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Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

‘Cats seek playoff birth heading into weekend

Junior Stuart Bradley throws a pitch during a game against Sonoma State. Photo credit: Jacob Auby

As the 2016 season winds down, the Chico State baseball team continues to push for a birth in the CCAA Championship Tournament and a step closer to earning a spot in the NCAA Championship Tournament.

The Wildcats could wrap up their spot in the CCAA tournament while moving closer to the NCAA tournament with either a win against the Cal State Stanislaus Warriors or a Sonoma State loss in a weekend series May 6-8. The ‘Cats will wrap up the regular season on the road against the Warriors in a four-game series.

With a record of 19-12 in conference play, the Wildcats hold a two-game lead over second place Cal State Monterrey Bay, a two-and-a-half-game lead over third place Cal State East Bay and a four-and-a-half-game lead over fourth place Sonoma State.

The first NCAA Division II West Region rankings has Chico State in the spot with an overall record of 29-14 and 25-14 against Division II teams.

The West Region rankings were released April 27. The winner of the CCAA tournament and Pacific West Conference automatically qualify for the NCAA tournament.

The Chico State baseball team looks on during an important game against Sonoma State. Photo credit: Jacob Auby

Currently in the CCAA, the Wildcats are ranked first in batting average (.321), hits per game (11.4), runs per game (7.5), extra base hits (111), slugging percentage (.429) and on-base percentage (.406).

Chico is ranked third in team ERA (3.79), and when the defense commits one or fewer errors they have a record of 19-4. Chico is currently ranked eighth in fielding.

If the Wildcats want to be successful they will need their top performers to continue producing. Junior pitcher Clayton Gelfand will have to continue his solid pitching into the postseason if Chico hopes to make a deep run into the postseason. Currently he has a record of 8-4, an ERA of 2.19, opposing batting average of .218 and 75 strikeouts in 86.1 innings pitched.

The bats of junior Sonny Cortez and senior Ben Gamba will also have to stay hot for a successful playoff run. Currently they have a batting average of .376 and .374, respectively. Cortez leads the team with 75 hits and is closely followed by Gamba with 74. Gamba leads the team in RBIs with 53 while Cortez leads the team in runs scored with 57. Gamba also leads the team in doubles with 11 and home runs with 4.

Senior Ben Gamba narrowly beats a throw to get on base during a game against Sonoma State. Photo credit: Jacob Auby

In order for the Wildcats to have a successful playoff push they must continue to play the way they are playing now. They have to support their pitchers and get on base. They have been doing this really well during the regular season and will have to continue doing so in the playoffs. The most important thing they must work on is their defense. If they wish to have a deep run, defense will surely play a part in how far the ‘Cats go.

Carlos Islas can be reached at [email protected] or @cIslasReports on Twitter.

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Carlos Islas, Staff Writer

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