left on the schedule, not counting the rained out doubleheader from yesterday which has yet to be rescheduled.
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