Baseball splits home series with Wolves

Louis LaVenture,
News and Sports Editor

New season, new opponents.

That must be the mindset for the Cal State East Bay baseball team who welcomed the Western Oregon University Wolves to Pioneer Baseball Field for the first time since at least 2009. The Pioneers (5-2 overall) had to settle for a split after the three-day series that saw CSUEB win two closely engaged one run contests, 3-2 on Friday and 7-6 on Sunday.

Pitching dominated the first game and despite both starters logging six innings on the mound, neither factored in the decision. Western Oregon jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the top of the second inning when senior catcher Caleb Falck knocked in senior outfielder Cody Sullivan to start the scoring.

CSUEB responded in the bottom of the fourth inning when senior outfielder Myles Babitt scored on an error by WOU’s second baseman that tied the game at 1-1. Babitt was key in the win and came through for the Pioneers again in the bottom of the sixth inning when his fielders choice knocked in his senior teammate Rudy Navarro that made the score 2-1.

The Pioneers finished the scoring in the bottom of the eighth inning when sophomore infielder Dakota Conners drove in freshman Joey Dice that made the final 3-1. Sophomore pitcher Andrew Fernandez picked up his first win of the season and junior reliever Derek Oetken nabbed his second save of the year.

The Wolves managed to take both games of the doubleheader on Saturday, 8-1 and 5-2. Senior first baseman Nathan Etheridge had a huge day for the Wolves, knocked in four runs in consecutive innings on a double and a triple late in the game that helped secure their first win of the day.

“I was picking up the ball really good,” Etheridge said. “It felt great to hit it hard and pick up my teammates.”

Navarro drove in the lone run for CSUEB in the first inning when he singled to left field and drove in junior outfielder Kris Bartlett. Wolves catcher Trevor Podratz drove in a run on a single, but he came up just short of two home runs after he hit two pop ups to the warning track just short of the fence in his last two plate appearances.

“Where was the wind when you need it?” Podratz said. “Just missed em I guess.”

The Pioneers managed to keep the third game closer, but the Wolves were able to score some late runs and secure the 5-2 triumph. Wolves senior pitcher Darrien Moran gave up 2 runs and 6 hits on his way to his first win of the year. Former Ohlone College transfer, Elias Bedolla picked up the save, also his second of the year.

CSUEB took an early 2-1 lead after they scored both times in the bottom of the first inning. The lead held up all the way until the top of the sixth inning when the Wolves rallied to score 3 runs and take a 4-2 advantage. WOU added another run in their last at bat in the top of the seventh inning that made the final 5-2.

The Pioneers didn’t let the back to back losses discourage them and showed some toughness on Valentine’s Day when they took the final game of the series 7-6 in thrilling fashion. The Wolves were down 6-4 in the top of the ninth inning and scored 2 runs to tie the game at 6 a piece. CSUEB junior outfielder Daniel Goodrich got things started in the bottom of the ninth with a double to left field. Senior catcher Chris Porter bunted Goodrich to third base on a sacrifice and senior infielder Ryan Wheat finished the job after he drove in Goodrich on a game-winning popup to left field for the series split, 2-2.

CSUEB will host the Fresno Pacific Sunbirds (5-3) in a four game series that starts today at 2 p.m. at Pioneer Baseball Field on the Hayward campus. The two teams will also play at 2 p.m. on Friday and a doubleheader that starts at 11 a.m. on Saturday.