Before advancing to the Western Athletic Conference Baseball Tournament Championship game in Arizona at the end of last week, the Seattle University baseball team was a victory away from setting a school record for wins in a single season.
Entering the weekend at 29-26, the team finished second in the WAC regular season standings by just a half-game and defeated Utah Valley and Bakersfield to collect the team’s first-ever Division I postseason contests. Despite losing the final two games of the tournament to CSUB in the late innings, the Redhawks put together the winningest season in Redhawk baseball history.
The tournament began with a convincing 7-1 win over the bottom seeded Utah Valley University. Junior Skyler Genger threw 6.2 scoreless innings despite throwing in several high stress innings, given that he allowed 5 of 7 Utah leadoff men to reach base. Six Redhawks collected RBIs in the effort, with senior first baseman Grant Newton leading the charge at 2 RBI on the day. Freshman Ryan Freitas and senior Garret Anderson combined for 2.1 innings of one run relief, with the sole Utah run coming on back to back hits by Mark Krueger and Craig Brinkerhoff in the eighth inning off of Anderson, who would go on to retire the remaining Wolverines in order.
Seattle U then moved on to a three game set with the Bakersfield Roadrunners. In game one, the Redhawks scored early and stimey the Bakersfield comeback attempts with strong pitching at the hands of freshman (and Arizona native) Tarik Skubal and senior Ted Hammond. Skubal threw six innings of three run ball before handing it over to Hammond, who went on to finish the game with a two hit performance over three innings. Strong offensive output allowed the two Seattle U pitchers to relax a bit. Seven Redhawks collected hits, with four of them putting on multiple hit performances. Freshman Dalton Hurd and sophomore Michael McCann each collected three RBIs on the day.
The final two games of the series ended in disappointment for the top seeded Redhawks. On Saturday, Seattle U held a two-run lead going into the ninth inning after already having given up a two-run lead in the ninth inning that forced extra innings, whereupon the Roadrunners would score on a bases loaded walk to end the ballgame with a final score of 6-5. Both teams finished with over ten hits on the day, but the Roadrunners’ late inning efforts was enough to edge the Redhawks.
The loss forced a winner-take-all style game on Sunday afternoon at Hokoham Stadium. In that game, Seattle U would again hold a lead into the eighth inning. Up 4-3 in the inning, Seattle U would once again allow Bakersfield to come inching back and eventually take the lead off a bases clearing three run double from Mylz Jones. Despite a scoring opportunity in the ninth, the Redhawks would fail to score and the Roadrunners would run off with the WAC title and an NCAA tournament berth.
Despite the outcome of the tournament, the Redhawks still have a lot to be proud of.
“This team has nothing to be ashamed about,” Seattle U head coach Donny Harreltold reporters after the game. “They gave it everything they had this week, but a couple of breaks did not go our way.”
“I thank the seniors for four years of significant contributions to the program, and I hope the returners will use this to push themselves to get better so that we can better handle this situation the next time we reach this point.”