Sonoma State swept the Gators on Senior Day, Saturday, continuing SF State baseball’s slump as it heads into the postseason.
Prior to the regular season finale, SF State recognized its 10 seniors: Brady Dorn, Colin Gabel, Trevor Greenley, Ethan Lageson, Harley Lopez, David Mansell, Jeff Piver, Shaq Robinson, Antone Self and Chris Smutny.
Gabel said there were a lot of emotions because it was his last time playing at Maloney Field.
“I was anxious to get out there, a little nervous, the last time taking the field [with] my friends,” Gabel said. “It’s been amazing. We’re fortunate to be playing baseball with a group of people that we respect and love the company of.”
Before the doubleheader, the teams concluded a Feb. 17 game that was halted due to darkness. The game resumed in the bottom of the eighth inning, with Sonoma State leading 15-4. Senior infielder Dorn pitched one inning, his first career appearance on the mound, allowing one hit and striking out one in the Gators’ lopsided 16-4 loss. It was technically the first loss of the season for the club.
The Seawolves jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning of game one. SF State responded with a Smutny bases-loaded walk to score Lopez, but the Seawolves retired the Gators with the bases loaded.
In the third inning, back-to-back RBI singles by Smutny and Robinson lifted the Gators to a 3-2 lead. After a shaky first inning, Gators starting pitcher Luis Salinas settled down and retired twelve-straight Seawolves.
The streak came to an empathic end in the seventh when Josh Lenney hit a solo home run to tie the game 3-3. Sonoma State continued the rally in the seventh, scoring two more to extend the lead to 5-3. After three Sonoma State runs in the ninth, the Gators entered the bottom of the ninth trailing 8-3.
The Gators did not go down quietly, SF State was able to bring the winning run to the plate in the ninth with one out, but a Jack Harris strikeout and a Smutny fly out left the bases loaded for the second time. The Gators dropped game one 8-5.
The day was bittersweet for Smutny. The pregame ceremony was special but he said he was disappointed the team was unable to get a win.
“This is my fourth school, so I’ve been on a lot of teams with a lot of different guys, but this has been a super special group,” Smutny said.
Game two was dominated by pitching. Sonoma State pitcher Dominic Garihan kept the Gators off balance all game, recording nine strikeouts while allowing four hits and one run.
Gator pitchers Ryan Cleary and Dylan Madole were dominant in their own right, the two combined for 11 strikeouts and Madole did not allow a hit in his three innings of work. A massive Patrick Tolbert homerun in the fourth inning was the winning run in the Seawolves 2-1 victory.
Travel and injuries have caught up with the Gators late in the year according to SF State head coach Tony Schifano, but the team looks to turn things around as they head into the playoffs.
“It’s a mental grind, a physical grind, we’re at a standstill offensively,” Schifano said. “It is what it is, you can’t force it, you just hope that they figure it out.”
The Gators conclude their regular season with a 23-19-1 regular season record and a 21-19 conference record, with SF State finishing fifth in the California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) standings.
The Gators will travel to Stockton, California,this week to begin the 2019 CCAA Baseball Tournament on Wednesday, May 8 where No. 5 SF State takes on No. 2 Cal State Monterey Bay in a rematch of last season’s No. 6 vs. No. 1 matchup.