College Sports

Four-game win streak propels Stanislaus State baseball team into West Region rankings

After winning three games against ranked opponents in a little over a week, the Stanislaus State baseball team is on the radar in the West Region.

The Warriors are ranked sixth in the first regional Top 10 poll released by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers of America.

The Warriors swept Chico State, ranked No. 21 in Division II in the preseason, on Sunday, eight days after beating preseason No. 7 Azusa Pacific. Stanislaus State is off to a 6-2 start — with the only two losses against Azusa Pacific on Feb. 8.

“It’s great that our guys have been noticed for all their hard work,” head coach Kenny Leonesio said. “It’s early in the season and we have a lot more baseball to play.”

The Warriors have shown they can out-slug and out-pitch their opponents. Stan State beat Chico State on Sunday 14-11, then shut out the Wildcats, 2-0, in the nightcap.

The Warriors also blanked Azusa Pacific, 3-0, in Turlock on Feb. 9.

It’s been a team effort on offense with three starters hitting over .367.

While Braedan Oki (Tracy/Delta College) leads the team with a .387 average as the leadoff man, the biggest slugger has been Grant Bunker (Simi Valley/Moorpark). Bunker has a .385 average with an OPS of 1.259. He has three doubles, two homers and eight RBIs in 26 at bats. His slugging percentage is .731.

On the mound, preseason third-team All-American Chase Wheatcroft (Santa Clarita/College of the Canyons) has been dominant.

Freshman Rylan Tinsley has been untouchable. He has yet to yield a run and has only given up two hits in 13 innings pitched with 14 strikeouts. The lefty from Stockton’s Weston Ranch High School is 3-0.

Tinsley pitched five shutout innings in the 14-11 over Chico. Wheatcroft, who has three saves this season, got the start in Game 2 on Sunday and threw 7 1/3 innings of scoreless baseball.

Even though he got the no decision, his save on Monday and the blanking of Chico State earned him this week’s CCAA Pitcher of the Week award.

Brandon Scott threw the final 2 2/3 innings for the win in the combined shutout with Wheatcroft.

The Warriors will have to continue the hot start this weekend on the road at Sonoma State, where they have had little success in the past. Stan State is 3-34 all-time and 2-23 since 2007 in games played in Rohnert Park.

Stanislaus basketball: The Warriors men’s and women’s basketball teams conclude their 2018-19 home schedules Thursday and Saturday at Fitzpatrick Arena. The men (10-12, 7-11 California Collegiate Athletic Association) and women (7-15, 6-12) face Cal State Los Angeles on Thursday and Cal State Dominguez Hills on Saturday.


Division II West Region Rankings


UC San Diego


Asuza Pacific


Point Loma


Cal Poly Pomona


Cal State Monterey


Stanislaus State


Chico State


Hawaii Pacific


Cal State San Marcos


Montana State-Billings

Editor Brian Clark has worked at The Modesto Bee since 1990. He’s worked in various departments, including sports, news and on the digital side for a decade before being promoted to editor in 2018. He’s a native of Berkeley and a graduate of San Diego State University. Prior to The Bee, Brian worked at the Turlock Journal and Las Vegas Review-Journal.