SF State baseball team’s season came to an end last week when the Gators lost to Cal State LA, 10-7 on the second day of the CCAA playoff tournament. Though this meant their season was over, the team held their heads high knowing they made history appearing in the tournament for the first time in the history of the program.
This season was the third under Head Coach Tony Schifano. Coach Schifano believes his squad was able to take the next step and elevate themselves to another level of play. Specifically, Schifano believes the team’s defense played a huge role in his team’s success.
“Probably the most important thing was that we played better defense this year,” Schifano said. “I think this team really figured out how important defense is and that really helped keep our pitchers in the game longer.”
After a shaky start to the season, going 2-8 in their first 10 games, the team found a way to turn their season around. The Gators went 7-3 in their final 10 games, finishing with a final record of 24-28.
“Early in the season we didn’t have much continuity in the lineup,” Schifano said. “As the season went on, we settled into a pretty consistent lineup offensively.”
Their record was good enough to earn their first CCAA playoff tournament appearance in program history. Unfortunately, the Gators were unable to secure a win in this year’s tournament, held in Stockton. They lost their first game to Cal State Monterey Bay 14-1 and also dropped their second game to Cal State LA.
Although they didn’t win it all, the team was still proud of the history they had made. Aside from the team’s mental toughness, leadership played a big role in the team’s success this season. Seniors like pitcher Grant Vogenthaler were crucial in promoting a supportive and positive culture among the team.
“I think all of the seniors did a really good job of helping all of the younger players and setting examples for the rest of the guys.” Vogenthaler said, “I tried to step up with the younger pitchers especially and just show them the ropes.”
The team also had 6 players named to the 2018 All-CCAA baseball team. Brady Dorn was named to the First Team, Jackson Kritsch and Matthew Hernandez were named to the Second Team, and Jack Harris, Dillon Houser, and Harley Lopez earned honorable mentions.
Junior infielder, Dorn led the team with a .370 batting average. It was also the fourth-best batting average in the CCAA. Sophomore shortstop, and fellow slugger, Jackson Kritch also posted a very productive .362 average. Kritch was also recently awarded a spot on the 2018 Google Cloud NCAA Division II Academic All-District 8 Baseball First Team. The team recognizes athletes across the nation who have excelled both on the field and in the classroom.
Senior pitcher Matthew Hernandez had a strong season as well. Over the course of the season he posted a 3.55 ERA and struck out 86 batters, the second-most in the CCAA. Hernandez says trust in his teammates was crucial to his success this season.
“Trusting everyone behind me was crucial,” Hernandez said. “Trusting my teammates were gonna score runs, and my catcher was going to work his butt off.”
Despite the losses, Coach Schifano sees the season as a major success. He believes that this is only the beginning of a building process the he believes will elevate the school’s athletics as a whole. This year was a great year for SF State sports: the men’s basketball and wrestling teams competed in the postseason and the women’s track and field team brought back a CCAA Championship back to the Swamp.
“You’re seeing a shift in the athletic department. You’re seeing a lot more success with teams,” Schifano said. “Hopefully now that we’ve made the next step, the athletic department can start getting more attention on the west coast and we can really build on that.”