Gators on track to playoff berth halfway through season

San Francisco State Gator Matt Vera (7) hits his bat on the ground at the game against Cal State Stanislaus Warriors on Sunday March 29. (Marlene Sanchez / Xpress)

San Francisco State Gator Matt Vera (7) hits his bat on the ground at the game against Cal State Stanislaus Warriors on Sunday March 29. (Marlene Sanchez / Xpress)

The combination of good offense and defense has pulled the SF State men’s baseball team from a rocky 2-8 start to winning eight of their last twelve games, giving them a renewed focus to make playoffs.

The Gators had trouble winning at home early in the season, losing their first five games at Maloney Field. Shaking off the beginning season jitters, the team has placed fifth in the California Collegiate Athletic Association standings with a 9-7 record.

“I think we’ve been pretty average,” said head coach Mike Cummins. “We’ve done some good things, it’s the consistency.”

Junior Nolan Sheridan got off to a great start for the Gators’ pitching staff, posting a 3.29 ERA  in 41.0 innings pitched, allowing 15 earned runs and only walking nine players.

The rest of the pitching staff has produced average results with a combined 4.97 ERA that places the team eighth in the CCAA standings for pitching.

The Gators’ offense has been a shining part of the young season with the team hitting a solid .279 average. At 87 times being struck out, SF State holds the CCAA record for fewest in the league this season.

“Our hitting is a lot better,” said second baseman Fernando Escobar. “We just have to lock down on defense, keep that important and clean that up a little bit.”

Senior Mark Lindsay has led the Gators in four statistical categories including hits, batting average, slugging percentage and on-base percentage. In addition, junior outfielder Jacob Lopez stands out as an offensive leader for the Gators by holding a hitting average of .304, with 21 hits and 15 RBIs.

SF State Gator Matt Vera (7) hits his bat on the ground at the game against Cal State Stanislaus Warriors on Sunday March 29. (Marlene Sanchez / Xpress)

SF State Gator Matt Vera (7) hits his bat on the ground at the game against Cal State Stanislaus Warriors on Sunday March 29. (Marlene Sanchez / Xpress)

“I think we’ve done good so far,” Lopez said. “But we can always do better and we gotta look to come out in the second half hot and win more games. I don’t think we have to change much, we just have to practice hard, keep fighting and keep working.”

The Gators have 19 games remaining in the 2015 season, and while currently sitting in the middle of the pack of the CCAA conference, a playoff appearance is in play.

Six of the Gators’ upcoming nine games will be on the road with a tough schedule against Cal State Monterrey Bay and Cal State San Bernardino. Beginning in mid April, SF State will have nine of ten games at Maloney Field, giving them a number of home games to make a playoff push.

“I think we have to be more consistent,” Cummins said. “We have to get what we practice translated into the game when the pressure is on.”

SF State continues the second half of the season this weekend against Cal State Monterey Bay in a four-game series.

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