Warriors Clinch GSAC Championship
COSTA MESA, Calif. – The Warriors have accomplished what eight GSAC teams set out to do way back in January. They have walked off the field with their heads high and their GSAC Conference Championship trophy even higher. Jessup battled, back and forth, with respectable opponent Hope International today, eventually edging the Royals by a single run to claim the title. With this victory, the Warriors advance to 38-15 on the season and will continue to look to add to the win column hosting the upcoming NAIA West Coast Regional.
The Warriors would start off the biggest game of their season in convincing fashion. Senior pitcher, Justin Vlotho, would go three up, three down in the top of the first, only to be followed by a pair of runs in the bottom of the frame. A trio of singles from Will Law, Steve Pastora, and Austen Swift would load the bases for clean up hitter Cal Koga. A fly out from the catcher would score Law to put the first run of the day up on the board. Joe Starick would follow, putting the ball into play and scoring Pastora on a fielder’s choice, giving Jessup the early 2-0 lead.
The Royals weren’t quiet for long as they brought across 5 runs of their own in the top of the second to claim the 5-2 lead.
Jessup would showcase their hitting strength, as they put up a 4 spot in the bottom of the third. Pastora would start it off with with a single, who was soon pushed to second as Swift took his base on a hit by pitch. Koga would walk, loading the bases for Starick. The designated hitter, who seems excel in clutch situations, knocked a single to bring Pastora and Swift across the plate. Curtis would follow with a single of his own, allowing a speedy Joey Torres, pinch running for Koga, and Starick to come home. These back to back 2 RBI singles would allow Jessup to take back the lead, 6-5.
Hope, determined to stay in the ball game, would smash a solo homer in the top of the fifth to even it back out, once again, at 6 apiece.
Hope would take the lead in the top of the sixth as they brought one around the bases but Jessup would answer back in the bottom of the frame. Pastora, now on the mound, would take his base on a hit by pitch, replaced by courtesy runner Grant Doi. With one runner on, Swift would step into the box and hit a bomb over left field, stealing the lead back from Hope, 8-7.
Curtis, moving from shortstop to pitch, would arguably have his best performance of the year. The two way senior went three full innings, retiring 6 batters, allowing no hits, and earning his 6th save of the year.
“Today was a testament to the character of our team. We had our backs against the wall against a very good team and found a way to fight back. I’m extremely proud of our kids and look forward to continuing to compete with them,” concludes Head Coach Jake McKinley.
The Warriors will get back to their home field for the NAIA West Coast Regional, as Jessup will host the 5 team tournament at McBean Park starting on May 14th-17th. Schedules for the regional will be released May 9th.