Wildcats split opening doubleheader with Coyotes

The Wildcats opened up a big series at home with a doubleheader against the Cal State San Bernardino Coyotes on March 6. They won the first game by a final of 5-2, but dropped the second that resulted in a 0-3 shutout.

In game one, the southpaw Grant Larson got the ball for the Wildcats. Larson pitched a complete game with four strikeouts while allowing just two runs.

“He always competes,” senior catcher Tyler Stofiel said. “He did great out there. That’s huge for our bullpen for the weekend, and congratulations to Grant.”

Larson’s teammates provided him with the run support he needed as multiple players made contributions up and down the lineup. Junior outfielder Skylar Limonchi knocked in two runs, and senior outfielder Eddie Zavala had two hits with one RBI.

“Skylar was awesome,” Stofiel said. “This was one of his first main opportunities and it was good to see him have some success at the plate and build some confidence. It’s good to see that everyone can contribute, and Eddie does his thing.”

A key defensive moment came in the top of the eighth inning when Paul Sanchez stepped up to the plate for the Coyotes and hit a fly ball into right field, looking like it would drop in for a base hit. Freshman outfielder Grady Morgan sprinted in and made a phenomenal catch to keep Sanchez off the basepaths.

“My initial thought was ‘I got to run in and catch this thing,’” Morgan said. “[Tyler] Grissom was going back on it, and I saw him pull away so that’s why I had to catch that. I’m glad I was able to make that catch.”

In game two of the doubleheader, senior pitcher Christian Stiegele took the mound for the Wildcats. He lasted just four innings and gave up three runs on seven hits. The offense had their struggles as they only had seven combined hits. Opportunities came their way when the Wildcats loaded the bases in the bottom of the fifth inning and runners on second and third in the bottom of the sixth. However, they were unable to capitalize and take advantage of either situation.

“You just have to grind and keep going with it,” senior infielder Jorge Perez said. “That’s baseball. If everything went our way, we’d be perfect. We’d be undefeated.”

With the first two games of the series behind them, the Wildcats will get right back on the field Saturday to play game three of the series against the Coyotes in an attempt to take the series lead.

“We got to get them in terms of hitting and be a little more aggressive,” Perez said. “We have been playing good baseball. There’s some hops and balls that didn’t go our way today. If we make adjustments on hitting, we’ll be fine. It’s not much we can change.”

Alex Martin can be reached at [email protected] or @amjournalism130 on Twitter.