Solid pitching and fielding were not enough to prevent the SF State men’s baseball team from losing at home to conference rivals Cal State San Bernardino Sunday. The final game of the four-game series ended 2-3.
The loss puts the Gators at 15-30 overall, and 12-24 in California Collegiate Athletic Association games. The Coyotes improved to 25-16, 22-14 in CCAA play, with their four-game series win.
Timely hitting and controversial calls were two of the factors that went against the Gators in the game, as the team failed to capitalize on several opportunities; SF State batters either popped out or struck out in multiple situations.
Both teams were quiet the first four innings, but the visiting Coyotes picked up the pace after scoring two runs on two hits. Starting pitcher Watts would recover and help keep the Gators competitive. He allowed only two more hits in his five innings of work, lowering his season earned run average to 6.79 despite not striking out a single batter.
The Gators came back with three strong innings with relief pitcher Lopez. He helped the home team get back in the game after allowing only two base runners in three innings of work and striking out four Coyote batters.
“They were hitting their spots, getting ground balls and pop flies; our defense had their back,” said Miguel Flores, a Gator shortstop who had one hit in four at-bats Sunday. “They were on point today.”
Pitching would be a theme all day as both teams failed to score again until the eighth inning. The Coyotes’ starting pitcher Cory Caruso held the Gators in-check the entire game, striking out 11 players and allowing seven hits for a complete game victory. He improved his record to 3-4.
Caruso would leave nine Gator baserunners on base, minimizing the damage of their rallies, which would prove to be the turning point in the game.
“Their guy pitched very well. Eleven strikeouts, that’s way too many strikeouts for us. He made some big pitches when he had to,” Cummins said. “We had some chances and left some guys on base.”
The Gators began their comeback effort in the eighth inning after center-fielder Dustin Wold reached base on a throwing error by shortstop Mike Newell. Second baseman A.J. Almaraz moved Wold over to second base, and Flores singled up the middle to drive him in, cutting the Coyotes’ lead to 2-1.
The Gator comeback was short lived; the Coyotes immediately answered back with a run of their own when Newell drove in right-fielder Edwin Mendoza for the crucial third run.
SF State would respond with a run in their half of the ninth, but it would prove to be inconsequential after Almaraz struck out with a runner on second base to end the game.
“The deciding factor was probably that they had some clutch hits when they needed to get them done, we didn’t get the clutch hits when we needed them,” said catcher Mark Lindsay. “We out-hit them, they just got the big hits when they needed it.”
He led the Gators with three hits Sunday, and was seven for 15 during the series. But indicative of the team’s offense, he did not score or drive in a run in the four games.
The Coyotes outscored the home team 17-13 in the four-game set. The Gators went 1-4 in the series, after beating the Coyotes 4-3 Saturday.
“It was four competitive games. We could have won all four and we could have lost all four,” Cummins said. “We got a chance to go win another series and finish the season off on a strong note.”