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Grand Canyon will travel to Tucson and open the NCAA baseball regional against the Pac-12 champion Arizona Wildcats on Friday night at 7 at Hi Corbett Field.

This is the first time GCU (39-19-1) has played in the 64-team NCAA Division I baseball tournament.

There are 16 regionals, with GCU part of a four-team, double-elimination field at the University of Arizona that includes No. 2 Oklahoma State and No. 3 UC Santa Barbara.

Arizona (40-15) is No. 1, and GCU No. 4.

The Wildcats are seeded fifth nationally.

GCU lost twice and tied once at Oklahoma State early in the season, when the Cowboys were ranked No. 15 nationally.

UC Santa Barbara and Oklahoma State play at 1 p.m., Friday at Hi Corbett.

UA and GCU split their two meetings during the regular season. Shortstop Channy Ortiz’s walk-off home run in the bottom of the 10th inning lifted GCU to a 5-4 win at Grand Canyon on April 13.

In Tucson on May 4, Arizona beat the Antelopes 13-2 at Hi Corbett Field.

“I do think the familiarity will help us,” said GCU coach Andy Stankiewicz, who won his 300th career game Saturday in the WAC final. “We’ve played at Hi Corbett. Our guys have been there. The team in the tournament is very good. We hope to have a lot of our fans there.”

See you soon Tucson #LopesUp x

— Grand Canyon Baseball 🏆 (@GCU_Baseball) May 31, 2021

Center fielder Brock Burton is excited to be opening against UA.

“Were full of confidence, regardless of who we play, but to see an in-state rival that we get to play Friday night, it’s going to be special,” Burton said. At the end of the day, we have a chance against anybody. We cant wait to get out there.”

GCU could be a dangerous team with its front-line and back-end pitching.

But whether Stankiewicz starts his ace, right-hander Pierson Ohl, against the Wildcats to open is something he said he will discuss with his staff before making that decision.

Last week, in the WAC Tournament, Stankiewicz held Ohl for the second game, and it ended up working out, despite first-game starter Carter Young giving up three runs in the first inning and lasting just 2 ⅓ inning in the 5-4 win over New Mexico State. Reliever Nick Hull saved GCU that night with his 4 ⅔ inning, giving up no runs and striking out nine, matching his career high with 85 pitches thrown.

Ohl came back in the second game to blank Sacramento State in an 11-0, seven-inning run-rule win for his eighth win in eight starts and ninth in his last 10.

Ohl was named the WAC Pitcher of the Year.

“We’ll sit down and discuss that,” Stankiewicz said of his pitching strategy. “We’re fully aware of their players and their offense. It’s one of the best in the country. We know that. We understand that.”

Stankiewicz has one of the top closers in the nation in senior Frankie Scalzo, who had two saves in the WAC tournament, including getting the last three outs after GCU went ahead 5-4 in the top of the ninth inning on freshman Tyler Wilson’s RBI single.

“”We have been good on the mound,” Stankiewicz said. “They have a lot of weapons coming at your from every angle.”

Catcher David Avitia, who wasn’t able to make the Oklahoma State trip early in the season because of an injury, is looking forward to this regional, especially with so many of his friends and family members who will be able to make the trip.

“We’re a very confident team,” Avitia said. “It’s a good feeling to know that we played them and we know what they got. But they also know what we have.”

GCU went 29-7 in WAC play, before going 3-0 in the WAC tournament.

“When you win three straight in the WAC tournament, it’s good,” Stankiewicz said. “The guys are playing well. We’ve got balance in our pitching staff and we’ve got balance in our offense.

“We don’t want to just get to a regional.”

To suggest human-interest story ideas and other news, reach Obert at or 602-316-8827. Follow him on Twitter @azc_obert.

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