REDWOOD CITY, Calif. – The Vanguard Lions began the day as one of three teams left in the GSAC Tournament. The winner of the Lions and Mustangs would move on to face Hope International with the title on the line. Twenty five runs later, the Blue and Gold feel just short by a 14-11 count as the game ended with two VU runners on the base paths. Early in the contest, the Pride led 7-1 before the TMU bats awoke.
After giving up a solo home run in the top of the first inning, the Blue and Gold looked like they had taken firm control of the contest tossing a staggering seven runs on the scoreboard in the bottom of th second inning. Then, the Mustangs took advantage of some VU miscues and cut it to a 7-5 lead for the Lions entering the top of the fourth inning. TMU scored another tally which brought it to a 7-6 advantage for the Lions. Then, in the blink of an eye the lead turned into a 9-7 deficit as the Mustangs once again handed Vanguard a trailing position. The seasaw battle was not done as a three run sixth inning gave the Pride its second lead of the day, one that would hold for less than a half an inning. TMU tossed up three runs in their next at bat and follow it up with a pair in the eighth.
Brandon Sandoval (SR/Fallbrook, CA) (3-5) and Trai Patrick (SR/Everett, WA) (3-6) led the team at the plate in the game that took just under four hours to complete. Sandoval added a two runs scored as the duo each tallied two RBI. Brock Eissman (SR/San Clemente, CA) and Michael Fuchs (JR/Irvine, CA) each ended with two hits on the day as those four Lions did a bulk of the 14 hits. Vanguard lost despite holding a slight edge in hits (14-13) but the key factor in the contest was eight total errors, split evenly between the two sides.
Starter Tyler Steele (SO/Kingsburg, CA) pitched the first four innings of the contest before Kurt Gairing (JR/Corona, CA) saw brief action. Jake Mellenthin (SR/New Plymouth, ID), the Lions usual closer, was forced into long relief which took him 2.1 innings further into the game before handing it off. Josh Bailly (JR/Union City. CA) threw for an inning before Eissman tallied the final pitching duties.
The Lions will not await the NAIA National Tournament selection show on Thursday to see if they have been awarded one of the at large berths in the big dance.