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Chico State baseball splits conference opening series against Cal Poly Pomona

Chico State baseball closed out the series on a high note following an explosive sixth inning from the Wildcat bats
Will G. MacNeil
Chico State freshman Michael Baker following his first home run of the 2024 season. Photograph taken by Will G. MacNeil.

Chico State baseball closed out the series on a high note following an explosive sixth inning from the Wildcat bats.

Game 1:

Chico State baseball (7-2, 2-2 CCAA) took their first loss of the season Friday night, in the conference opener against the Cal Poly Pomona Broncos (6-6, 2-2 CCAA) 3-6. 

The Broncos came out of the gates to a hot start, putting up three runs in two innings off of senior starting pitcher Kevin Lyons. Lyons was quick to find his footing sitting down the following ten hitters for the Broncos.

The Wildcats responded early after a single from junior Stefan Foley, who eventually scored after a single down the line from sophomore Jesse Gadd reduced the deficit. 

After conceding another run in the bottom of the sixth, the Wildcats started to make some noise. The top of the seventh was highlighted by a two-run double from junior Jeremy Keller that brought the game to within one run in favor of the Broncos. 

The Broncos answered back once they got their turn in the bottom of the seventh after a solo home run from the standout player of the game Johnny Pappas, who finished with one home run and two doubles.

The Wildcats weren’t able to keep up with the Broncos’ bats as they added on another insurance run in the bottom of the game to give them a three-run lead which ultimately decided the game in their favor 3-6.

Game 2 (Doubleheader): 

Games two and three of the series were a part of a doubleheader Saturday, with the Wildcats looking to bounce back from their first loss of the year. 

Senior Marco Ibarra highlighted game one of the doubleheader with a strong outing on the mound, throwing six innings while only giving up one earned run. 

The Wildcat bats started to get hot in the third inning where they got out to an early three-to-nothing lead after clutch RBI singles from Kent and Gadd.

Yet, the Broncos kept chipping away and in the sixth inning made it a one-score game. 

Seemingly the Chico States bats were the difference maker as they went on to put up two more game-sealing runs in the top of the eighth inning which led to the Wildcats’ first conference win of the season 5-3. 

Game 3 (Doubleheader):

The Wildcats carried over their momentum at the plate into game two of the doubleheader. 

They got out to an early lead on the Broncos scoring two runs in each of the first two innings of the game, capped off by a two-run homer to left field from freshman Michael Baker

Despite the surge of runs coming from the Wildcats, the Broncos weren’t going down without a fight. In the bottom of the third, the Broncos came out swinging and put up a whopping six runs on the Wildcats to take a 7-4 lead. 

The Chico State bats couldn’t keep up with the Broncos as they accumulated three more runs throughout the game, resulting in a loss for the Wildcats 10-4.

Game 4:

The fourth game of the series on Sunday had Chico State motivated looking to even things up with the Broncos.

It was truly a team effort for the Wildcats, as seven different players recorded hits in Sunday’s victory over the Broncos. 

Junior Patrick Barnum led the charge in an impressive sixth inning which was the catalyst for the Wildcats in the final outing of the four-game series. Barnum capped off the sixth inning with an RBI double that scored Baker and gave the Wildcats a six to two lead. 

Chico State senior starting pitcher Dylan Day came out and threw four commanding innings only allowing two runs, while striking out four Bronco batters. His performance was backed by a trio of relieving pitchers, juniors Scott Lewis, Tyce Ochs and Keller who combined for five innings pitched with zero runs allowed. 

After their offensive explosion in the sixth, the Wildcats never looked back and closed out the victory 6-2.

After starting league play at an even split, the Wildcats look to get above .500 in their conference Friday at 6 p.m. at Nettleton Stadium. They will play the San Francisco State Gators (9-5, 3-1 CCAA) who recently swept the Wildcats last season in 2023. 

Lukas Mann can be reached at [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Lukas Mann, Reporter
Lukas Mann is a journalism major with a minor in broadcasting. He is currently enrolled in his third-year at Chico State. Lukas has had a keen interest in sports for the majority of his life and is looking forward to integrating that passion into his work and effort for The Orion. After graduation, he hopes to be a writer for any professional sports teams having to do with the big four sports.

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