Heat dominate first half; gear up for stretch run

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.

 

Heat Rally from 8 runs down to stun rival Potters…..

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

 

Heat use pitching and defense to win series opener versus Gold Sox

Starting pitching…check. Relief pitching…check. Timely hits…you bet.

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

Chico Heat open 2018 season in Bay Area….

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.”

 

POST-SCRIPT: Remarkable Chico State Softball Season Ends but Legacy is Cemented

For a team that had so many great hits and moments their 2018 season ended one hit short.

The team affectionately known as #Team50 staged a miracle rally in the elimination game in the  bottom of the 7th inning at James I Moyer Field in Salem, Virginia at the Division II National Championship Tournament,  only to see their rally fall 60 feet short. Southern Arkansas outlasted the Wildcats in a 12-11 thriller that won’t soon be forgotten.

It may take awhile for the Chico State team to look back on this game with admiration, but in due time they will realize it was THAT type of effort and spirited play that made this team so lovable.  This Wildcat team made fans out of all of us, as we sat mezmerized over the last 6 weeks marveling at their amazing win streak (29 games) and their thrilling CCAA Tournament Title, Sub-Regional wins over Cal Baptist in Chico and their gut-churning Super Regional win over perennial power Dixie State. The feats are etched.

Chico jumped on top in the bottom of the 2nd inning after banging out a hit and drawing three walks to score the game’s first run. But Southern Arkansas batted around in the top of the 3rd chasing Chico starter Haley Gilham, scoring four times and taking a 4-1 lead. The Cats immediately came off the mat to score four of their own in the bottom of the third, highlighted by a 3-run blast by Bailey Akins giving Chico State a 5-4 lead.

Chico State Head Coach Angel Shamblin had pulled  Gilham in the top of the 3rd  she went to left-handed reliever Sam Mulock. The southpaw retired seven hitters in a row bridging the 3rd thru 5th innings and after the Wildcats added an insurance run in the 4th, Chico took a 6-4 lead into the top of the 6th inning.

Mulock would walk the lead-off hitter in the 6th and that would spark a four-run Southern Arkansas  rally. They plated four runs in the inning to turn a two-run deficit into an 8-6 lead. The Cats would scratch out a run in the bottom of the 6th on a RBI double by senior Cyrena Taylor, who had a tremendous national tournament. Taylor was on base all five times she came to the plate in Friday night’s game, drawing two walks, banging out two hits and reaching base on an error. Taylor was only retired once in her nine plate appearances at the tournament. But, the Cats would leave Taylor at 3rd and trailed 8-7 heading to the 7th,

Southern Arkansas would once again add runs in the 7th and it came on one swing of the bat by Megan Godoyo, her two-out grand slam had seemingly put the game out of reach going to the bottom of the 7th inning as Chico trailed 12-7.

Chico was down five with only three outs to go, but the Wildcats gave their faithful followers one final thrilling half inning of softball. With one out Bailey Akins hit her 2nd home run of the night cutting the Wildcats deficit to 12-8. The next hitter Megan Bowley would work the count full and eventually hit a liner that was dropped by the Southern Arkansas shortstop for an error, Wendy Cardinali then hit a pop-up in front of home plate that was clanked by the So. Arkansas reliever Brooke Ford-Nelson, she then inadvertently  kicked the ball all the way to the back-stop putting runners at 1st and 3rd with one out. After Kristin Worley’s laser hit the Southern Arkansas second baseman in the shin and kicked into short center, the Cats had cut the deficit to 12-9 and had the tying run coming to the plate in Ari Marsh. Marsh would line one into the left-center field gap and it skipped all the way to the wall both Bowley and Cardinali would score and all of a sudden the Cats trailed only 12-11 and had the tying run at second with only one out. Taylor then lined a single to right moving Marsh to 3rd. Chico had the tying and winning runs on base. After a ground out back to the pitcher by Karli Skowrup moved Taylor, the possible winning run to second, Claire Wayne stepped in. Her pop-up to third base would end it, bringing to a close a remarkable and incredibly entertaining 2018 Chico State softball season.

The Wildcats rallies were stuff of legend, but when they look back they may cringe at the opportunities missed, not only from Friday night but also from Thursday night’s tournament opening loss versus Saint Leo. In that 3-2 loss the Cats managed only four hits but they received seven walks while leaving  9 runners on base all while going 0-for-8 with RISP. On Friday the Cats banged out 10 hits, received 6 walks and 5 base runners due to Southern Arkansas errors. Chico would go 5-for-16 with runners in scoring position.

#Team50’s season may have ended without a National Championship, but in the end they may have done something even more valuable for their program and school. For one four-month stretch they became the talk of the town, they seized the mantle of most favored status in the athletic department halls  and left a lasting legacy of excellence that will be very difficult to top. Years from now when #Team50 gathers at reunions, they will smile and remember, a season that was, and a legacy that was left behind.

 

Photo Courtesy of Chico State Athletics 

http://www.chicowildcats.com

Chico looks to bounce back after opening day loss……

It’s a new day for the Chico State Wildcat Softball team. After a near flawless regular season and post-season run the Wildcats experienced their first bit of adversity by falling to Saint Leo in their opening  game 3-2. The Wildcats had numerous opportunities to get on the board, leaving the bases loaded in the 1st and 3rd innings and managing only run in those innings.

The Cats also went 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position striking out four times and popping up twice. It was an uncharacteristic performance by the Wildcats who took pride all year in getting those big hits in those big spots.

Chico gets a chance at redemption and a chance to continue in the National Championship Tournament as they play Southern Arkansas today. Southern Arkansas fell to St. Anselm 2-1 in 9 innings yesterday.

Because of inclement weather in the forecast the schedule for the Saturday games from Salem If the Wildcats win they will play Angelo State on Saturday morning at 5:30am with our pregame show coming your way at 5:25am

You can listen to all Chico State Tournament games from Salem, Virginia right here and on the KpaySports app

 

PHOTO COURTESY OF CHICO STATE WILDCATS ATHLETICS 

 

 

Salem Bound: Chico State Softball begins pursuit of big prize…

The Chico State Softball team has been magical for three months and three weeks. If they can be magical for another week they have a chance to wrap up an amazing season with some hardware.

The 55-4 Wildcats left for Salem, Virginia Tuesday morning as they chase a Division II Softball National Championship. Chico rolled through their CCAA competition for much of the year, but faced stiff challenges in their sub-regional and Super Regional match-ups.

Two weeks ago Northwest Nazarene took a 2-0 lead into the 5th inning of the sub-regional opener before the Wildcats responded with a win. Then, the Cats battled to a scoreless tie versus Cal Baptist in the winners bracket game before winning 3-0. Then, to wrap up the sub-regional the Cats had to rally again for a 7-2 victory over Cal Baptist.

Last week’s Super Regional was a thriller as the Cats had to battle in a decisive third game. This time rallying from a 2-0 deficit in the 3rd inning of the title tilt. Chico would emerge with a 4-3 win on the guts of all-world hurler Haley Gilham and three home runs that propelled Chico to Salem.

The Wildcat women have been methodically dominant in the 2018 campaign using the long ball for a school record 61 home runs. Karli Skowrup and Baily Akins have each hit 14 home runs while Skowrup is 13th in the nation with 64 runs batted in.

Kristin Worley leads the Cats with a .385 batting average and a .474 on base percentage while Amanda Flores (.369) Skowrup (.368) and Ari Marsh (.356) are all hitting over .350

In this, the 50th year of Chico State Wildcat Softball the Wildcats are trying to do what only one other team was able to accomplish and that is win the softball national title. Back in 1980, the Wildcat program was not part of the NCAA, but they would capture the national championship. Chico won the West Regional on 2002 making their only other trip to the national tournament in the school’s history.

9th year head coach Angel Shamblin has built quite the program. The Wildcats have been consistent winners over the years but it has all come to fruition in the 2018 campaign. The combination of exemplary pitching, power bats and an unwavering toughness and grit has Chico on the brink of a national title.

Their quest begins on Thursday, games you can hear on the KpaySports app (download for free in app store) right here on KpaySports.com and on your Amazon Echo device with the skill of, “hey Alexa, play KpaySports dot-com.” Your Wildcat pregame comes your way at 3:25 from the KpaySports studios with first pitch slated for 3:30pm

For a more detailed account of the Wildcats amazing journey, click the link below to read the Chico State National Tournament preview written by Rory Miller

http://www.chicowildcats.com/news/2018/5/21/softball-wildcats-head-to-salem-looking-to-make-50th-year-the-most-historic-of-all.aspx?path=softball

 

PHOTO COURTESY of ChicoWildcats.com

Listen to the Chico Pomona Replay

Beginning at midnight May 2nd KpaySports along with the KpaySports app and on Amazon Echo will replay Games 1, 3 and 4 from this past weekend’s series with Cal Poly Pomona. The Wildcats and Broncos split a highly competitive series as they battled at Scolinos Field. Just clink on the Listen Live tab on this page or download the KpaySports app on your mobile device to listen to 24 hours of Kpaysports programming with archived Chico State, Butte College, Chico Heat and high school games.

Our schedule beginning at midnight tonight
12a-3am Chico @ Pomona Larson and DeVito lead Cats over Broncos
3am-5am Chico @ Pomona Casey Costello tosses one hit shut-out
5am-9am Chico @ Pomona Broncos beat Cats 12-10 in a slugfest
9a-12pm Larson DeVito game
12pm-2pm Costello twirls gem
2pm-6pm Broncos win slugfest
6pm-9pm DeVito 3 run bomb supports Larson gem
9pm-11pm Costello dazzles
11pm-3am Bernardy torments Chico again Broncos win 12-10

Panda Pitches in 9th

By Chandler Guadagnin

A game that was other wise dismal finished with a bit of a funny flourish. With the Giants trailing the Dodgers 15-6 in game one of a day-night double header, Bruce Bochy turned to the bullpen for a mop up ninth inning. However, it wasn’t a pitcher, nor was it any ordinary position player. It was Pablo Sandoval!

In game one of the double header, San Francisco leaned on their bullpen heavily, for seven and two-thirds innings. To spare the bullpen for game two of the day; manager, Bruce Bochy, called on the 268 pound, Panda to mop it up, and mop it up he did. Panda tossed 11 pitches to get through the 8, 9 and 1 hitters 1-2-3. That was the first and only time in the contest that the Dodgers were retired in order.

Game two of today’s double header comes your way at 7:05PM PT on KNBR 680 and CSN Bay Area. Johnny Cueto hits the hill for the Giants. He will be opposed by LA’s Alex Wood.

Watch the Panda’s Performance