Baseball likely one win away from securing NAIA regional bid
Baseball made huge strides to secure a top-three seed in the Golden State Athletic Conference tournament with three wins last week against Point Loma Nazarene University. But they needed help from a certain conference foe to gain ground on third-place The Master’s College.
The team quickly became Concordia University’s biggest fans this past week. After being swept by Concordia just a few weeks earlier, resulting in a significant setback in the team’s playoff push, Biola knew they could benefit greatly from Concordia defeating Master’s in as many games as possible.
Master’s losses open door for Eagles to enter playoffs
Biola got what they wanted, as Master’s lost three of four to Concordia and took a beating from Vanguard University in a makeup game on Monday, solidifying their final conference record at an even 16-16. With Master’s bye week coming in the final week of conference play, Biola, whose record stands at 15-13, now needs just one win this week against San Diego Christian College to assure a third-place finish in the conference.
“I think whoever finishes third is going to get an automatic bid to [NAIA] regionals,” head coach John Verhoeven said. “A fourth place team may get it, they may not.”
The Eagles’ sweep of Master’s last month will prove highly advantageous. Should Biola take just one game from San Diego Christian this week, the Eagles would hold the tiebreaker and finish third.
Late season momentum will carry Biola into playoffs
Beyond winning just one game, the team knows the significance of momentum heading into the GSAC Tournament and isn’t taking this week’s games lightly.
“It’s important to get on a winning streak before playoffs,” junior pitcher Chris Baek said. “We just haven’t gotten on a winning roll so it would be nice.”
San Diego Christian sits in eighth place in the conference with a 10-18 record and has arguably been the worst team statistically in the GSAC. The Hawks have scored the second fewest runs and their pitchers have given up the most runs, which bodes well for Biola and its streaking offense.
The Eagles have averaged just more than 6.5 runs per game over the last seven games, winning five of those seven.
Fages’ four home runs propel hot streak
GSAC Player of the Week, third baseman Drake Fages, has been the hottest of the bunch. He’s gone 10-for-29 in the last seven games, hitting four home runs and driving in 14 runs, accounting for just under a third of the team’s RBIs.
Fages, who hit all four of his home runs against Point Loma, acknowledged the team’s improved plate discipline, something Verhoeven has talked about the entire season.
“Laying off of pitches out of the zone is a tough habit to break,” Fages said. “I just remind guys to stick to the plan and execute, and to see the ball right out of the pitcher’s hand. But this week was better and it showed.”
Barring inclement weather, Biola will open the four-game set with San Diego Christian on April 26 with a home doubleheader and will play another doubleheader to finish the regular season Saturday in El Cajon, Calif.