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Wildcat baseball wraps up worst season in 2 decades

Lars Gustafson

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Junior pitcher Torgen Soderlund winds up for a pitch on Feb. 27 against Sonoma State. Photo credit: Caio Calado

For the second time in the past 20 years, the Chico State men’s baseball team missed the playoffs after being ranked eighth in the nation in the preseason.

The Wildcats finished the season with a record of 18-25 overall and a .419 winning percentage — the worst since 1994.

The problems for the Wildcats started at the plate with the batting and run production struggling to get going the entire season. Chico State finished last in the California Collegiate Athletic Association in batting average hitting .240 as a team.

The ‘Cats were also second to last in hits and runs in the conference.

A bright spot for the Wildcats was junior second baseman Andrew Carrillo, who had a great season at the plate batting .325. Carrillo and senior first basemen Dylan Garcia were the top two hitters for the Wildcats, both batting above .300 on the season.

“It hasn’t gone our way,” Carrillo said. “There was a lot of adversity we had to face. At the end of all this, we didn’t give up and we tried. Next fall, I want to help Chico State get back to their winning ways.”

The Wildcats struggled on Saturday doubleheaders going 6-13 in back-to-back games. Between March 28 and April 11, the team failed to get a single win in three doubleheaders, going 0-6.

“Doubleheaders are a grind,” Carrillo said. “It’s tough to be out there for 16 innings and lock in on every pitch. You have to be mentally tough to do it and this year, we lacked mental toughness on Saturdays.”

On the mound, the Wildcats collectively pitched an above average 4.29 ERA and allowed 378 hits and 195 runs. The bullpen was led by fifth-year, right-handed ace pitcher Luke Barker.

Barker had an outstanding final year on the mound for the Wildcats with a 1.73 ERA and a record of 4-3. He was one of the elite Division II pitchers in the nation this season and will go down in Chico State history as one of the best to come through the program.

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Chico State starting pitcher Luke Barker had a strong final year on the mound for the Wildcats with a 1.73 ERA and also won the Bud Hanna Outstanding Scholar Athlete award. Photo courtesy of Luke Reid.

Recently, Barker was awarded the Bud Hanna Outstanding Scholar Athlete award for his first-rate pitching and work on his thesis on the biomechanics of pitching and increasing velocity for his master’s degree in exercise physiology.

Teammate for two and a half seasons and fellow right-handed pitcher Clayton Gelfand said that Barker’s record of 4-3 reflected how the team played as a whole rather than how he pitched as an individual.

“I truly believe Barker is one of the best,” Gelfand said. “His personal stats prove that — huge leader for us this year, and it hurts to see him leave this program. He will be remembered as one of the best to wear the uniform.”

After making the College World Series last season, this was without a doubt a disappointing final year for the 13 seniors who will be graduating at the end of the semester.

“Unfortunately, this season did not go as planned,” said Gordon Deacon, senior infielder. “We were expected to do great things, but nothing went our way. Yes, we were unlucky with finding holes at the plate, but I feel like we failed to execute in a lot of clutch situations throughout the year.”

Assistant coach Jose Garcia was unavailable for comment about the team’s performance this season.

Lars Gustafson can be reached at [email protected] or @larsonsports on Twitter.

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Wildcat baseball wraps up worst season in 2 decades