SF State’s baseball team lost both games of a doubleheader, 11-3 and 4-0, against the 25th ranked Azusa Pacific Cougars on Friday, Feb. 2nd at Maloney Field.
Senior pitcher Dillon Houser was given his first start of the season in game one of Friday’s doubleheader. The day looked promising for the Gators when Houser’s excellent first inning was followed by a solo home run by redshirt Junior outfielder David Mansell in his first at-bat as a Gator. Unfortunately, it would turn out to be the beginning of a long day for the Gators.
Azusa Pacific exploded in the second inning, racking up six runs. Although they were able get four hits, SF State’s defensive errors were one of the teams’ biggest downfalls as they committed three errors in the inning. Eventually Houser was able to get the Gators out of the inning by striking out Sophomore second baseman Nick Estrella.
When asked about how he got out of the inning, Houser explained, “It was just about knowing my stuff was working and knowing that I have my defense behind me. It was kind of a fluke inning there so I know it’s not going to happen again.”
Although the Gators were able to collect themselves defensively, Azusa Pacific continued to display their offensive firepower. This included a two-run, pinch hit home run in the fifth inning, courtesy of Senior Tim Lichty. Despite his second-inning strikeout, Estrella would go on to have a solid game, getting on base in the rest of his three at-bats. The Cougars would finish the game with 11 runs and 15 hits.
The Gators did their best to try and keep up, never giving up their fight. Junior infielder Antone Self was able to score a run on a sacrifice bunt in the bottom of the fourth inning. SF State was also able to snag a run in the 9th inning, thanks to a sacrifice fly from redshirt Freshman first baseman Trevor Rogers.
Head coach Tony Schifano remained calm through the team’s frustrating day. “We just have to try to get back to playing good baseball,” Schifano said. “Unfortunately, I don’t think we came prepared and ready to play. We made errors on plays we practice all of the time.”
For game two of the doubleheader, SF State started Freshman pitcher Tyler Franks.
It was beginning to look familiar as the Cougars were able to score four runs in the first five innings. Lichty continued his good day at the plate as a designated hitter, going 1-2 and driving in a run in the top of the 3rd inning.
Despite their offense highlighting the first game, Azusa Pacific was able to use their defense to secure the win as they shut out SF State in the second game of the doubleheader. Despite getting one more hit than Azusa Pacific, SF State was unable to score a single run.
Thankfully for the Gators, Senior pitcher Grant Vogenthaler came in to begin the 6th inning and dominated. Vogenthaler pitched two perfect innings, sitting down each of the six batters he faced.
Schifano remains optimistic through these two tough losses. “I thought we pitched really well that game,” he said, “Franks and (Vogenthaler) threw the ball very well. The other guys just pitched even better.”
“We just needed to play good baseball,” said Sophomore shortstop Jackson Kritsch. “I didn’t think they were especially overpowering. We just didn’t play our game.” Kritsch went 1-4 and 2-3 in game one and two, respectively.
SF State will look to avoid a series sweep as they take on Azusa Pacific on Saturday, Feb. 3 at noon at Maloney Field.