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Gercken, ART U Baseball Defense Shut Down California Baptist

BASE - Nate Gercken (by Eric Manlove)

Nate Gercken. Photo by Eric Manlove.

A beautiful performance on a beautiful evening was what the Academy of Art University baseball team was treated to on March 12, as senior starting pitcher Nate Gercken (Multimedia Communications) threw a complete game shutout while the Urban Knights played sound defense to beat California Baptist 4–0 in the opener of a four-game Pacific West Conference series at Laney College.

The evening began with a soft, partly cloudy backdrop as the sun set across the Bay. Gercken accented the scene by retiring his first six batters and facing the minimum through the first four innings. Gercken would go the full nine innings with only one California Baptist (8–11, 0–1 PacWest) runner advancing to third, and that was on a fielding error in the eighth inning.

The Academy (8–11, 2–3 PacWest) defense was sound behind Gercken despite two errors, helping snap the Urban Knights’ five-game losing streak. The infield turned three double plays, including ending the eighth and ninth innings by turning two. The game-clincher was a 6-4-3 combo from junior shortstop Tyler Strawn, junior second baseman Cody Edmunds (Multimedia Communications) and senior first baseman Daniel Skinner (Multimedia Communications). Gercken forced 11 groundouts and five flyouts with his defense behind him while striking out eight.

Gercken’s nine-inning complete game shutout was the second of his career after beating Holy Names 2–0 in a complete game on April 12, 2014. It was the fifth nine-inning complete game victory in ART U history and the second nine-inning complete game shutout—both belonging to Gercken. It was Gercken’s fourth complete game of 2015 and 10th of his career, one shy of tying the ART U career record of 11 held by Zach Mexicano (2009–12).

The Academy’s offense also fared well behind Gercken. Edmunds went 1-for-3 with two runs scored and two stolen bases from the No. 9 spot, setting the table for ART U’s 1-2-3 hitters: junior center fielder Joseph Marchini (Multimedia Communications), junior left fielder Greg Ivory (Multimedia Communications) and senior designated hitter James Singzon (Acting). The trio went a combined 3-for-8 with three RBIs, a double, a triple and a run scored.

The Urban Knights first got on the board in the third inning, giving Gercken a 2–0 lead thanks to two doubles in the inning. Sophomore right fielder Daniel Gutierrez (Multimedia Communications) doubled to lead off the inning and was bunted to third base before scoring on an errant throw by CBU catcher Shane Fleming who was trying to gun down Edmunds at second on his first of two stolen bases. Singzon would bring home Edmunds two batters later with a two-out, full-count RBI double to deep center field, making it 2–0.

ART U added two more insurance runs in the fifth inning when Marchini hit his second triple of the season to bring home Edmunds, followed by Ivory singling past a drawn-in infield to score Marchini and make it 4–0.