For the Grand Canyon Antelopes, it was a win and play one more or go home game. With their backs against the wall, the Lopes played with everything to win.
The scoring started early for the Antelopes as Brian Kraft led off the game with a double down the left field line. He was then moved to third and Derek Mendoza hit a hot shot down to third which the Chico State third baseman couldn’t handle, letting Kraft score and Mendoza to be safe at first.
The Wildcats tied the game in the third inning when they were able to put together a few hits but the Antelopes came right back and scored a run of their own when catcher Steven Swingle singled in Charles Wagner to put the score at 2-1.
Chico State again scored to tie the game but with two outs and two runners on, Brian Kraft went long ball over the right field fence to push the Antelope lead to 5-2.
Heading into the seventh inning, things became a little weird as both Chico State head coach Dave Taylor and first base coach Cody Foster were both ejected for arguing a controversial infield fly rule call. To make matters even more bizarre, Grand Canyon pitcher Cody Repenning, who was pitching in relief, proceeded to hit back to back Wildcat batters, which eventually tied the game at 5.
After the Wildcats took the lead in the top of the eighth inning, the resilient Antelopes continued to put together base hits. With runners in scoring position, it was clutch hitter Paul Panaccione who singled in two runs to help Grand Canyon take a 7-6 lead. With runners still in scoring position, Charles Wagner roped a single scoring two more Antelope runners to extend their lead to 9-6.
That was all Grand Canyon needed as they were able to close out the ninth inning and forced a win or go home situation for both teams.
In this win or go home, winner take all match up, it was the Grand Canyon Antelopes who drew first blood as it was again Paul Panaccione who knocked a single to score two runs to put the Lopes up 2-0. It was Panacciones two run single in the first game that put the Antelopes ahead and to which Grand Canyon won.
In the fourth inning, with Derek Mendoza on second, Brandon Smith crushed a hanging breaking ball down the left field line, scoring Mendoza and pushing the Antelope lead to 3-0.
In the bottom half of the fourth, the Wildcats threaten to score but Naderer was able to force Peters to hit into an inning ending 4-6-3 double play. The Antelopes made a huge first out of the inning, as the Wildcats had a runner on first and Pierson Jeremiah crushed a deep fly ball to right center field that continued to get carried out to the warning track because of the wind but it was Lopes center fielder Kyle Raidy who made a last second snag that helped keep the runner on first and eliminate any possibility of having the runner advance from first.
Up until the fourth inning, Naderer had sat down the first nine batters he faced, striking out 3 Wildcats. He finished after the fourth inning, allowing only two hits, gave up one walk and had 55 total pitches.
In the bottom of the sixth inning, the Wildcats again threaten when Kyle Detwiler allowed a one out walk then hit the next batter. Detwiler then proceeded to throw two balls and Antelopes head coach Andy Stankiewicz made a pitching change in the middle of the at bat. Chico State head coach argued that because there was already a visit to the mound that Detwiler had to finish the at bat. The umpires agreed and even though Jorge Perez had already finished his warm up throws on the game field mound, Detwiler had to come back out to finish the at bat. With the small break that Detwiler had, he came back and forced Pierson Jeremiah to hit into a 6-3 double -play to end the inning.
Grand Canyon tacked on another run in the seventh inning when Panaccione hit a sac fly that brought home Lindmark who had a bunt single to lead off the inning.
In the eighth inning, with Medoza and Swingle on second and third with only one and the infield playing in, Brandon Smith hit a blooper over the Wildcat first baseman which brought home both runners and extended the Antelope lead to 6-0.
Chico State finally scored their first run in the eighth inning. They scored again in the bottom of the ninth inning when Webber, with runners on first and third, hit into a 4-6-3 double play. The score was 6-2 but it was too late as the Antelopes battled back to beat Chico State and advance to the Division II College World Series in North Carolina.