In a must-win situation, the Cal State Stanislaus baseball team employed the whatever-necessary strategy on Friday. However, the Warriors came up short as they lost a 6-5 heartbreaker to Chico State in 12 innings.
Chico State used two late rallies to tie and a solo homer in the 12th for the go-ahead run as the Wildcats improved to 34-13 overall and 24-13 in the California Collegiate Athletic Association. Chico State clinched a berth for the conference tournament with the win while Cal State Stanislaus (26-21, 19-18 CCAA) saw its postseason hopes fade away.
Catcher, and ninth place batter, Roger Boulden turned out to be the hero with his first home run as a Wildcat to lift Chico State. Boulden came in as a pinch runner in the eighth and grounded out in the ninth.
Despite a tremendous effort in relief, Rafael Vasquez suffered the loss on the mound as he fell to 6-4 on the season. He threw the final 4 1/3 innings and gave up four hits, struck out three and one walk. Starter Chris Short went six innings and gave up four runs on nine hits and five Ks.
The Warriors put up five runs early for a 5-1 lead after three innings. Three straight hits, capped by a two-run double by DJ Arellano gave Stanislaus a 2-1 lead in the second inning. Arrellano came around to score after a groundout and a throwing error by the Chico shortstop to make it 3-1.
Stanislaus tagged on two runs in the third with four straight hits off Chico starter Kagen Hopkins. Three singles were followed by a two-run double by Joe Medeiros down the right-field line to make it 5-1. With nobody out and two runners in scoring position, the Warriors weren't able to capitalize further as Hopkins got two grounders and a pop-up to end the inning.
Chico State put together a three-run rally in the seventh with three hits, two walks and a wild pitch to close the gap to one. Then pinch hitter Matt Anderson singled in Eric Angerer, who led off the frame with a hit and got in scoring position with a groundout, to tie the game.
Having already used his best starter of late in Short and mainstay reliever in Anthony Gotelli, head coach Kenny Leonesio went to the starting rotation and sent out Vasquez. Vasquez cruised through the 10th and 11th innings and got a strikeout to start the 12th before Boulden's at-bat.
After Chico went ahead, the Wildcats sent closer Mike Botelho to the mound for the 12th. Facing Botelho, who boasts a 1.74 ERA with 10 saves in 18 appearances, the Warriors did not go down quietly.
Justin Manci singled with one out and went to third on a long single to right-center by Andy Yingling to give the Warriors a huge opportunity. However, a pop-up on a squeeze attempt and a groundout to short ended the game - and the Warriors' chance of qualifying for the CCAA tournament.
Entering the weekend, the Warriors needed to sweep Chico State and hope for two wins by Cal State Monterey Bay at Sonoma State to get into the postseason event.
On Friday, the Warriors' offense was led by Ross Gonsalves who went 3-for-6. Manci and Medeiros each had two hits.