SF State baseball forced extra innings but could not seal the deal in their loss to Academy of Art on Tuesday, Feb. 13.
The Gators took on the Urban Knights at Maloney Field, looking to grab their first win after dropping their first four games to Azusa Pacific University.
In Tuesday’s contest, head coach Tony Schifano opted to share the mound, giving his pitchers a maximum of two innings each. Schifano cited rest for the team’s upcoming weekend series as the reason for the shared workload.
Senior pitcher Dillon Houser was given the start for the game. It started off rough for the Gators as an error put Academy’s lead off hitter, redshirt junior second baseman Elijah Smith, on second base. He would eventually score the first run of the game that inning. That error was one of the few mistakes they made in what was a polished game for the Gator defense.
After surrendering two hits in the 2nd inning, Houser was replaced by redshirt junior Jeff Piver. Piver came in and pitched a perfect two innings, sitting down all six batters he faced, striking out three.
“You just have to always keep a good mindset,” Piver said about his outing. “You got to think you’re better than the guy at the plate and just go in and challenge him.”
Freshman Tyler Franks would come in and replace Piver to start the 5th inning. SF State’s defense seemed to be clicking as they allowed just one run in regulation. The defense was even able to get Franks out of a bases loaded jam, thanks to a play by second baseman Zac Neumann. The game appeared to be all but over before a 9th inning Gators rally took them into extra innings.
Sophomore shortstop Jackson Kritsch was able to hit a single into right-center field, bringing in senior outfielder Kyle Smith. Smith came in to pinch run for redshirt junior DH Chris Smutney, who hit a double earlier in the inning.
“I was just thinking hit the ball hard and good things will happen,” Kritsch said when asked about driving in the tying run. “I figured if I was able to put the ball on the ground or a line drive, we had a good chance of scoring that run.”
Today marked another great day at the plate for Jackson Kritsch, as he went 3 for 5. Kritsch is currently leading the team with a .550 batting average over the team’s first five games. He attributes his success so far to, “good pitch selection and forcing pitchers to throw strikes.”
Academy of Art would punch back in the 10th, thanks to junior catcher Zak May who also drove in the team’s earlier run. With a man on second, May hit a double off the center field wall, driving in Smith. That would be the only additional run the Urban Knights would score, as the Gators weren’t able to answer back, losing in 10 innings, 2-1.
SF State will look to bounce back as they take on 4th-ranked UC San Diego in La Jolla this weekend.