Sorenson: Another Raucous SaturdayAnalysis
As an example of how weak the West has been this season in D1 baseball, the best game I could find to go to on Saturday was between Chico State and Cal Poly Pomona. Yes, another Division II game for me. On the heals of going to last week’s Catawba at Tampa game while I was working the Frozen Four in Tampa, I decided to make the drive out to Pomona to see the Broncos take on the Wildcats, in a showdown of the two best teams in the CCAA – which is the California Collegiate Athletic Association.
Chico State came into the game currently ranked at No. 28 in the Collegiate Baseball poll and CPP was under the “receiving votes” portion of the poll. Pomona took part in last year’s eight-team D2 College World Series last year in Cary, North Carolina. Two years ago CSU did the same thing, emerging from the West Regional to get to Cary. In the preseason poll, the Broncos weighed in at No. 10 and Chico State was “receiving votes.”
CSU came into the weekend with a 24-11 overall mark and 14-9 record in CCAA games, a half-game behind CSU Monterey Bay in the North Division
The Broncos entered at 22-12, 14-8 in the Southern Division, which was two games ahead of UC San Diego. The two teams were set for a double-header today at Scolinos Park in Pomona.
It wasn’t a total surprise to see the Broncos falling out of the national polls early on in the season since they lost five MLB draft picks last June. Yes, a D2 team with five draftees. One of the lost talents was staff ace Cody Ponce, who went to the Brewers in the second round.
Today, I was treated to a transcendent performance on the mound by Bronco starter Michael Koval, who threw 8.0 innings, giving up just three hits and going three-up, three-down in his last six innings of work. Talk about destroying their will to compete. In the second inning, Chico’s Cody Snider caught up to a Koval fastball and sent it to the gap for a stand up double. Snider immediately raised both arms and made “claws” of his hands, giving his dugout a growl as they did the same thing back to him.
That would be about all the cheering the Wildcats would do in this one. Snider came around to score on a pair of groundouts. But from that point on, Koval was totally nails, retiring the next 17 of the next 18 batters (the one would be eliminated on a double play) as part of that impressive string of six straight three-up, three-downs.
The bottom of the Pomona batting order would come up big on the offensive side of things as Ryan Webberley, Cody Martin and Nicholas Bruno each chimed in with two hits and a run scored. Bruno would get two RBI and three-hole hitter Jason Padlo would go 2-for-5 with three ribbies on an RBI triple and a two-RBI single in back-to-back at-bats in the fifth and sixth innings. Webberley’s fourth inning RBI single would give the Broncos the lead for good.
And of course, Koval would make sure that lead would never get threatened again, weaving his 89-to-91mph heater in with a very effective changeup and a biting sinker ball that he threw on occasion. Koval took over the staff ace role after Ryan Olson has been on the shelf for the last few weeks. Olson, a transfer from D1 San Diego, is also expected to be a high-round draft pick this coming June.
Koval came in with a record of 6-2 and a 2.26 ERA, holding opponents to a .219 average. And that was a good thing because the Wildcats lead the CCAA with a .338 team average. Today, due to Koval’s mastery, Chico just looked plain average. Koval’s final showed three hits, no walks and four Ks.
GAME 1 LINESCORE:
Chico State – 010 000 001 – 2 5 0
CP Pomona – 100 123 10x – 9 11 0
As any championship-quality team would do, the Chico State Wildcats rebounded big time with a 13-5 rout in game two. Sorry ‘Cats, I didn’t stick around for the second game, but this does even the series at 1-1 with the rubber game coming up on Sunday afternoon. I know, I know, it’s unfair that I only showed up for the game you guys lost.
A few images from today’s game at Scolinos Ballpark.
Now on to the other goings ons in college baseball on this Saturday…
The best of the day in college baseball.
1- Umpire Matthew Heersema
Sorry, gotta make this a personal one. After the game was done and while I was taking pictures of the Broncos celebrating, Heersma, the home plate umpire, came up to me as he was exiting the field and said, “Look who’s here… StitchHead. Nice of you to make it out today.”
I was taken aback for a few split-seconds and then introduced myself. Heersema said, “I’ve been reading your stuff for years so I’m a fan of your work.”
I told him in return, “Well if it matters, I was a fan of your work today as well.”
Here is the only picture that I got today where Heersema is in the frame. Sorry Matthew…
Way down in the deep desert, the Arizona Wildcats have taken down the Stanford Cardinal for the second straight night by a 4-1 count. But this time, instead of the adept pitching of Nathan Bannister, it was the Bear Down bats who went crazy, notching 13 hits, led by Ryan Aguilar and J.J. Matijevic both gathering three hits and Bobby Dalbec’s RBI single in the fifth inning accounted for the game-winning run. And Cameron Ming turned his first career start on the mound into a stellar 7.0 innings of shutout ball, scattering five hits and two walks. The Cats and Card entered the weekend at Nos. 67 and 68 in the RPI, so a pair of wins for the UofA will mean a lot more than simply pulling their Pac 12 record up to the .500 mark.
3- Louisville… again
For the second day in a row the Cardinals hold Clemson to two runs and win a yawner, this time by a 7-2 count. And credit the defense this time around as the Cardinals infielders turned four double plays and the UofL relief corps of Jake Sparger and Zack Burdi held the Tigers hitless for the final 2.2 innings. Starter Drew Harrington wasn’t totally sharp, allowing 11 hits in 6.1 innings, but he got the help he needed behind him and won his seventh straight start on the mound.
– The Lions get mad get even.
Southeastern Louisiana got a little peeved about being one-hit on Friday. So much so that the Lion batters decided to pound out 12 hits and 16 runs in their 16-5 romp of Louisiana. This win evened the series with their neighbors from Lafayette and also stopped a three-game losing streak. Carson Crites led the hit parade with a 3-for-5, 4RBI day. Ryan Byers chimed in with a 2-for-3, 5RBI day after smashing two home runs.
– The pitching in the Pepperdine-LMU series.
For the second day in a row, the Waves and Lions got a golden pitching performance in their WCC rivalry. This time, it was the Lion arms of Cory Abbott (8.0 innings, four hits, six Ks) and Sean Watkins (1.0inn., 0 hits, 0Ks) that shone this time in a 7-0 win that evens the series in Westchester. On Friday, the Waves won a 6-0 game behind the pitching of A.J. Puckett (7.0inns, four hits, six Ks) and three relievers.
Tony Kornheiser U. has to be walking tall tonight after taking a pair of games from the Hartford Hawks, 5-3 and 12-1. I will have to write more about this in the Ouch List on Sunday but the Hawks entered the weekend at No. 62 in the RPI, so losing twice to a team with triple digits certainly can’t help, just in case they were hoping to get into at-large territory. BU’s Paul Rufo went 2-for-2 with five RBI and Mike Bunai tossed a complete-game four-hitter as the Cats took game two.
– Pacific’s Gio Bursa
The Tiger DH went 3-for-3 with two home runs, a single and two intentional walks, which led to four RBI as Pacific bombed Portland 10-6. Seven of the Tigers’ 11 hits in the game were extra-base hits. This marked PU’s fourth straight win and improved their record to 14-18, 6-8 in WCC play.
– The Texas A&M bats.
My. Good. Ness. The Aggies abused Mississippi State pitching once again in StarkPatch to score a 10-6 win and cinch the series from the Bulldogs. This time out they posted 17 hits, 10 of which came from the top four hitters of J.B. Moss, Nick Banks, Boomer White and Hunter Melton. More about this in the Three Down below. Hang on.
– Alex Faedo, Florida.
The strapping 6’5 righty struck out 10 Arkansas batters over 6.1 innings of work and scattered five hits and one run as the Gators completed the sweep with an 8-2 win in Fayetteville. The sophomore starter escaped a bases-loaded one out jam with an infield fly out, a strike out and a fielder’s choice. After that, it was a Gator-fest, as Faedo kept the Hogs tied and the Gators scored five runs in the sixth inning and one run each in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings.
The worst of the day in college baseball.
1- Miami’s Michael Mediavilla
Ugh. If you had to lose your first game of the season, might as well do it in a big way, right? The Hurricane’s Saturday starter suffered his first “L” by giving up eight runs on eight hits in just 1.2 innings of work in The U’s 12-5 loss at Duke. It was Mediavilla’s most runs given up in a single game in his career. Jack Labosky, Peter Zyla and Zack Kone all accounted for three RBI for the Blue Devils. Kone went 5-for-5 on the day with three singles, a triple and a home run.By the way, it was the first loss for Miami since March 20th, covering a 12-game stretch.
2- Mississippi State pitching.
For the second day in a row the homestanding Bulldogs gave up a 10-spot to Texas A&M, dropping the series in the process. And this comes on the heels of them winning a series at No. 1 Florida a week ago where the bullpen was beyond reproach. Today, after starter Austin Sexton lasted just 3.0 innings, five Bulldog relievers combined to give up eight hits and five runs to allow the Aggies to take their second win at MSU. Oh and this time it came in front of 15,078 fans. It leaves us to ask, which MSU team will show up next?
3- This Tech is a Wreck.
For the fourth game in a row the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets could not outscore their opponent. For the second night in a row they got blown out at home by North Carolina State, 15-6. The Wolfpack scored eight runs in the first two innings and the top three of Stephen Pitarra, Josh McLain and Andrew Knizner were responsible for eight hits and seven runs. Georgia Tech used 10 pitchers in all and never really found the answer, as witnessed by their eight walks and two hit batsmen. The Jacket arms have given up 29 hits and 23 runs in their two losses to the Pac so far.
– Ugh, those painful Sooners.
I’ll probably save most of this for the Ouch List that will come out tomorrow, but OU lost a doubleheader at TCU today, by a run-ruled 12-2 score and a 2-0 blanking in game two. With the two losses the Sooners have now lost eight straight games to TCU, dating back to the 2014 season. Frogs starter Brian Howard faced just one batter over the minimum in his seven innings of work on the mound, allowing three hits and having four strikeouts.
– Mo State wakes up Wichita.
The Shockers have lied dormant for a long time now, but this weekend saw a bit of a rumbling from the Shocks as they took two of three from Missouri State, by virtue of today’s 11-1 rout in game two of a doubleheader. The Bears evened the series with a 4-1 win in game one, but game two went south in a hurry. WSU plated five runs in the first inning, three of which scored on wild pitches by Bears starter Ryan Dunne. Zach Lewis and John Hayes combined on a three-hitter with seven Ks as the game was shortened to seven innings due to the run-rule.
Enough for now StitchHeads.