The SF State men’s baseball team started its season Friday with a three-game sweep at a non-conference series, a feat they have not accomplished in two years. The victories began Feb. 4 when the Gators defeated the Fresno Pacific Sunbirds 5-1 at Maloney Field.
After defeating the Sunbirds, SF State won the next two games back-to-back in a doubleheader match on Feb. 5, earning a perfect start to its season.
The last time the Gators wrapped up a homestand and started a season with a 3-0 record was in 2009 when they beat the Academy of Art University and Oregon Tech.
“It is a wake-up call to other teams,” said senior catcher Kevin Dultz. “I know other teams look down on us, but we are here to stay.”
According to senior infielder Drew Andersen, who had two RBI and hit the game-winning single in the first game of the doubleheader, the three wins over the Sunbirds is significant because the Gators failed to accomplish such an achievement all of last season.
“It means a lot,” Andersen said. “Last year we did not sweep a team. To win all three games is extremely good because it has not been done in a long time.”
The first game of the doubleheader turned out to be a pitching duel. The Sunbirds’ junior starting right-handed pitcher Jesse Darrah and senior reliever Kyle Lovero combined to pitch a no-hitter through three innings before the Gators scored their only two runs of the game in the fourth inning.
After giving up a single to junior first baseman Michael Sanchez in the bottom of the fourth, Lovero walked junior outfielder Ian Fregosi, putting runners on first and second base. Both advanced on junior outfielder Jason Ochart’s bunt, then with two outs, Andersen broke the game wide open for the Gators by hitting a single to left field over Sunbirds’ third baseman Scott Laird’s head to score Sanchez and Fregosi.
“This was a big win,” Andersen said. “We needed a big hit there and I didn’t miss it.”
On the other hand, Gators’ starting right-hander Branden Petrangelo pitched all nine innings for a complete game and his first win of the season.
The Sunbirds got to Petrangelo early, scoring one run off a single up the middle in the first inning. According to Dultz, Petrangelo settled down the rest of the game and threw an absolute gem, striking out five batters while walking two.
“Me and him were on the same page,” Dultz said. “We just clicked. Branden was unbelievable. It is hard to beat that performance.”
The second game started much like the first with the Sunbirds scoring a run in the first before the Gators’ bats came alive in the bottom of the third inning when junior third baseman Nic Gauldin tripled. Junior shortstop Will Klein came to the plate and tied the game by driving in Gauldin with a sacrifice fly.
In the following at-bats, SF State would have runners on first and second base with its designated hitter on deck. Dultz scored both runs with a double to left-center field and scored the Gator’s third run in the inning.
“Kevin was our go-to guy last year,” said SF State head coach Mike Cummins. “He bats third and we need him to. He caught on Friday and for the first game on Saturday; then he closed for the second game of the doubleheader. He just wants the ball at the end and that’s big.”
With his team holding a slim 3-2 lead, Cummins put the ball in the hands of Dultz, who after catching the first game entered the game in the eighth as the closer.
Dultz proceeded to get the last six outs in the game, including two strikeouts, though not without some tension.
With two outs in the final inning, the Sunbirds put the tying runner on third base before Dultz forced junior outfielder Blaine Taylor to swing and miss at a high third strike. Spectators cheered and Gator players ran onto the field to celebrate the sweep.
“We only gave up four runs all weekend,” Cummins said. “We didn’t make any errors and had good situational hitting. I’m very pleased with the way the team played. We swept a good team and we’re making strides to changing the program.”