From the swamp to Stockton
It was a day for the history books as SF State’s baseball team cinched its first ever California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) championship appearance with their 7-3 win over Sonoma State on Saturday, May 5.
The Gators left it late and qualified for the tournament on the last day of the regular season in a must-win game with a victory over the Seawolves.
They achieved their best conference record since 2004 and finishing the season 23-21 in conference play and 24-26 overall. The 2004 team missed the postseason by one game. The 2018 Gators would suffer no such fate as they made sure to celebrate Senior Day in style.
Senior pitcher Matt Hernandez, who would have been playing in his last game as a Gator, threw seven innings and left the game with five strikeouts after a shaky start in which he gave up two runs. Hernandez gave the seniors on the team a day to remember and made sure to extend his college baseball career by at least two games.
Freshman second baseman Kyler Crone scored the go-ahead run in the seventh inning, and junior reliever Cameron Crone threw a perfect ninth inning to earn the save and send the Gators to the promised land.
“Right before the last strike I had a moment thinking back to all the hard work that led to that moment,” said SF State Head Coach Anthony Schifano. “After the final pitch, I felt a sense of excitement and a rush of joy for our players and the school.”
The win earned a celebratory tweet from SF State President Leslie E. Wong, who congratulated the Gators on a first postseason appearance.
“I’ve had the goal of making the conference tournament since day one!” said Schifano. “We believed early in the fall that we had the group of guys that could make a run at the conference title.”
NAnd now for the first time, they have that chance through a mix of “lots of hard work, faith in each other and staying positive throughout the entire season,” according to Schifano.
The Gators will now go to Banner Island Ballpark in Stockton, California –– home of the Stockton Ports, where they will take on #15 ranked Cal State Monterey Bay in their first round matchup on Wednesday, May 9 at 11 a.m. The result of their first game will dictate what time they will play on Thursday, May 10.
No matter what happens in Stockton, the Gators can be proud of their history making season. With 20-plus players returning next season, they’re hoping that this is just the beginning of their own fairytale story.