Gator seniors leave lasting impression

(L-R) Mike Phelan, TJ Conroy, Noeh Martinez, Myles Franklin, Brent Montgomery, Jacob Lopez, Chris Nicholson, Bryce Brooks and Ryan Bohnet pose with their families and the Gator coaching staff on Senior Day, April 29 (Eli Walsh/Xpress)

SF State’s baseball team played its final home game Saturday, paying homage to its nine seniors as well as showcasing future talent.

The Gators, along with athletic director Charles Guthrie, honored two pitchers (Ryan Bohnet, Brent Montgomery), four infielders (Bryce Brooks, Chris Nicholson, TJ Conroy, Mike Phelan) and three outfielders (Jacob Lopez, Noeh Martinez, Myles Franklin) prior to their 7-1 victory over California State University, Dominguez Hills.

Lopez and Nicholson went on to play crucial roles on offense, driving in a combined six runs, while Bohnet and Montgomery combined for 6.1 shutout innings.

Bohnet leaves the program as the only four-year senior of the group, compiling a 4.51 earned run average and 139 strikeouts in 214.1 innings pitched during his Gator career.

“It’s had its ups and its downs,” Bohnet said of his time at SF State. “But I’ve stuck with it and I’ve had great teammates.”

Lopez ended Saturday 3-5 with two triples to raise his season average to .377. After missing the 2016 season due to an injury, Lopez started 2017 slow, failing to record a hit in his first 10 at bats of the season. The outfielder proved to be one of the team’s most valuable players as the 2017 season progressed and has hit safely in 15 of his last 17 games.

“I had to work hard to come back,” Lopez said. “It feels good to come back and doing good is just the cherry on top.”

Franklin, Brooks and Nicholson often played together in their two years at SF State. Brooks, generally a third baseman or shortstop, compiled a .313 batting average in 85 games. Nicholson, mostly a first baseman and occasionally an outfielder, has a .245 career average and a .349 career on-base percentage while playing in 86 games during his two years.

Franklin will finish the 2017 season among the team leaders in batting average, on-base percentage and stolen bases. Franklin ends his time at SF State with a .328 average and 22-24 in stolen base attempts.

Head coach Tony Schifano lauded the seniors’ camaraderie above all.

“(Bohnet) is the only four-year guy,” Schifano said. “What’s impressive is how close they’ve bonded in the last two years, in such a short amount of time.”

Several seniors agreed their bond was an integral part of their Gator journey they would most miss.

“These guys out here, the coaching staff, coming down here every day grinding with them, I’m going to miss it,” Lopez said. “I missed it last year because I didn’t play so I was hungry to get back.”

“I’m going to miss the teammates a lot and my coaches have helped me out a lot too,” Bohnet said. “Just the team environment, I’m going to miss the most.”

As the senior Gators completed a series sweep of Dominguez Hills, freshmen Robbie Carling and Jack Harris offered a glimpse at the bright future of the team. Carling went 1-3 with a pair of runs scored and Harris hit his sixth home run of the season the day before.

Schifano praised Harris and Carling as well as freshman shortstop Jackson Kritsch this season as being the future leaders of the team as early as next season.

When it comes to the senior class, Schifano said new and returning players can learn a lot from them.

“I think they’ve set a foundation to show the freshmen, sophomores, next year’s freshman class what it takes to get to that next level and get to the playoffs,” Schifano said. “I think we’re right there, we’re knocking on the door.”

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