Seawolves sweep opening day

Baseball is difficult, but someone forgot to tell that to Sonoma State University’s third baseman Joshua Lenney, when his bat powered the Seawolves to a three-game sweep of Holy Names University to begin the 2018 season.

Lenney, a junior transfer from Santa Rosa Junior College, hit .444 with two home runs and seven RBI across nine at-bats. With Lenney’s five-RBI outburst in the first game, Sonoma State rolled over Holy Names 12-0 to start the series.

Early on in the second inning, situational hitting – an area in need of improvement from last season – made its way to the forefront with plenty of opportunities to capitalize with runners in scoring position. 

With no outs and the bases loaded, Dan Deely roped a single to right field, setting the tone at 1-0. From there, shortstop Rayson Romero smacked a double down the left-field line, scoring two more. After plating three, the Seawolves weren’t done yet, bringing home another two runs on sacrifice flies from Bryce Nagata and Mitch West to jump to an early 5-0 lead.

Sonoma State proceeded to score an extra seven insurance runs over the course of the game, five of which came from the bat of Lenney.

While the bats rattled off nine hits, Sonoma State pitching came out firing, allowing only five hits and four walks, stranding six on base. Four total pitchers combined to complete the shutout: Dominic Garihan, Michael Warning, Kyle Stevenson, and Dylan De La Montanya. 

Garihan, the starter, pitched three innings – allowing two hits while striking out three. Warning bridged the gap in the fourth, throwing four innings and limiting the damage to four baserunners. Following Warning, Stevenson – a tall right-hander – threw the eighth inning, striking out two without trouble. Then, De La Montanya took the mound to close out an uneventful ninth frame, striking out one and allowing one hitter to reach base.

For his part in the shutout, Warning earned the victory thanks to four innings of scoreless ball.

With Friday’s victory in the rearview mirror, Saturday’s double-header featured two closer contests than the slugfest game from the previous afternoon.

In game one, Sonoma State kept the hit parade marching, smacking 13 hits en route to a 6-2 victory on the road. Lenney stayed hot at the dish, swatting his second homer in as many days. Center Fielder Nagata led the way at the plate after reaching base three times and launching a fourth inning two-run home run – a blast that put Sonoma State up 5-1. 

Again, Sonoma State’s pitching stymied Holy Names’ hitters, this time with the combo of Tyson Canfield, Jackson Berumen, and Rory McDaid. Canfield pitched four innings of no-hit ball, surrendering one unearned run and striking out six in the process. Berumen relieved Canfield in bottom of the fifth, giving up two hits and two walks while also keeping a clean box score. McDaid pitched the eighth and ninth inning, authoring one earned run and producing four strikeouts to close out the game. For his efforts, Berumen picked up his first win of the season.

In the subsequent game of the double-header, Holy Names found its first lead of the series. A mix of base hits and a throwing error by first baseman Jake Sahagian contributed to the Hawks’ four-run second inning. During the frame, manager John Goelz chose to go to the bullpen, removing starting pitcher Andrew Fuentes after he allowed four runs (three earned) on four hits and two walks.

 Instead, he turned to junior Conor Ridley to escape the jam. Ridley proved ineffective, doling out two walks and a hit – paving the way for Michael Byerline to record the final out of the inning. Holy Names concluded the inning with a 4-1 lead heading into the top of the third.

But, as the old rule goes, whatever one team gets, they must give it back. This became the case with Sonoma State back on offense. A slew of hits and errors offered an opening to get back into the game. A single through the left side of the infield by Nathan Mann notched the score at four apiece. Multiple errors ensued on the next two plays and the Seawolves took back the lead at 6-4.

The following inning, the Seawolves added one more run courtesy of a solo home run clobbered by right fielder Grant St. Martin. The lead stretched to 7-4.

Over the next four innings, Holy Names climbed back with two runs of its own – clinging to a one-run deficit heading into the bottom of the ninth.

Starting the ninth, reliever Pakela Nihipali struck out the first batter he faced. Needing two outs to secure the series sweep, Goelz motioned to the bullpen, summoning senior Matt Stafford for the save. Stafford made quick work of the two hitters he faced – striking out the first and inducing a groundout to finish off the second in order to hold on for the 7-6 victory and series sweep.

With a 3-0 record to open the season, Sonoma State will play its next two games on the road against Fresno Pacific. First pitch is slated for Friday at 6 p.m. Game two is set for Saturday at 11 a.m.