Baseball falls short in CCAA title game

Marissa Marshall,
Staff Writer

The Cal State East Bay baseball team had an exceptional weekend in the CCAA tournament last weekend. They won three games to two against some of the top teams in the league, but unfortunately fell in the championship game 10-9 to Chico State on Saturday.

East Bay began their CCAA playoff run on Wednesday against Cal State San Bernardino, at 22-29 overall.

The game started slowly, as the score remained tied at zero through the first three innings, due to an outstanding pitching duel by East Bay’s Alex Vesia and San Bernardino’s Tyler Wells. East Bay finally got on the board in the bottom of the fourth when the Pioneer’s designated hitter Zack Perugi singled to left field, which plated first baseman Troy Resch the score, putting them up 1-0.

The game heated up for the Pioneers in the bottom of the sixth, when they scored nine runs. Perugi led the way when he singled to right field, advancing to second base, sending catcher Chris Porter to third and giving left fielder Myles Babitt the score. The Pioneers then scored eight runs after that, giving them the 10-0 lead going into the seventh inning.

San Bernardino scored a run in the top of the seventh when first baseman Ryan Lockey homered to left field. But the Pioneers showed no remorse and scored two runs in the bottom of the seventh, when both right fielder Raymond Jones and third baseman Rudy Navarro scored, extending the lead to 12-1.

East Bay ended the game with a 13-2 win in their first ever playoff appearance. Jones and Perugi both went 3 for 5 in the game.

“We were just so excited to be there for the first time,” said Resch. “We were ready; we brought so much energy and confidence. No matter how far ahead we were, we kept going.”

The Pioneers continued their stellar play the next day against Cal State Monterey Bay, 33-18 overall, whom they beat in the series the previous weekend. They started off slow, as Monterey was ahead 5-0 through the first two innings, but being down has never been a problem for the Pioneers this season.

“We never give up, that’s the best thing about this team,” said Porter, who went 3 for 5, with 3 runs in the game. “We always know we can come back at any time, our bench keeps us energized and helps us gets our bats sparking to make that comeback.”

Porter got the comeback going in the top of the third when he singled through the right side, advancing Navarro to home plate.

The Pioneers eventually tied the game up at 5-5 in the top of the fifth, and the game went back and forth until the last inning, when East Bay finished the game with a 9-8 win over the Otters.

Unlike the previous two games, the Pioneers struggled to score in the third game as they fell 2-4 against a challenging Chico State team, 34-20 overall. The game was tied at 2-2 in the top of the sixth, but Chico closed it in the bottom of the eighth.

Right fielder Josh Falco who went 3 for 4, singled through the left side advancing both first baseman Ben Gamba and second baseman Cameron Santos to home plate, giving Chico the 4-2 win.

Despite the loss, East Bay bounced back the next day on Saturday afternoon in what was their biggest win of the season. The Pioneers faced #21 ranked Cal Poly Pomona, 36-17 overall, and won their first game of the season against them.

“It was very good for us to beat Pomona knowing we hadn’t beaten them before. It was a big step in showing we can beat anybody even though we lost to them in the ninth inning twice, we knew we could beat them,” said Porter.

The Broncos led in the top of the sixth 2-1, when right fielder Michael Zidek filed out to in-field giving Ryan Webberley the score.

East Bay took over in the bottom of the sixth and seventh, starting with Babitt, who singled up the middle, putting East Bay ahead 3-2 with Navarro and Jones both scoring.

Resch then solidified the win when he homered to right field, with both Navarro and Jones on the bases, putting the Pioneers up 7-2 in the bottom of the seventh.

East Bay ended the game with a secure 7-4 win. The win also put East Bay in the CCAA championship game and also helped them break the record of the most wins in program history, a record of 33-19 overall.

“It feels unbelievable and I am very lucky to be a part of such a good team. I love these guys and it’s been an unbelievable season,” said Babbitt, when asked about breaking the record.

Through all the glory and record-breaking, the Pioneers fell in the championship game to what seems to be their version of Kryptonite, the Chico State Wildcats. “I would say they are the toughest team in conference because they bring high energy just like we do, and there is rivalry between us,” said Porter.

Down 10-4, going into the bottom of the ninth, East Bay cut the lead 10-9 when right fielder Rob Link homered to left field, and gave Jones and Ryan Wheat the score. However it was not enough and the Pioneers ended the game with that score.

Although they lost, the Pioneers will still continue their season as they are now, headed into the NCAA west regionals as a sixth seed. They will travel to Riverside on Thursday to face #7 ranked California Baptist, 39-11 overall.

“We are ready, our physical ability is there for regionals, we will sharpen up our tools and get some swings in and will be hungry from the moment we step off that bus,” said Porter.