The Pioneer

Pioneers CCAA North Division champions

Photo by Melody Platt/The Pioneer

Photo by Melody Platt/The Pioneer

Marissa Marshall,
Staff Writer

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The California State East Bay Pioneers had a tremendous weekend of baseball. Not only did they punch their ticket into the California Collegiate Athletic Association playoffs, but they also claimed the CCAA North Division title for the first time in school history.

East Bay played a four-game series this weekend against Cal State Monterey Bay (32-17 overall, 21-16 conference) who was ahead of them in the standings before the weekend began. The Pioneers finished the weekend by beating Monterey in the series, three games to one.

The first game on Friday was a blowout in favor of the Pioneers, 7-1. Sophomore pitcher Alex Vesia allowed only 5 hits and struck out 7 through the eighth inning. Senior utility player Rudy Navarro, who went 3 for 5 with 2 RBIs, started the game when he singled up the middle, which plated center fielder Marcus Wise the score.

East Bay then took full control of the game and only allowed one run by the Otters. Senior catcher Chris Porter also went 3 for 5 with 2 RBIs in the win.

“The mentality going into the game was just like any other game we play,” said Navarro. “We wanted to start the weekend off well and set the tone for the rest of the weekend.”

The Pioneers kept up their play on Saturday morning when they traveled to Monterey. The game lasted 10 innings and Monterey put the first point on the board when Hayden Deur scored on a throwing error by East Bay.

First baseman Troy Resch singled to shortstop in the top of the fourth and Navarro scored on a throwing error by Monterey Bay, which tied the game 1-1.

The game remained stagnant after the fifth inning and stayed tied 3-3 after the Otter’s Matt Urakami homered to right field. With no score change until the tenth inning, Pioneer infielder Dakota Conners reached on a fielder’s choice to second base, which advanced Resch home and gave East Bay the 4-3 lead. Pitcher Andrew Fernandez got his first save of the year, after he pitched a scoreless inning in the bottom of the tenth, which secured the win.

In the second game on Saturday afternoon, the Pioneers had a different outcome as they fell to the Otters 9-2. The Otters had two home runs in the game by Deur and Myles Hager.

Then came Sunday afternoon on the Pioneers’ senior day, where they honored 11 of their senior players before their game with speeches and welcomed parents and families on the field before the game.

East Bay took the lead early when Resch singled through the left side, sending Navarro home. Monterey’s Kevin Davidson tied it up in the top of the third inning when he grounded out with an RBI when Garrett Brown scored.

Resch again helped put the Pioneers ahead when he doubled through the right side nabbing an RBI that plated Raymond Jones.

“I just try to stay within myself and try not to do too much,” said Resch. “I just continue to be patient and look for a pitch to drive and be sure to put a good swing on it if I get it, and it has been working out”.

The Otters tied it at 2-2 in the sixth inning when Will Rosado homered, but that was the final time they scored.

East Bay finished off the game in the eighth inning when Zack Perugi singled to right-center field, which advanced both Kris Barlett and Resch to home plate and gave the Pioneers the 4-3 lead. They gained another run when Conners reached base on a fielder’s choice, which allowed Porter to score. The Pioneers finished their senior game with a 4-2 win.

“Our coach told us that we needed to win two games in the series, but we were not going to settle, we wanted to win the series and that’s what we did,” said Porter.

Navarro went 3 for 3 in the game and was named the CCAA batting champion, with a batting average of .419.

“It feels great, all the hard work is paying off,” said Navarro. “I’ve been using the single arm bat and making sure my hands work correctly to the ball and it really has been benefiting me.”

The win not only guaranteed The Pioneers a playoff spot, but also gave CSUEB another 30-win season for the third time in 4 years (30-18 overall, 21-16 conference), crowning them champions of the CCAA North Division.

“It feels amazing, no words can describe it,” said Porter after the game. “I haven’t been a part of playoffs since little league and can’t wait for this opportunity. It’s even better since we were ranked dead last in the coaches pool in the beginning of the year, and proved we are not to be taken lightly and claimed first place.”

This will be East Bay’s first appearance in the CCAA tournament and they are determined to make a statement.

“We have confidence in our team,and we will continue to carry on our energy throughout playoffs,“ said Resch.

The Pioneers will face Cal State San Bernardino (22-27 overall, 17-20 conference) in the first round of playoffs on May 11 in Stockton.

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California State University East Bay
Pioneers CCAA North Division champions