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UND pitcher Andrew Thome hurls a ball Friday evening against Grand Canyon. Darren Gibbins, special to the Herald

UND BASEBALL: Grand Canyon downs UND 3-1

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Time is running out on the UND baseball team’s chances of qualifying for the Western Athletic Conference postseason tournament.

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Grand Canyon downed UND 3-1 on Friday at Kraft Field in the opener of a three-game WAC series. And the loss was another frustrating one for UND. Of North Dakota’s last seven losses, five have been by three or fewer runs.

“The biggest thing we have going on right now is being in close games but not coming through,” said UND coach Jeff Dodson, who held a 20-minute postgame meeting with his team in right field. “It gets very frustrating.”

UND had its chances against Grand Canyon, a Phoenix university in its first season of Division I competition. North Dakota stranded runners at second and third in the seventh inning and one more at second in the eighth.

And the Antelopes sealed the win by turning a 4-6-3 double play in the ninth to close out the game.

UND dropped to 8-11 in the WAC and 10-24 overall. The top six teams in the final WAC regular-season standings advance to the league’s postseason tournament later this month in Mesa, Ariz.

UND is in seventh place in the WAC and was two games behind New Mexico State in the loss column as the Aggies headed into weekend league play. UND has five league games remaining, two at home this weekend against Grand Canyon and three next weekend at first-place Sacramento State.

“I think a .500 record gets us in,” said Dodson. “If we don’t get that, we’ll need a little bit of help. And it doesn’t help when you put yourself in this position early and finish up with the second- and first-place teams in the league.”

The Antelopes, as a first-year Division I program, are not yet eligible for WAC or NCAA postseason play. But they are in second place in the WAC with a 15-7 record (26-20 overall).

Grand Canyon belted out 12 hits but managed only three runs off UND starter Andrew Thome. The Antelopes scored two in the third on Michael Pomeroy’s single. In the sixth, Grand Canyon’s Ben Mauseth led off with a triple and scored on Brandon Smith’s sac fly.

Andrew Naderer went the distance to pick up his eighth win of the season. He struck out seven and walked three. Also, he survived a wicked line shot by UND’s Patrick Riewer to end the third. Naderer was struck in the chest, but still managed to throw out the UND runner.

UND’s lone run came in the fifth on Luis Calvo’s fielder’s choice.

UND was led by Dalton Parrott’s 3-for-3 showing. Taylor Pedersen added two hits.

“We have to kick it in high gear and start winning some close games,” said Parrott. “We need to find a way to get over the hump and score one or two more runs. Today, we just couldn’t come through with the big hit.”

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