The win was bittersweet for the Gators, as they said goodbye to their senior athletes. The home team tightened up their defense after being swept at Saturday’s doubleheader. The Gators ended up finishing the game giving up one error, seven hits and two runs. The victory leaves the Gators with an overall record of 17-32 and a conference record of 14-26.
Former first baseman Tyler Tulowitzki, whose season was cut short due to an injury to his lower left leg, hobbled to the left field line on crutches with 10 other SF State senior baseball players in celebration of their last home game.
Tulowitzki also joined Wold and his other teammates on the third base line: pitcher Jeff Clegg, designated hitter Mark Johnson, first baseman Devon King, right-fielder Ivan Otsuka, third baseman Andrew Suvunnachuen, shortstop Sam Wilkins, left-fielder Thomas Wood, pitcher Branden Petrangelo and catcher Matt Quintero.
“The seniors know that today might be their last home game and I think they are pretty much self-motivated,” said Mike Cummins, head coach. “If I need to motivate them for their last game as a college player then we got issues. But they came ready to play and they did well.”
The first run came at the hands of the Pioneers during the top of the second inning. With only one out, catcher David Castillo hit a single to left field sending third baseman Kyle Zozaya home. The Pioneers were sent back to their dugout when infielder Eddie Rettagliata was thrown out at first and shortstop Brad Rich struck out swinging.
The Gators got their offense going when Wold popped the ball up to the infield and dropped it right at the feet of Rich, resulting in a single.
“I was just trying to let the ball travel,” Wold said. “He threw an inside fastball and I just jammed it really bad. Luckily it fell in and got a hit out of it and got the inning going.”
Wold would eventually reach home plate when Wilkins doubled to left field off the glove of Pioneer left-fielder Jake Davis. In the next play, Suvunnachuen got on base with a single to left field and advanced to second base on a wild pitch. Infielder Miguel Flores then him and Wilkins home with a double to right field. The Gators led the game 3-1.
The Gators put the Pioneers out in order during the fourth and fifth innings, allowing them to put their offense back in the game. After being walked, Flores stole second base during Quintero’s at-bat in the bottom of the fifth inning. Quintero, who led the team with a slugging percentage of .443, had struggled earlier in the game to get on base. But with the next pitch he hit a double down the third base line to send Flores home. With two strikes on the board for Johnson, Quintero got the green light to steal third base,but was caught in the act.
“It’s a tough count to hit at 0-2,” Quintero said. “So he (he third base coach) was giving me the green light to see if he (the pitcher) was going to throw the ball away or I could just steal a bag. It just didn’t work out.”
Bats were silent on both sides of the field until Pioneer first baseman Andrew Woolfe hit a daunting home run in the top of the ninth inning. Designated hitter Jordan Wilder was walked on the next play and Zozaya hit a line drive to Flores, who had replaced Suvunnachuen at third base.
The win looked like it could slip right out from the Gators’ hands when Wilder got into scoring position after he was moved over by Davis’ single to left field. But luckily for the Gators, the game ended when junior second baseman AJ Almarez trotted backwards to catch a pop fly hit by infielder Rettagliata.
“We didn’t probably win as many games as we’d like, but we finished better than we have in the last couple of years,” Cummins said. “I think we’re building something in the right direction and we have some good parts coming back in Mark Lindsay, Miguel Flores and Peter Reyes.”