For the second time in school history, the Sonoma State baseball team is headed to the NCAA Division II World Series. The Seawolves beat Cal Poly Pomona 8-5 on Sunday afternoon in the west region championship game to clinch their first regional title since 2008.
"Obviously, this is an incredible feeling and a culmination of a year's worth of work and really a career's worth of work," Sonoma State head coach John Goelz said. "This is only our second world series in my 26 years here at Sonoma State so this means a lot and we're excited. Hopefully we'll be ready to play."
The Seawolves will face the midwest regional champion, Grand Valley State, on Sunday, May 29th at 10:00 AM PDT in Cary, North Carolina. The nation's top-ranked team, the Lakers come into the World Series at 52-3 overall and winners of 32 consecutive games. More information on the World Series will be forthcoming.
While Sunday's game will always be memorable for securing the Seawolves' second-ever west region crown, it also included Kyle Jones' 229th career hit, which broke Derek Bell's school record. Jones would finish 2-for-3 and following the game was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player.
"We all pulled together, executed when we needed to today and we're excited to be heading back to the College World Series," said Jones. "I was spoiled as a freshman (to reach the CWS), but this means a lot to me to be heading back as a senior."
Jones was joined on the all-tournament team by Kenny Arnerich, O'Koyea Dickson, and Alex Todd.
Sonoma State bounced back from Saturday's crushing defeat by plating a run in the first inning off Pomona starter Jake Reed. Following a two-out walk to O'Koyea Dickson, Alex Todd blasted a triple to the gap in right center field to make it 1-0.
The Seawolves would be able to enjoy the lead for a short time, however, as three consecutive errors in the second led to two Bronco runs.
Sonoma grabbed the lead back in the fifth when, following base hits, Cameron Cook and Steven Filippi scored on an error. They'd plate another when Todd drove in Dickson with a double down the left field line, making it 4-2.
In the seventh inning, the Broncos took the upper hand again in the see-saw battle when home runs by Chris Miller and Humberto Tovalin made it 5-4 Cal Poly Pomona. Following a two-run blast by Tovalin, Coach Goelz turned to Thursday's starter, senior Kenny Arnerich, who closed the door on the Broncos. Arnerich, pitching just three days after shutting out UC San Diego, was brilliant again, holding a talented Cal Poly Pomona offense in check.
Trailing 5-4 heading into the bottom of the seventh, the Seawolves proved they had one final surge of offense. Four consecutive singles led off the inning, allowing the Seawolves to tie the game on a Kyle Jones RBI. The next batter, Randy Wells lifted a deep fly ball that brought home another run and gave Sonoma a 6-5 lead. Freshman Garrett Schwartz would then single for his second hit of the game, driving in another run, before Kevin Cramer brought home the inning's final run with an infield single. In all, the Seawolves would single six times in the seventh inning and score four runs.
A three-run cushion would be more than enough for Arnerich, who shut down the Broncos on just two hits the rest of the way. The victory upped Arnerich's record to 9-2 on the year.
Todd finished the game 3-for-5 with three RBIs and Dickson scored three times.
Jacob Fiss started the game for Sonoma State and went three innings before giving way to Brian Bordagaray, who pitched the next three and a third.