Gators come back from previous day's defeat

The SF State men’s baseball team saw its undefeated streak come to an end at the hands of the Menlo College Oaks in the first leg of a three-game weekend series.

Still, despite a 10-2 loss at Atherton in game one, the Gators bounced back and won the next two games. They are 5-1 overall and won their second consecutive non-conference when they took the rubber match on Feb. 13.

“We set the bar as a program pretty high,” said second-year head coach Mike Cummins. “We want to continue to get better and be able to compete. It’s something we need to keep striding for.”

Kevin Dultz beats a tag at home plate from a past ball to take the lead in the bottom of the first inning in a 4-2 win against Menlo College Feb. 12. Sam E. Heller/staff photographer

Junior right-hander Branden Petrangelo took the mound in the second game of the series delivering another solid performance and in the process helped his team keep a perfect 4-0 record at Maloney Field as the Gators defeated the Oaks 4-2 on Feb. 12.

“I felt like I had command of my three pitches all day,” Petrangelo said. “My fastball, cutter and slider kept them off balance.”

Petrangelo cruised through seven innings before yielding to junior pitcher/shortstop Matthew Cummins, who came in to close the game. Petrangelo’s only trouble spot came when he gave up an unearned run in the first inning off an RBI single by Chris Mazza. The junior infielder drove in freshmen outfielder Collin Forgey from second base after a fielder’s choice and an error by junior infielder Thomas Wood put Forgey in scoring position.

According to Petrangelo, Saturday’s win not only evened up the loss against the Oaks the day before, but it also gave the team confidence to finish the three game series with a 2-1 record.

“This win definitely switched the momentum back to us,” Petrangelo said. “We won the series on Sunday and continued to scrap together runs.”

Petrangelo threw 103 pitches in the game, according to coach Cummins. He struck out 10 batters, walked one and gave up just one earned run on seven hits.

“Branden was as sharp as he was last week,” coach Cummins said. “He really competes and has good stuff. What makes him special is that he has this ‘go after them’ mentality.”

Petrangelo’s last win came on Feb. 5 when he pitched the entire first game of a doubleheader against the 15th ranked Fresno Pacific Sunbirds. In that game, the Gators’ offense also put together some clutch hits, resulting in a 2-1 victory.

SF State, however, struggled both offensively and defensively for most of the game against the Oaks on Saturday. SF State’s offense stranded eight runners on base, including leaving the bases loaded twice, while SF State’s defense committed two errors in the game.

“It was an average performance,” coach Cummins said. “We didn’t do a good job of hitting with men on base, but we found a way to win. I would like to see the team make fewer mistakes. We had six errors on Friday and two on Saturday. But it is still early in the season.”

Nevertheless, according to junior outfielder/pitcher Jason Ochart, one bright spot for the Gators during this game and for much of the season has been the aggressive running from all of the players on the base paths. Ochart, who went 1-2 in the game and drove in one run, credits the Gators’ base running success to coach Cummins.

“Coach always instills aggressiveness,” he said. “It puts pressure on our opponents and, well, it was a good team win. We manufactured some runs.”

The Gators’ four runs came in a variety of ways: a wild pitch by the Oaks’ starting pitcher, sophomore Derek Martinez, in the first inning; a passed ball that scored junior outfielder Dustin Wold, as well as a fielder’s choice by Ochart, in the second inning; and one from junior third baseman/catcher Andrew Suvunnachuen in the sixth inning. Still, the important thing for coach Cummins is that his team executes better on scoring opportunities.

“Every game is important,” coach Cummins said. “Every game is different. We are playing a lot of guys right now to find out who will be ready when conference games start.”

Senior right-hander Nic Banaugh pitched in the third game back at Atherton. Banaugh not only attacked the Oaks by pounding the strike zone inning after inning, but he also won his first game of the season.

At six-foot-one and 200-pounds, the Novato, Calif., native had eight strike outs, no walks and two unearned runs on two hits in six innings.

“We always play better on the last game of a series,” Banaugh said. “I got to see the same lineup that Branden pitched to. Seeing him go out there and take charge just fired me up.”

Not to be outdone, the Gators’ offense got rolling and contributed to Sunday’s win by scoring six runs. Of the six runs scored, three came off two towering home runs.

In the first inning, Drew Andersen scored Wood from first with an RBI double to right-center by senior infielder Drew Andersen. Two sacrifices later, by senior catcher Kevin Dultz and junior first baseman Michael Sanchez respectively, Wood scored from third making the score 2-0.

Ochart’s two-run home run in the fourth inning extended to a 4-0 game.

The Gators’ second home run would come in the following inning when Wood, who finished the game with three hits, one stolen base and two runs, hit his first of the season off senior right-hander Adam Koontz.

“I basically just tried to stay relaxed during that at-bat,” Wood said. “I told myself to see the ball. As long as I did those two things, something great was going to happen.”

Although hitting a home run felt good, especially because it meant that a run was put on the board, Wood said that the Gators could not have won this series without good pitching from the bullpen.

“You can’t go anywhere without good pitching,” he said. “We have been fortunate. The whole team has a lot of confidence in them. It’s fun playing defense when those guys are on the mound.”

Senior right-hander AJ Comaskey pitched the seventh and eighth innings while junior right-hander Jeff Clegg came on in the ninth to seal the 6-2 victory. Comaskey and Clegg each seemed unhittable at times and combined to allow only two hits in the game.

“Pitchers are feeding off each other,” Cummins said. “We haven’t given up a run in the seventh, eight and ninth innings so far this season. This is something we can continue to build upon.”

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