Men’s baseball finished off their season at the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) Tournament in Mesa, Ariz., winning two of their four games. They fell short of the title game after a spurt of runs came too late for the Redhawks against New Mexico State. Seattle U’s own redshirt junior Cameron Sterne earned honors on the WAC all-tournament team.
The team finished 34-23 overall—the second most wins in Division I program history. Seattle U’s own redshirt junior Cameron Sterne earned honors on the WAC all-tournament team. For the seven seniors, three out of their four seasons have racked up over 30 wins, marking not only an accomplishment for the seniors but for the nine-year-old revived baseball program out of Seattle University.
“The senior class was the most impressive we have had go through since starting the program. I am very proud of the leadership they provided and how well they made the younger player feel part of the organization right away. They will be greatly missed,” Head Coach Donny Harrell said.
The Redhawks played four games in four days, giving it their all to compete with the top teams in their conference.
Starting last Wednesday, consistency on the offense and defense alike locked down a solid win and good start to Seattle U’s series with a win against Northern Colorado 8-3. Coming out hot with five runs in the first inning, the Redhawks continued a shut-out until Northern Colorado scored two runs in the sixth. Pitcher Tarik Skubal threw a phenomenal game to establish Redhawk control.
“Tarik gets overlooked [when talking about stand-out players during the tournament] because it was early—but to strike out 10 hitters in a tourney game is very impressive,” Coach Harrell said on their first game.
In WAC only play, Sacramento State’s Parker Brahms and Seattle U’s Tarik Skubal tied for the strikeout lead with 64 in 46.1 innings pitched.
The winning streak continued as the Redhawk’s advanced into the winner’s bracket on Thursday, playing first-seed Grand Canyon University. The 3-2 Redhawk victory over the Grand Canyon University was a tournament upset and propelled Seattle U further into the winner’s brac . A spectacular game for Jake Prizina kept the runs low and the morale high going into the Redhawks second win.
“Jake Prizina’s performance was one of the best pitching performances in the history of our program. It was also one of the best I had seen from any team in the tourney over the last five years,” Coach Harrell said.
For the third game, however, the pitching was no match for the New Mexico’s offensive force, who secured an 11-1 win. Getting only five hits against the Aggies, the Redhawks could not come back as the opposition’s hitting racked up 13 hits for 11 runs.
On Saturday morning’s game, emotions ran high for the team as they went into their final game against Sac State, especially for the seniors.
“Our energy going into the game was really good. We knew it could potentially be our last game, but nobody acted like it. Everyone seemed confident, and we were familiar with the matchups during the game, so it was almost like any other day at the yard,” senior Dalton Hurd said. “For the seniors it was a bit different, and I only say that because I know what it feels like to be a freshman, sophomore and junior. It was really easy to play the game for the reasons you love… there was no time to waste.”
In the bottom of the first inning, Hurd rocketed a back-to-back solo homer following first-year Justin Mazzone to get an early 2-0 lead.
A combination of defensive errors and shaky performances on the mound kept the Hornets in the lead, knocking off five runs in the second.
Invigorated by a deep two-run homer by Sean Sutton to bring home Hurd, the Redhawks continued to fight in the bottom of the eighth, still trailing 10-3. Lucas Denney would fire the Redhawk’s third homer of the game. The inning ended with the Redhawks trailing 10-7. The Hornets would go on to hit two runs off of Seattle U’s relief pitcher in the ninth.
“They never gave up…They truly pulled for each other and became unselfish throughout the postseason. They competed for each inning throughout the tourney,” Coach Harrell said. With bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth, the Redhawks could not bring it home with a hit, losing 12-7.
Sacramento State went on to have a long day of play up against New Mexico State later that Saturday night for the WAC championship. It was a tournament-record 15th inning game, leading up to the Hornet victory Sunday morning (4-3) and forcing a later winner-take-all game that afternoon.The excitement ended with New Mexico (4-3) clinching their first WAC tournament title.
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