Most home games for the Chico State baseball team take place at Nettleton Stadium.
However, for one game in the past four seasons the ‘Cats have traveled to Raley Field in Sacramento for the final game of their series with Sonoma State in the Capital City Clash.
“When we were pulling up to the stadium, you can see some of the banners they had hanging up,” said Cody Slader, senior shortstop. “And those guys are in the big leagues now.”
This year, Slader’s third appearance in the series was not only the first time he got a hit at Raley Field, he was 0-7 the past two years. Tt was also his first time winning there as a Wildcat.
Chico State claimed the first game of the series three years ago with a comeback. However, in the past two years Sonoma State has been victorious.
Slader finished the game 3-of-4 with a run batted in.
He was one of seven Wildcats with an RBI on the day as the offense swung into a groove early on.
Sophomore pitcher Clayton Gelfand got a few hits at the plate in last year’s clash, appearing as the Wildcats’ designated hitter. This year Gelfand took the mound, standing on the rubber where so many big leaguers had stood before.
“I knew it was a big game and a great venue to make my first start,” Galfand said, “It was an honor to be able to step foot on a field of that level.”
Gelfand threw four innings of shutout ball before being relieved in the fifth inning after allowing a pair of Seawolves to get on base.
Junior relief pitcher A.J. Epstein, working quickly, forced a double play followed by a strikeout to get out of the jam.
“I was aware that I hadn’t given up a hit, but I was just focusing on executing my pitches one at a time,” Epstein said. “Not so much about hits being given up.”
Epstein threw four innings, giving up zero hits, before giving way to senior pitcher, Ryan O’Shea.
O’Shea struck out the side in order to end the game in his first appearance since injuring his elbow in 2013.
“Being his teammate for the last couple years and seeing how badly he wanted to be out there but couldn’t because of injury,” Slader said. “It was awesome to see him back on the mound.”
Raley Field is currently the home stadium of the San Francisco Giants’ Triple-A team, the Sacramento Rivercats.
For the past 15 years, the Rivercats have been an Oakland A’s affiliate. The team cited the Giants’ swelling popularity as the reason for the switch.
“A lot of good major leaguers have played on that field,” Slader said. “So it was an honor for us to play on it.”
Kevin Lucena can be reached at [email protected] or @klucena824 on Twitter.