Big things were expected from the Chico Heat in 2018 but even their most faithful of followers would not have predicted such domination through the first half of the Great West League season.
Chico enters the mid-point of the summer campaign with a 23-6 record with a five game bulge over the Lincoln Potters and seven games clear of the Medford Rogues.
The Heat have done it with a balance of pitching (4.17 ERA) and offense (.307) leading the league in both team ERA and batting average.
The Heat’s starting pitching has been tremendous with Justin Sterner leading the league in wins (5) and strikeouts (49). Will Clawson has four wins while Shane Gustafson has three victories.
The Heat also have three of the top six ERA leaders with Sterner at 2.46, Gustafson at 3.04 and Tucker Weaver at 3.70. The relief corps has impressed as well with Clawson at 1.86 in ten outings. University of Washington products Cole Eigenhuis at 2.25 in six appearances and Cole Galvagno at 2.84 in five outings. Youngster Reid McLaughlin has appeared in 11 games and has a 2.82 ERA and three saves while Brayden Bonner leads the club with 4 saves and has 26 strikeouts in 18 innings.
The Heat offense has been consistent. Up and down their line-up the Heat have gotten production. Brown University product Parke Phillips is leading the GWL in hitting with a .414 batting average. He has banged out 46 hits while driving in 25 runs. The consistency that Creighton Blue Jay Andrew Meggs has given the Heat can not be over-looked. Meggs is hitting .320 while driving in 20 runs. Cole Lemmel is among the league leaders in home runs with 6 and has driven in 18.
UC San Diego is one of Chico State’s biggest baseball rivals but the Triton program has let the Chico baseball fans borrow of couple of their young stars. Sophomore Brandon Stewart has played in 12 games for the Heat has 20 hits and is hitting a cool .400 with 14 RBI’s and 6 stolen bases. Red-shirt freshman Joe DeBaca is hitting .432 in twelve games with 12 runs batted in. The two Tritons have given the Chico Heat a tremendous boost.
Tanner Roundy is hitting .356 in 14 apperances. Arizona product Jordan Parker is hitting .280 and has driven in 18 runs.
One of the biggest challenges for Manager Fred Ludwig has been to keep everyone happy with playing time. It’s a great problem to have with such and competitiveness on the 2018 squad. Ludwig and the brain-trust of Ryan Lauer and Reece Borges know that having depth is important as the 60-game grind can wear down even the best of players.
After tonight’s game with Lincoln the Heat will have 15 more home games and 15 more on the road.
As well as the Heat are playing they know they want to be playing their best baseball in late July into August with the playoffs a little over one month away. But, so far so good for Chico as they look run away with the regular season.
After giving their faithful fans 15 memorable games last year in a newly born rivalry, the lid lifter for the Chico Heat and Lincoln Potters in 2018 did not disappoint.
Trailing the 10-2 going to the bottom of the 3rd and 11-9 going to the bottom of the 9th the Heat rallied for an improbable and thrilling 12-11 win over the Potters in front of a packed house at Nettleton Stadium on Friday night.
Lincoln jumped on the Heat scoring two runs in the 2nd and 8 runs in the third to build the 10-2 lead, but the Heat would chip away four in the 5th and three more in the 6th to cut the deficit to 10-9. After the Potters cashed in a three-base error to start the 7th, the Heat would circle the wagons and deliver another fabulous chapter to this great rivalry.
Heat left-fielder Jordan Parker opened the 9th with a bloop down the left field line. Despite protests from Lincoln that the ball landed foul down the line, the umpire ruled the ball was fair and Parker cruised into 2nd with a double. After a fly out to left, Heat 1st baseman Cade Stephens drew a walk as did Alex Crouch loading the bases with only one out against Potters reliever Josh Ragatz.
With Matt Kimura at the plate and the bases loaded, Ragatz was called for a balk that forced home Parker and moved the tying and winning runs into scoring position and also took away the chance for a game ending double play. Kimura would fly out to deep center and that would bring home pinch runner Tucker Weaver tying the game at 11. The next hitter was UC Riverside product Kai Ho, who had homered earlier in the game, Ho would ground a single into right field bringing home Crouch with the winning run setting off a wild celebration at Nettleton Stadium.
With the win the Heat moved to 8-1 on the season and 6-1 on their current home stand, while the Potters had their four game win streak snapped and they fell to 6-4.
Chico out-hit the Potters 11 to 8 but Chico was quite generous to the Potters issuing 9 walks, hitting 4 Potter batters and throwing three wild pitches, when you throw in the two errors Chico committed the Heat gave the Potters 18 free 90’s in the game. The Potters had a chance to put this game away numerous times but left 12 runners on base, leaving runners at 2nd and 3rd in the 5th, bases loaded in the 6th and runners at 2nd and 3rd in the 9th.
Game two of the series is tonight at The Nett with pre game at 6:45pm and first pitch at 7:05pm
All three facets led to a series opening win for the Chico Heat on Monday night as they knocked off the Yuba-Sutter Gold Sox in game one of a three game series as Chico continues their eight game home stand. Chico starter Shane Gustafsen pitched six solid innings scattering five hits and giving up only one earned. With relief help from Sean McLaughlin and Samson Abernathy the Heat won their fifth game in six tries.
Chico also flashed the leather as Jordan Parker made a leaping catch at the wall in the 7th quieting a possible Gold Sox rally and Cole Lemmel made a fantastic running catch on the warning track in the 9th to keep the tying run off base. Chico also turned two double plays to keep the Yuba-Sutter bats silent.
Chico didn’t do much offensively but Tanner Roundy drove in a pair of Heat runs with RBI singles in the 2nd and 6th innings.
Chico looks to take game two of the series on Tuesday as they host the Gold Sox at The Nett. Game time is 6:05pm with pregame at 5:45.
Listen to Heat baseball right here on KpaySports.com and on the KpaySports app
The Chico Heat open their third season in the Great West League as they take on the San Francisco Seals at the College of Alameda on Wednesday. You can hear the game at 7:05pm with Rory Miller calling the action tonight on KpaySports.com and the KpaySports app. The pre-game comes your way at 6:45pm
Two years removed from capturing the inaugural GWL crown the Heat fell a couple of games short against the Medford Rogues last year in the League Championship Series. While there are some familiar faces returning the Heat have several new players that will be calling Chico home for the next three months.
Chico opens with a two game set against the Seals before they have their home opener Friday night against the Klamath Falls Gems at The Nett. You can hear every Chico Heat game right here as well as the KpaySports app and on your Amazon Echo with the skill of, “hey Alexa, play KpaySports dot-com.”
Rarely does a rivalry take on a life of its own in one ten week summer baseball season. But, with tonight’s 15th installment of the Chico Heat and Lincoln Potters their summer long dispute will come to a decisive end.
Tuesday night the Potters beat Chico 10-7 forcing the third and final game in the series to determine who will play Medford or Portland on Friday in the best-of-three Championship Series.
Chico and Lincoln have been primary antagonists all season long. Both Chico and Lincoln have had thrilling wins against one another, snatching victories in dramatic fashion. The Heat captured Game One of the series on Monday in a 10-inning 4-3 thriller.
Rarely does a 10-week summer lend itself to the birth of rivalry but in the case of Chico and Lincoln it is clear. While the respect is clear, the joy and zest they get from beating one another is evident. Tonight’s winner will lay down the final gauntlet in what has been a tremendous 10-week ride. One team advances to try and capture a title, while the other is left to wonder what happened on a muggy Wednesday night in Chico.
It wasn’t the Zach Hoffman double in the 10th inning that beat the Heat last night in Lincoln. When you dig deeper and see what ultimately led to Chico’s second extra-inning loss in less than a week the culprit were those free 90’s the Heat gave up in the 1st and 7th innings.
In the first inning a wild pitch with a runner at first and two outs moved Lincoln’s Will Law into scoring position. Two pitches later a double would bring home Law. He most likely would not have scored if he wasn’t at second base.
In the 7th with the Heat leading 3-1 the Potters put runners at 1st and 2nd with no one out. A wild pitch would move the runners to 2nd and 3rd and the Potters would again take advantage getting a SAC fly and an infield single to plate the tying runs.
The post-mortem of the Heat’s loss clearly points to self-inflicted wounds in their second straight loss to this season’s bitterest of rivals.
Chico still could have won Friday night’s game after loading the bases with no one out in the 9th inning but a ground out, strike out and ground out ended the threat and set the stage for Lincoln’s walk-off win.
Tonight will mark the half-way point for the 2017 season and after Saturday’s series finale the Heat will only have two games left against Lincoln. A win tonight moves Chico 1/2 game behind Lincoln, a loss and the Heat fall three back in the loss column.
Many feel these two are on a collision course for a playoff match-up, if that’s the case a win tonight would go a long way in determining home-field advantage should they meet in early August.
First pitch tonight is at 7:35pm with pre game at 7:15pm on the KpaySports app and right here on KpaySports dot-com
For the first time in 12 days the Chico Heat got a day off and they certainly looked like they needed the break.
The offensive prowess they showed agains the first place Medford Rogues at Nettleton Stadium did not accompany them to Marysville as the Heat were swept in a mini two-game set by the Gold Sox on Sunday and Monday. The day off gives the Heat a chance to decompress and recharge as they get ready for a four-game showdown versus the Lincoln Potters on Wednesday night.
The Heat lost a gut-wrencher on Monday night, a 13-inning 1-0 loss where the Gold Sox managed only four hits and stranded 17 runners but cashed in a walk, hit batsman, an error and SAC fly for the win. Chico wasted numerous opportunities in losing both games and Manager Fred Ludwig could sense his team was in need of a day off before Monday’s loss.
The Heat and Potters will lock horns on Wednesday at Nettleton Stadium with the Potters hosting the games Thursday-thru-Saturday at McBean Park. Even though the Potters are the new kid on the block they do not carry themselves like newbies. The Heat and Potters have taken turns beating each other on their home fields and the games have been unpredictable and spirited. The two squads figure to be going back and forth the rest of the season, but after Saturday’s game the two teams will only play one another twice in the final 30 games of the year.
Going into Wednesday’s series opener Hawaii-Pacific product Tanner Tokunaga leads the Great West League in four offensive categories, batting average (.385) hits (42) runs (29) and stolen bases (17) he also sits third in the league in walks with 18, trailing teammates Justin Watari (24) and Marcus Wilhite (23.)
The Heat also lead the league in stolen bases with a staggering 61 steals in 26 games. Chico is the third best hitting team in the league batting .292 and they have the second best on-base percentage at .401
Chico’s pitching is improving and they now have the second best team ERA in the league with an ERA of 4.64. They have the best WHIP (walks + hits/innings pitched. Heat pitchers have surrendered the most hits in the league but they have issued the fewest walks.
The fourth lead change of the game was the charm for the Chico Heat on Tuesday night as the Heat’s Marcus Wilhite launched a two run 9th inning shot into the netting above the right field wall giving the Heat a come-from-behind 7-6 win over the Marysville Gold Sox.
Chico had coughed up an early 3-0 lead and had squandered a few opportunities before the Butte College and Oroville-native Wilhite turned the game around on one pitch. After falling behind 0-1 Wilhite launched the next pitch from Lamar University left-hander Noah Sills to deep right. It was the second home run of the year for Wilhite, who will be attending Cal State San Marcos next year to continue his college career.
Chico jumped on the Gold Sox early when Cole Lemmel hit a two-run home run in the 2nd. Chico starter Brian Coffey cruised for the first two innings but ran into command issues in the 3rd walking three straight hitters and then hitting a batter before being relieved. Zach Sherman came in to minimize the damage and two innings later Ryan Sanchez came in to retire all six batters he would face.
The Gold Sox grabbed the lead in the 7th after Tony Bolinger singled home two runs with two outs giving Marysville a 6-5 lead. Andrew Schantz would close the door in the 9th after a couple of walks picking up his second win of the a season. Schantz has yet to allow a run in 7.1 innings on the year.
The Heat go for the series sweep tonight in Marysville as they take on the Gold Sox at 7:05pm with our pre-game coming your way at 6:45
The Chico Heat were looking to stay perfect on the road but a late inning rally by the Portland Pickles resulted in the Heat’s first road loss of the year.
Matt Starcovic’s third hit of the night, a line single to right center plated two runs in the bottom of the 9th giving the Pickles a come-from-behind 8-7 win over Chico.
Chico had scored in six of the first seven innings but their inability to tack on runs proved to be their undoing. Justin Watari got the Heat on the board in the 1st with a solo home run. Jake Davison would hit a solo shot in the 3rd. Chico was scoring but also leaving a lot of runners on base as they left the bases juiced in both the 2nd and 5th innings. With that said, Chico led 7-3 going to the bottom of the 7th inning. That’s when the tables turned as the Pickles got to the Heat bullpen.
Portland would score three runs in the 7th. The rally was aided by a dusk-aided pop up double that was lost in the high sky by Heat fielders. Portland was also fortunate to see a popped up bunt land untouched on the wet turn between first and second that extended the inning.
The Heat still took a 7-6 lead to the bottom of the 9th but Tanner Clark walked the first two hitters in the 9th, after a SAC bunt moved the runners into scoring position, Clark would walk Bobby Kinne to load the bases setting the stage for Starcovic’s heroics.
Watari went 3-for-4 for the Heat with a double and a home run driving in two. Cole Lemmel went 3-for-5 and drove in a run.
Mikey Wright pitched great for Chico. The Chico State product twirled six innings scattering six hits giving up three runs while walking no one and striking out 7.
Chico and Portland will play game two of this three game series tonight at 7:05pm with our pre-game coming your way at 6:45pm on the KpaySports app and right here on KpaySports dot-com. Just hit the listen live tab to hear all the action
A 10-3 lead is usually a sure thing but on Monday night at Nettleton Stadium the Heat learned the hard way that baseball can be fickle.
The Lincoln Potters scored eight unanswered runs in a stirring comeback to capture game one of a big early-season series between to the pole sitters in the Great West League.
Zachary Hall’s infield broken bat pop-up single scored pinch-runner Jacob Allen from third base with the tie-breaking run in the top of the 8th for Lincoln. Chico had a chance to win it in the bottom of the 9th, loading the bases with no one out but Zach Hoffman came in and shut the door striking out two and sniffing out a suicide squeeze.
Chico was led by Hawaii-Pacific product Tanner Tokunaga who had his second straight five hit game going 5-for-5. Jack Rotteveel went 4-for-5 with 3 RBI’s. Chico banged out 17 hits but stranded 14 runners and also committed 5 costly errors that kept Potter rallies alive.
The two teams meet in game two the three-game set on Tuesday night at The Nett. First pitch is at 7:05pm with the pre-game at 6:45pm on the KPAYSPORTS app and right here on KpaySports.com