Despite good pitching, 'Cats go down


With a struggling offense still trying to find its way, the Chico State baseball team has put together a solid start behind superb starting pitching, solid defense, a few timely hits, and a strong bullpen.

So far, the starting pitching has not faltered. But when something else has, the Wildcats have found themselves in trouble, as was the case in Saturday’s 3-1 loss at Stanislaus State.

Hilario Tovar dominated on the mound, pitching into the seventh. But a one-out error opened the door for the Warriors in the seventh. They took advantage, scoring the go-ahead run and adding another, which turned out to be the difference in the game.

In his six-and-two-thirds-innings of work, Tovar allowed three runs, only one of which was earned. He surrendered seven hits, struck out 10, and did not walk a batter. The senior transfer from San Jose State is now 0-1 despite an ERA of 2.30. He’s struck out 27 and has not issued a walk or hit a batter in 15 and two-thirds innings.

Tovar, Casey Costello, and Grant Larson, in eight combined starts, have accounted for 44.1 innings while striking out 60 batters and walking three. They are a combined 3-1 while posting an earned run average of 1.83.

The Wildcats threatened in each of the first three innings, getting the leadoff hitter on each time. In fact, Chico State’s leadoff hitter reached six times in nine innings, but they failed to get any of those runners home.

Their lone run, and the game’s first, came in the fifth frame. Cody Stofiel got things started with a one-out single to left. Dustin Miller followed with a base hit to center. Cameron Santos came to the plate with two on and two down. He hit a high chopper up the middle. The second baseman ran it down, but his throw, which was not going to get the speedy Santos, was wild and got away from the first baseman, allowing Stofiel to score from second.

Santos’ infield hit was the only one the Wildcats got in 13 chances with a runner in scoring position Saturday.

Santos has now hit safely in all eight games this season. He and Miller are tied for the team lead in hitting at .370. Casey Henderson banged out two hits Saturday, including a double.

Trevor Steinman, RJ Hassey, and Turner Olson logged the Wildcats’ other hits. Olson, a redshirt freshman, had a pinch-hit single leading off the ninth but was stranded.

The Wildcats’ best chance at a comeback came in the eighth when Henderson and Steinman stroked back-to-back one-out singles. A double play ended the threat.

Chico State reliever Andrew Lopez retired the Warriors in order in the ninth for his third consecutive scoreless inning to start the season.

The Wildcats, now 5-3 overall and 1-1 in the California Collegiate Athletic Association, return home to finish the four-game series against Stanislaus State (5-3, 1-1 CCAA) with a doubleheader beginning Sunday at 1 p.m.

Chico State will be going for its third straight series victory to start the season.

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