The Sonoma State University club baseball team headed out to their home field at Rancho Cotati High School this weekend to scrimmage the University of Nevada at Reno Wolf Pack. The three-game series featured strong pitching on both sides. However, it was Nevada that was able to string together big hits and big innings and come away with three victories by the end of the weekend.
On Saturday, the first day of the series, the teams played a double header. Game one was a pitcher’s duel. Sophomore Isaac Brown took the mound for Sonoma and, in his six innings of work, allowed only one hit with no runs. By the end of his outing, he collected five strikeouts.
Sonoma State’s offense remained relatively quiet the entire game, accumulating only three hits over the seven innings. Two of those hits belonged to senior Justin Leong, who went two for three with two singles. Sophomore Nick Langworthy had the other hit, which was a single to right field.
The game was tied up at zero apiece until the Wolf Pack’s offense busted open in the top of the seventh inning. The team scored eight runs on six hits and two walks.
After a walk to senior Brad Mulvihill and a hit by pitch to freshman Matt Ramsey with only one out, the bottom of the seventh seemed promising for Sonoma State. However, sophomore Sean MacDuffy would eventually hit into a game-ending 4-6-3 double-play, which finalized the score at 8-0.
Junior Nik Rowen was the starting pitcher for game two and was looking to turn things around for his team. After retiring the first two batters in the top of the first, Rowen allowed four consecutive hits, which brought in one run. But, he eventually settled in and gave up only one hit in his next four innings.
Sonoma came back in the bottom half of the first, putting up two runs. Freshman Bailey Jones started off the inning with a walk, eventually reaching third. He would go on to score on a bunt from Leong. Then, just a few batters later, Leong was driven in with a single by MacDuffy.
The team put another run on the board in the top of the third with an RBI single by Mulvihill, driving in freshman RJ Schmidt. The score was 3-1 by the end of the inning.
Reno put two runs across in the fourth and one in the fifth, but Sonoma’s offense responded with two runs in the bottom of the fifth. The RBIs were accredited to MacDuffy’s single to left field and Ramsey’s sacrifice squeeze bunt.
The score was 5-4 going into the top of the seventh with Sonoma State on top. However, junior pitcher Tyler Storozinski could not hold off Nevada’s offense and allowed two runs to the heart of the Wolf Pack’s order. Sonoma could not push a run across the plate in the bottom of the inning and the final score ended up at 6-5 in favor of Nevada.
Sunday morning, the team played their final game of the series. Junior pitcher Russell De Jong was hoping to help his team avoid a sweep.
While Sonoma State’s offense remained quiet throughout the first four innings, Nevada’s did not. By the top of the fifth, De Jong would allow five runs on nine hits.
On the other hand, Sonoma State was able to push across two runs in the top of the fifth with a bases loaded walk to Storozinski and a sacrifice fly ball by Langworthy. These would be the only runs the team would score through nine innings of play.
Nevada scored three more runs in the top of the seventh and, after a quick bottom of the inning for Sonoma State’s offense, the 8-2 victory, once again, went to Nevada, who finalized the sweep. Rowen earned the loss but Leong led his team with hits, going two for four in the game.
Although Sonoma seemed to have a trying weekend, Mulvihill, who is playing his second year with the team, believes that there is a silver lining: the team was able to practice and get comfortable playing alongside each other, which will ultimately help them during their spring season.
“Preseason I don’t really care what happens,” said Mulvihill. “It’s more along the lines of filling a base ground for the season where we can structure on top of it.”
Having been established in 2013, the team is fairly new. Last year was their first season being able to play against other colleges in their division. Even though they were newcomers, they had a successful season, finishing with an overall record of 12-6. The team even beat first-ranked Cal Berkeley two times in a three-games series.
Looking forward to this season, many players believe they have the potential to improve upon their previous year’s success and make it to playoffs.
“We are stoked for this year,” said MacDuffy, who is returning for his second year. “Everyone’s excited to play and excited to be out here. It is still competitive and still fun.”
Leong, a five-year senior and cofounder of the club, has high hopes for the upcoming season, even though he will not be able to continue to play with the team.
Leong is graduating at the end of this semester and, therefore, will no longer be able to play on the team he started. However, he hopes that he will continue to be a part of the team, whether as a coach or just a fan.
“As of now, I am planning on coming back and coaching,” said Leong. “I am probably still going to come back just to see the team grow.”
The Sonoma State baseball club is still taking on newcomers for their spring season. If interested in playing next semester, join the NOMA Baseball Club Facebook page to stay up to date on practice times and meetings.