By: Aaron Gillespie
WOODSIDE, Calif. – The 2017 Golden State Athletic Conference (GSAC) tournament kicked off on Sunday morning with Menlo College hosting the event at nearby Cañada College. The Oaks used a thrilling come-from-behind victory in game one to advance to a meeting with the tournament's top seed, Hope International, later that day where they eventually fell to pull out a first day split. The loss sends the Oaks to the lower half of the bracket where they will take on the winner of #2 Biola and #4 The Master's at 3 p.m.
Game One – Menlo def. The Master's University 7-4
It was an early morning start and things looked grim early on for the Oaks as starter Jason Alexander struggled to find the zone and when he did, he was hit hard in the bottom of the first inning. The tournament's #4 seeded Mustangs jumped on the Menlo Ace early, tagging him for a pair of home runs to jump out to an early 3-0 advantage after just one frame.
Master's tacked on another run in the bottom of the third but that would be all they would get off Alexander as he found his command and settled into a groove. At one point, he retired 13-straight Mustang hitters as he gave the Oaks' hitters time to wake the bats up. And wake the bats up they did. GSAC Player of the Year Jordan Getzelman blasted his 26th home run of the season to right to make it a 4-2 game in the fourth inning and Menlo added two more in the fifth. That fifth inning included an RBI single from Nick Quejado to score Sam Morgan and a sacrifice fly to left from Joe Gillette that scored pinch runner Justin Bruce. The two-run fifth tied the game up at 4-4.
As previously mentioned, Alexander continued to put zeroes up on the board and really settled in to give the Oaks a great start and a chance to win. His final line included seven innings pitched and four runs on eight hits with five strikeouts and just one walk.
The big blow came to lead off the top of the eighth inning. With the game tied 4-4, Julian Jarrard stepped up to the plate and uncorked a no doubt blast to left for the eventual game-winning home run. The bomb was his 20th of the season, tying him for second place in the single-season record books with Lucas Erceg who previously held the record before it was broken by Getzelman.
Menlo added two more in the inning for good measure on RBI singles from Morgan and pinch hitter Eduardo Sanchez and they allowed relieve ace Kevin George the opportunity to do the rest. George picked up the save with a pair of perfect innings, striking out four and the Oaks picked up the victory, 7-4.
Game Two – Hope International 8, Menlo 4
Game two of the day for Menlo put them up against the GSAC regular season champion and top-seeded Hope International Royals at 3 p.m. Menlo pounded out more than enough hits off Hope starter Dominic Potlongo but the Royal ace weaved his way out of a number of jams to work his way to a complete game victory.
Menlo took the early lead in the top of the third inning however, as Dalton Maxwell blasted his sixth home run of the season to right to put the Oaks on the board first. Unfortunately for the Oaks, Hope answered in a big way in the home half of the third, blasting a three-run home run to left on a 3-2 pitch to take the lead which they would never relinquish.
Menlo used a Dean Aliamus RBI single that scored Getzelman in the top of the fourth to make it 3-2, but Hope added another in the bottom half of the inning to create some breathing room, 4-2.
Another crooked number in the bottom of the sixth, largely due to defensive miscues blew the game open. Menlo committed a total of three errors in the game and they proved costly as only five of the eight runs scored by the Royals were earned. The three-run sixth made it 7-2. Hope added another run in the seventh and Menlo threatened in the top of the ninth to make it interesting. They did that in the form of a Nick Quejado RBI double that scored Morgan and Aliamus, but the rally was cut short and Hope International was able to advance into the semifinals with the 8-4 win.
Brett Solano took the loss, his first of the season, going five innings allowing six runs (four earned) on eight hits while striking out four and walking two. Cruz Daddario worked a pair of innings in relief, allowing two runs (one earned) on two hits with two walks and a strikeout. Jordan Tagawa and Marcus Fukuhara combined to work a scoreless frame out of the Menlo pen.
Dalton Maxwell, Julian Jarrard, Jordan Getzelman and Sam Morgan all had two-hit afternoons at the plate for Menlo as they managed 11 hits off Potlongo. The Hope starter went the distance, allowing four runs (three earned) on 11 hits while striking out just two and walking one.