No. 6 Chico State rolls in opener
Hopkins retires 22 of last 24 batters he faced en route to victory
SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. -- For those wondering whether Kagen Hopkins was okay following his rough outing last Friday, the junior right-hander answered loudly and clearly as he led No. 6 Chico State to a 9-1 series-opening win at Cal State San Bernardino on Thursday afternoon.
Hopkins fired a complete game five-hitter and retired 22 of the last 24 batters he faced during seven consecutive shutout innings after a second-inning solo home run. He struck out four and did not walk a batter while improving to 5-3 on the season.
Cody Webber hit a two-run double in a four-run fourth inning for the Wildcats, Cody Foster belted a three-run homer in the seventh, and TJ Yasuhara and Pierson Jeremiah stayed hot with two hits apiece. Jeremiah had reached base in 11 consecutive plate appearances before his streak ended with a shoestring-catch sacrifice fly in the eighth. Yasuhara extended his hitting streak to 11 games.
Chico State improved to 26-9 overall and 16-9 in the California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) with its third road win in a row. Cal State San Bernardino dipped to 14-12 overall and 11-10 in the CCAA.
Hopkins allowed eight runs on nine hits in an 1.1 innings last Friday at Cal State L.A., which blemished his once sparkling stat line. But he looked like the staff ace again on Thursday, especially after a bit of a shaky second inning.
After retiring the Coyotes in order in the first, the last two hitters via strikeout, Hopkins allowed a second inning leadoff homer to Darren Dworak and then a pair of two-out singles. He struck out Mike Newell swinging to end the threat, minimizing the damage, and starting a dominating stretch of pitching.
Newell was the first of nine consecutive batters retired by Hopkins. That streak was snapped by Newell’s two-out single in the fifth, but Hopkins got Ethan Chapman to ground out to end the inning. In the process, Chapman became the first of another nine in a row retired by Hopkins. Chapman’s two-out single in the eighth snapped that streak, but Hopkins got the next four hitters out to end the game.
It marked the first nine-inning complete-game outing by a Wildcat since Scott Greene did it against Western Oregon on April 25, 2010.
The Wildcats’ offense broke through in the third. Ian McKay was hit by a pitch leading off the frame and then Yasuhara singled and Jeremiah was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Jeremiah’s hustle from first on a Blake Gibbs grounder allowed him to beat the throw and the first run to score. Yasuhara then scored on a throwing error before Webber doubled to right-center to drive in two more runs and make it 4-1.
A walk to Ben Manlove and Jeremiah’s base hit set the table for Foster in the seventh. The senior center fielder quickly emptied it, launching his fourth home run of the season over the wall in left field.
The Wildcats capped the scoring in the eighth on an RBI-single by Yasuhara and Jeremiah’s sacrifice fly.