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May 3, 2011 > Lady Pioneers take fourth at WWPA Championships

Lady Pioneers take fourth at WWPA Championships

By Giovanni Albanese Jr.

Over the span of three days, the Cal State University-East Bay Lady Pioneers water polo squad earned its best finish at the Women's Water Polo Association (WWPA) Championships, taking fourth in the nine-team tournament.

East Bay opened the tournament - which they hosted courtesy of Chabot College in Hayward - as the No. 5 seed and took on No. 4 Colorado State on Friday, April 29. Colorado State knocked out the Lady Pioneers in the first round of the WWPA tourney last year, but couldn't duplicate the feat.

In the Lady Pioneers 10-5 win they outscored the Rams 3-0 in the first period and 2-1 in the second to take a 5-1 halftime lead. After the break, East Bay won the third period by a 2-1 count and split the final stanza 3-3 for the final result. Jayme Pekarske was stellar in goal, helping East Bay break its three-game losing skid with eight saves. Claire Pierce led the offense with four goals; Liz Warren and Danielle Comforti chipped in with a pair of goals each.

A day later, Saturday, April 30, in the semifinals against top-seeded Loyola Marymount, the Pioneers couldn't find the same cohesion that led them to the upset of CSU. Marymount, who earned its way into Saturday's semifinal with a 15-3 win over No. 8 Cal State Monterey Bay, kept its offensive punch with a 14-7 win over East Bay.

Similar to what East Bay did to the Rams on Friday, the Lions did to them on Saturday, jumping to an early, insurmountable lead. Loyola topped East Bay 5-0 in the first period and didn't look back. After the second period, it 9-0 and was all but over. East Bay put up a fight in the second half, outscoring the Lions 7-5 to make it interesting, but the deficit was too large to overcome. Pierce, again, led the way with three goals, while four other Pioneers scored single goals. Pekarske had 10 saves in the loss.

On Sunday, to finish up the tournament, East Bay was playing with house money, knowing they would conclude the tourney with its best ever finish at WWPA's year-end event. In the way of East Bay and a third-place finish was No. 3 Santa Clara. Santa Clara got into the third-place match with a win over No. 6 Sonoma State (7-4 on Friday) and loss to No. 2 UC San Diego (9-7 on Saturday).

Despite its best efforts, the Lady Pioneers could no upset Santa Clara, finishing the tournament in fourth with a 7-4 loss. Pekarske made four saves - all in the first half - to help keep East Bay in the contest. It was close throughout, with Santa Clara holding a 3-2 halftime edge after a 3-2 first period was followed up by a scoreless second. East Bay went into the fourth with a 4-3 lead after winning the third frame 2-0, but Santa Clara dominated the fourth by a 4-0 clip, to take third.

Whitney Bell led the offense with a pair of goals for East Bay (20-15) who now await their fate for an at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament in Michigan in mid-May. Pierce earned first-team all tournament honors over the weekend, while Pekarske got a second-team nod.

Pioneers sweep Grand Canyon to end season
CSUEB baseball was in Arizona over the weekend, taking on Grand Canyon University in a three-game set from Friday, April 29, through Sunday, May 1. After a season of struggles, the Pioneers will end on a high note, sweeping the series and going out winners of seven of its last 10 games.

In the series opener on Friday, the Pioneers out-slugged Grand Canyon for a 13-6 win. Led by a seven-run eighth inning, it was the top of the order that did most of the damage. First-, second-, third- and fifth-place hitters Charlie Sharrer, Aaron Brown, Andrew Woolfe and Josh Rush each had a pair of RBIs for the Pioneers in the win. Nick McManus went 4-5 with an RBI to chip in. Brandyn Bell improved to 6-2 on the season with 6 1/3 innings of eight-hit, four-run ball. Bell struck out seven along the way.

On Saturday, in game two of the series, the Pioneers one-upped Grand Canyon in a pitchers' duel, 3-2. Paul Jinkens of East Bay was dueling with a trio of GCU pitchers. Jinkens improved to 1-6 on the season with a complete-game victory, allowing seven hits and the two runs while striking out six.

East Bay led 1-0 after a GCU error allowed Sharrer to score. Grand Canyon plated two in the fifth to take a one-run lead. But East Bay tied it up in the seventh on a Woolfe sac fly, and in the ninth, with the score still knotted at 2, McManus knocked in Sharrer with a double.

To conclude the series and season on Sunday, the Pioneers again won another pitchers' duel, this time by a 4-3 score. Bryce Miller got the win for East Bay, going 6 1/3 innings, allowing three runs (two earned) while striking out four. East Bay scored three, first-inning runs to go ahead early, hanging on in the end. Jared Berrier hit into a fielder's choice in the sixth inning, plating East Bay's (18-32) fourth run, which proved to be the game winning RBI. Berrier had two RBIs for East Bay to lead the offense on Sunday.

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