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Food poisoning paves way for GCU catcher's No. 1 play on SportsCenter top 10

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Posted at 3:30 PM, May 09, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-09 22:01:53-04

Last weekend, Grand Canyon sophomore catcher Griffin Barnes made national headlines by making this ridiculous catch.

Not bad for a guy who wasn't even supposed to play that day.

Barnes, whose catch in the fourth inning of GCU's win over visiting Seattle U on Saturday night was ranked No. 1 on SportsCenter's top 10 plays for the day, learned just a half-hour before the game began that he would be starting behind the plate.

"(Senior catcher) Josh Meyer was supposed to start, and he got food poisoning. So I didn't find out I was going to play until 35 minutes before the game," Barnes told ABC15. "I was prepared but it kind of caught me off-guard."

The bunt that Seattle's Chase Wells attempted to lay down caught Barnes off-guard, as well-- but he kept his composure, allowing him to catch a ball that went off his left forearm, then his right hand, and finally into his glove.

"I wasn't expecting a bunt," he said. "He popped it up. I heard (GCU coach Andy Stankiewicz) yell, 'Up!'"

At first, Barnes wasn't sure where the ball had gone. "I was taking my mask off, and I felt it. I saw it right in front of my face," he said.

When Barnes realized he wouldn't be able to glove the ball right away, he improvised by keeping it in the air long enough to make the out.

"I tried to hit it up a second time, and I was able to do it. It hit me in the forearm, or my wrist or whatever, popped it up and stayed with it and caught it," he said.

"I was just happy I caught it. (There were runners on) second and third. I think there was one out at the time. It was still a game -- 5-0 at the time. It was still a close game. Anything could happen. I was just happy to make an out and get Rep (starting pitcher Jake Repavich) another shot, and get out of that jam."

During the play, Barnes did well to remember the ball wasn't allowed to strike his mask. 

"Right after it happened, the umpire told me, 'Good thing you didn't use your mask,' because that would've been a balk or an error or something -- I don't know, some ruling," he said.

When he went back to the dugout after the inning, Barnes said he didn't really think he'd done anything special.

"Honestly, I didn't really think anything of it. Just kept moving forward with the game," he said. "Some of my teammates said it was kind of crazy. They were messing around and saying 'SportsCenter' in the dugout."

Barnes also contributed two hits, a run and an RBI in what turned into a 19-0 GCU victory Saturday night. He said his SportsCenter highlight has been "a pretty good experience" and he's heard from a lot of friends and family since making the play.

Barnes doubts he'd be able to make the play if he had to do it over again. But he's relieved the play turned out the way it did -- even though his teammate had to suffer through a bout of food poisoning to make it a reality.

"That play, it just kind of happened in slow motion for me, which is weird. Usually it kind of speeds up. But just being able to slow things down helped me perform," he said.

"Those type of plays you don't really practice. It just kind of happens. It's just part of the game. It's what makes baseball so fun."