Broncos clinch playoff berth after splitting series 2-2 against SFSU

By Jonathan Santiago, May 9, 2023

After falling behind by two in the series, Cal Poly Pomona’s baseball team was able to rally for a series split against San Francisco State, clinching their eighth consecutive CCAA Tournament berth.

Broncos’ head coach Randy Betten shared his thoughts on the outcome of the series.

“Anytime you go on the road you’re happy with a split,” said Betten. “It was an important weekend for us to get into the conference tournament, and a win today allowed us to do that.”

Courtesy of CPP Athletics

Senior pitcher Caleb Reyes was selected as the starting pitcher for the series opener. Reyes pitched five innings, gave up 10 hits and allowed five runs to score.

The bats were there for the Broncos early on as they scored two runs in the first inning. This would not continue throughout the game as it took until the sixth inning for the Broncos to put up another run when senior infielder Nick Lugo brought a runner home. Junior outfielder Trent MacKinney pinch hit for the Broncos in the ninth inning and hit a homer to center in his first at bat of the series. CPP would not be able to rally, losing 4-6.

The second game of the series would be a heartbreaker for the Broncos as they fell 12-11 to San Francisco State, losing the first game of that day’s doubleheader in the bottom of the ninth inning.

Scoring once again came easy for both sides in game two, and it was CPP that got off to a hot start by scoring six runs in the first inning. Sophomore outfielder Nin Burns II scored the first three runs for the Broncos with a homer to left field. The scoring continued when freshman catcher Ben Lee hit the second home run of the inning to make the score 6-0.

By the ninth inning, the Broncos had totaled 15 hits and 11 runs in the game. CPP led SFSU by just one run when senior pitcher Eric Romo was brought in to close out the game. Romo managed to strike out the first batter before ultimately surrendering two runs to San Francisco State.

Now down two games in the series, the Broncos had a chance at redemption in the second game of the doubleheader. The Broncos’ offense continued to excel in game three as they managed to put up 11 runs without hitting a single homer in the game.

It was senior pitcher Noel Soto who got the start, pitching a complete game while surrendering only one run. Soto was dominant from the mound, striking out five batters and walking none on 92 total pitches.

With a stellar performance on the mound, Soto helped the Broncos fight their way back into the series with an 11-1 victory.

Soto spoke about his complete game.

“Going into the game after losing the first two, I wanted to treat it as a playoff game and go as far as I could,” said Soto. “When I got to around the fifth inning, I knew I was going to be able to finish the game, and I’m just glad I was able to get all the way through it.

It was a statement victory for the Broncos who managed to keep a positive mindset after a narrow defeat in game two.

“The team responded well,” said head coach Betten. “It was a heartbreaking loss and to come back and perform the way they did.”

Betten also spoke on Soto’s performance.

“He kept his pitch count down and kept executing his pitches, and the game was at hand,” said Betten. “We thought, ‘Hey let’s save our bullpen,’ and it all worked out.”

The Broncos closed the series out with a 6-5 victory over San Francisco State, ending the season on a positive note. The offense was led by MacKinney who put up three hits, one home run and three RBIs.

MacKinney was a constant in the series, with a total stat line of nine hits, seven RBIs and two home runs, all off 16 at bats.

MacKinney spoke about his great performances at the plate.

“I noticed a couple of patterns that opposing teams have been using against me, and they’ve been doing the same thing so I tried to make some adjustments at the plate,” said MacKinney.

MacKinney also shared his thoughts on the team’s confidence, heading into the postseason.

“I think we’ve figured some things out at the right time,” said MacKinney. “We are all really excited to go play at the conference tournament, and we are in a really good position to see where we can go.”

With the series split, CPP is guaranteed a spot at the CCAA tournament. Their opening match will be a rematch against San Francisco State at 3:30 p.m. May 10.

Feature image courtesy of CPP Athletics

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