The baseball team headed north last week to take on the Cal State Monterey Bay Otters in a four-game series.
The series began on Saturday when the Broncos demolished the Otters 15-5.
In the first inning, sophomore right fielder Cesar Lopez started off the scoring for the Broncos as he singled to center field, bringing in junior first baseman Brennan McKenzie from third.
The Otters took advantage of a fielding error to score one run in the bottom of the first.
The Broncos were able to take back the lead in the second inning by scoring four runs.
Senior designated hitter Nic Hernandez started off his impressive night with a double to left center which brought in two runs for the Broncos.
Soon after, junior second baseman Ryon Knowles stepped up to the plate and blasted it over the center field wall to bring in the final two runs of the inning.
“My approach was to just be aggressive, not hold the team back, and just look for a pitch that I could hit well and far,” Knowles said. “I happened to get quite a few and I wasn’t missing them. Things were just working out for me.”
In the top of the fifth inning, the Broncos added two more runs to the scoreboard. Sophomore center fielder Nick Peifer grounded out to second base, bringing in Knowles from third. Then, Lopez advanced to third on a passed ball before sophomore shortstop Drew Cowley brought him in with a single.
The Otters’ senior catcher Mason Allen found his perfect pitch and homered into left center in the bottom of the fifth inning to bring in two runs.
With a run batted in after a single to right field by Knowles, the Broncos had an 8-4 advantage in the sixth inning.
In the seventh, the Broncos scored three more runs when McKenzie tripled down the right field line, bringing in two runs. Then McKenzie made his way home after a single up the middle by Hernandez.
Senior righty Tim Holdgrafer started on the mound for the Broncos, pitching a total of seven innings. Holdgrafer allowed four runs, seven hits and struck out five.
“We had good energy and we came off to a good start which propelled us to have some confidence against a good team,” Holdgrafer said. “It was big for our team because we haven’t been playing that well together and it was big for us to finally get some momentum and rally together.”
Senior righty Ben Mora was brought out of the bullpen to finish out the final two innings.
The Broncos continued their hot hitting with another 4-run inning in the eighth.
The bases were loaded when the Otters walked senior third baseman Angel Ortiz to bring in a run. With the bases still loaded, McKenzie was hit by a pitch, bringing in another. Then to finish out the inning and his impressive performance at the plate, Knowles doubled to bring in the final two runs for the Broncos.
The Otters managed to muster up one run in the ninth, leaving the Broncos with a 15-5 victory in game one.
“The guys who are supposed to get big swings for us in the big RBI spots got those hits and that’s Hernandez, McKenzie and Knowles,” head coach Randy Betten said. “Tim [Holdgrafer] always gives us energy on the mound and we just catapulted that with getting some swings; it was really nice to see.”
The Broncos and Otters faced each other again on Saturday in a double-header.
Despite the blowout in game one, the Otters came back to defeat the Broncos in both games.
In game one of the double-header, the Broncos took the lead in the second inning before going back-and-forth with the Otters. In the eighth inning, the Otters put up five runs to walk away with a 9-3 victory.
Senior righty Dylan Francis pitched the first three innings before the Broncos went to the bullpen. The Broncos used a total of eight pitchers in Saturday’s opener.
In game two, the Broncos took a 3-0 lead in the second inning. However, in the fourth inning, the Otters’ bats came alive, scoring eight runs to seal the game 8-3.
Freshman righty Drew Atherton started on the mound, pitching a little over three innings. The Broncos went through five pitchers in game two in an attempt to quiet the Otters’ bats.
“I want to see more competition week in and week out, not just one game on a weekend. We addressed that at practice, about competing all the way through no matter what the circumstance,” Betten said. “I just want to see more competition and fight throughout the team and we will see what happens. We are just taking it one game at a time and trying to compete.”
In the final game of the series, the Broncos defeated the Otters 19-0, getting the series split. The Broncos’ offense had a total of 22 hits in the game. The Broncos will be home this week as they take on Stanislaus State. Game one will kick off at 6 p.m. Friday on Scolinos Field.
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