By MICHAEL COIT
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Surging to snag the conference baseball crown gives Sonoma State the top seed in what should be a very challenging CCAA tournament.

Sonoma State opens the double elimination play Thursday against Cal Poly Pomona. Chico State and UC San Diego are matched in the other opener in Stockton.

The tournament runs through Saturday with a deciding game Sunday, if needed, at Banner Island Ballpark, home of the Stockton Ports, an Oakland A’s minor league ball club.

Winning seven of their last nine, Sonoma State took the California Collegiate Athletic Association title ahead of nationally ranked rivals. Chico is 6th, San Diego 15th, and Pomona 19th in the NCAA poll. The Seawolves were picked to finish third in the always difficult conference in a preseason poll of the league’s coaches.

In recent seasons Sonoma State has played its way into the NCAA Division II national tournament. Sonoma State reached the West Regionals five of the past seven years, winning in 2008 and 2011 and advancing to the college world series.

Pitching was the prime question mark coming into the season, yet have been a Sonoma State strength. The Seawolves have the conference’s second lowest earned run average.

Anchoring the staff are top starters, seniors George Asmus and Jon Richards. Asmus, from Pleasanton, leads the conference with a 1.06 in earned run average, going 6-1 with two complete games. Richards, from Oceanside, is 5-2 with a pair of complete games. Cody Lane, a junior from Angels Camp, is among conference save leaders and was the CCAA pitcher of the week.

With the bats Sonoma State has been consistently efficient in scoring runs. Sonoma State’s team batting average is in the middle of the pack. But the Seawolves are among team leaders in getting on base and scoring runs.

A catalyst has been Jourdan Weiks. The junior infielder from Olympia, Wash., is hitting .328 and is tied for fourth in the conference with 13 stolen bases.

Leading the Seawolves in runs batted in is Jackson Stogner. The senior second baseman from Analy also has a .418 on-base-percentage. Eric Ehlow, a junior catcher from Laguna Nigel, hits .325 and is second in runs batted in on the season.