Gator losing streak comes to an end

SF State pitcher, Jeff Clegg throws the final pitch against Sanoma State outfielder, Steven Filippi, in the final inning of the April 17 game. Gators won with a final score of 5 to 4. Gil Riego Jr. / special to Xpress

Sunday’s much-needed victory over Sonoma State could be the inspiration that the SF State baseball team needs to regain a positive outlook on what has been a challenging season.

The Gators (13-27, 8-24) snapped a seven-game losing streak with a 5-4 victory over their bitter rivals, the 28th-ranked Sonoma State Seawolves.

The Gators, who have been struggling to piece together a winning season, saw an opportunity in the successes of Sunday’s game to turn it all around.

“We’ve been battling,” said junior infielder Will Klein. “It’s been a tough season for us, but everybody stuck together today and had each other’s backs. I think that’s a lot of what gave us the win today.”

Klein had an impressive three RBIs, including a two-out, run-scoring single in the bottom of the eighth inning that would lock down a Gator victory.

After several tough losses in close games, Klein admits that the team had been struggling to maintain a positive outlook.

“The team morale was kind of down in the dumps after all the losses,” Klein said. “But it feels good to get that win.”

The Gators and Seawolves battled back and forth for the first several innings; Sonoma opened up the second inning with a run by infielder Randy Wells. Disaster was averted, however, as SF State junior pitcher Nic Banaugh shut down the Sonoma bats and got out of a bases-loaded jam.

SF State evened the score in the bottom of the second inning with an RBI single from Will Klein that scored junior outfielder Chris Schindler.

Klein added another RBI single in the bottom of the fourth that would reclaim the Gator lead 2-1.

“(Klein’s) been having pretty good at-bats and he found the hole today,” said head coach Mike Cummins. “He’s a scrapper. Today it all came together for him.”

The sixth inning belonged to the Seawolves, who recorded three runs to reclaim the lead 4-3. But a combination of solid pitching, strong defense, good hitting and a touch of luck would turn it around for the Gators by the eighth inning.

Banaugh, who pitched the first six innings, allowed four runs, struck out four and walked two before being lifted for reliever junior Jeff Clegg. Clegg also played an instrumental role in the Gator victory, preserving the one-run deficit with three scoreless innings. The junior noted that such crucial moments are when he truly thrives.

“I felt I did my job to keep the game as close as possible and give our hitters a chance to win,” Clegg said. “I like those pressure situations; I like coming in in those close spots. I feel that’s when I do best.”

While the win was a sigh of relief for the team, Cummins recognized the challenge that lies ahead in upcoming matches, including a non-conference duel with Division I University of San Francisco Tuesday.

“We’ve got 10 games to go, we want to finish strong and build some momentum for next year,” Cummins said. “Our goal all year has been to play good baseball. We’ve had our moments, but not enough of them.”

Clegg also agreed that the season so far has left a lot to be desired and that Sunday’s win was an important step in recovering from prior defeats.

“We’ve had a lot of one-run losses,” Clegg said. “They’ve been close games, and most of them have been pretty heartbreaking. Any win now gives us some kind of momentum.”

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