Facing elimination the Chico Heat turned to their greatest strength.
With two stellar pitching performances the Heat captured the inaugural Great West League Championship by beating Medford twice on the road. After a dismal Game One performance, where the Heat committed six errors and lost 12-4, the Heat rebounded with two wins to capture the title.
Chico was able to score 9 runs in their Game 2 win but the story was the performance of Arizona Wildcat Luke Soroko. The right-hander, 17 months removed from Tommy John surgery, took a scalpel to the Medford Rogues line-up limiting them to six hits and one earned run in a complete game victory as they Heat forced a third and final game.
Game 3 featured the penultimate game of Stuart Bradley’s year. The Chico State right-hander pitched a complete game 4-hit shut-out striking out six, while the Heat offense cashed in an error, a bunt and a single from Wildcat teammate Kyle Kramer to score the only run they would need.
The clincher was quite the capper for Bradley who gave up only 8 earned runs in the final 80 1/3 innings he pitched on the season. Bradley rediscovered his change-up this summer, after losing confidence in the pitch during his Chico State season. He had three pitches he could throw for strikes and avoided the big inning which plagued him at times out of the bullpen for Wildcats.
The Heat certainly had a formidable line-up with BYU products Keaton Kringlen and Daniel Schneemann having fantastic summers. Kringlen hit well above .308 with 3 HR’s and 28 RBI. Schneemann hit .334 with 26 RBI and got hot at the perfect time down the stretch for Chico. UC Davis Aggie Cameron Olson was an extra base hit machine banging out 17 doubles and 7 HR’s during the year. Chico State outfielder Josh Falco had a solid season driving in 22 runs and banging out six triples, while also getting dosed 16 times. All of the complimentary offensive pieces were critical to the Heat’s success down the stretch, but the run to the post-season probably would not have been possible without the play of Jerome Hill and Miles Bice. The Dixie State teammates had to leave the squad early to get back to school in St. George. Even though they weren’t there for the conclusion, the two can take great pride in their contributions to the championship.
The numbers are staggering for Chico’s BIG THREE on the mound and when you throw in the performances of Austin Lee and Ryan Byrd, there is no denying how important the Heat’s dominance on the mound led them to a Heat championship.
Luke Soroko 4-0 1.67 ERA
Stuart Bradley 8-2 1.57 ERA
Adam Davenport 4-3 2.28 ERA
Ryan Byrd 6-1 1.66 ERA
Austin Lee 2-4 3.98 ERA
The hashtag usually reads #PitchingWins, and in the Heat’s case, it not only wins, it won them a championship