Gators use bullpen for victory
A stable of pitchers and a breakout fifth inning helped the Gators return to winning ways with a 6-1 victory over Holy Names on Monday, April 2 at Maloney Field.
SF State erased a one-run deficit in the fifth, in which they put up four runs off RBI singles by junior left fielder Harley Lopez and sophomore center fielder Jack Harris.
“We knew we needed to turn it around, we knew we were better than these guys, and we showed it,” said Lopez.
Holy Names would be first to get on the board, however, with junior shortstop Brady Dorn committing an error that allowed Hawks senior right fielder Paul Kennedy to reach first.
SF State sophomore starting pitcher Jack Higgins would give up an RBI double to the next batter, sophomore first baseman Cameron Trudel. Trudel smashed a long drive to left field that scored Kennedy and make the score 1-0 for Holy Names.
Higgins settled down to end the inning and limit the damage to one run. It would also be the end of his shift, though, as Gators head coach Anthony Schifano replaced him with junior LHP Nathan Pisciotta to start the third.
Schifano used a total of eight pitchers on the day in an attempt to get more members of his bullpen valuable innings of work now that the Gators are into conference play.
“We’re kinda making an adjustment with our bullpen. We’re going one to two innings max with bullpen guys, so everyone gets an opportunity and it gives the other team a different look every inning,” said Schifano.
That adjustment worked perfectly as the SF State bullpen kept the Hawk bats quiet for the rest of the afternoon by limiting them to six hits.
The Gator bats remained quiet themselves until the fifth, though, when they would take the lead and not surrender it.
Senior second baseman Zac Neumann started the inning with a leadoff single. Sophomore designated hitter Jackson Kritsch earned a walk to put runners on first and second for SF State and bring up Lopez.
Lopez singled off Holy Names freshman reliever Joshua Ribera to score Neumann and Kritsch, giving the Gators a 2-1 lead.
Ribera intentionally walked freshman first baseman Trevor Rogers to pitch to Harris and advance Lopez to second with one out.
Harris made the Hawks pay for the gamble by putting the game out of reach with a 2-run RBI single that scored Rogers and Lopez to make it 4-1 Gators.
“I was just trying to put the ball in play with runners in scoring position. I knew what the pitcher was going to try and do and I did my best to try to get the job done,” said Harris.
Junior third baseman Antone Self singled after Harris to advance him to third, but senior right fielder Kyle Smith grounded out to end the inning and leave runners stranded in scoring position.
The bottom of the sixth inning started much like the fifth, with Neumann and Kritsch reaching base, this time on walks. They advanced to second and third on a wild pitch with shortstop Brady Dorn up to bat.
Dorn padded the Gators lead with another 2-run RBI single, the third of the game for SF State, making the score 6-1 and putting the contest out of reach for the Hawks.
Splendid relief work by senior pitcher Jordan Yrastorza and freshman pitcher Jordyn Eglite would set up junior reliever Cameron Crone to close out the game by striking out the side.
“The bullpen executed the pitching game plan today perfectly,” said a pleased Schifano, who will be able to take his team into this weekends’ games on a high from the victory.
SF State plays Cal State LA at Maloney field on Friday, April 6 at 3 p.m.