Sandoval homers twice to lead Baseball past Sterling 8-2

Josh Sandoval (SR/Glendale, Ariz.) supplied the offense and Tyler Triano (SO/Hollister, Calif.) and Ethan Wilson (JR/Thackerville, Okla.) were dominant on the mound as Kansas Wesleyan’s baseball team continued its recent surge.

Sandoval belted two home runs and drove in six while Triano and Wilson limited Sterling to seven hits in an 8-2 Kansas Conference victory Tuesday afternoon at Dean Evans Stadium.

It was the fifth win in six games for the Coyotes, who improved to 15-10 overall and 8-4 in the conference. Sterling fell to 14-11 and 6-6.

Sandoval displayed his power early on.

Sterling took a 1-0 lead with an unearned run in the top of the first inning but Sandoval, the team’s designated hitter, gave Triano all the support he needed in the bottom half of the inning. William Dryburgh (SO/St. Joseph, Mo.) led off with a walk, Haydn Brown (SR/Gardnerville, Nev.) was hit by a pitch and Austin Cross (JR/Montgomery, Texas) singled to load the bases. After Trey Lopez (SR/Burlington, Wash.) lined out to shortstop Sandoval hit a Quinton Gago fastball high over the center field fence, giving KWU a quick 4-1 lead.

Sandoval was just getting started. Lopez singled with one out in the third and Sandoval followed with another home run off a Gago changeup that sailed over the fence in right center field and made it 6-1. It was his fifth homer of the season.

“It felt great, I just was waiting on the ball and seeing it very well today,” said Sandoval, who also plays catcher. “I was able to just lay back on them and just drive them.”

KWU coach Bill Neale said he had a feeling Sandoval might have a big day.

“Those were two big shots and were the difference in the ballgame,” he said. “I thought he’d have a good day today just because the wind was pushing balls to the right-center gap and that’s his approach on any pitch. That first one he hit to center was quite a shot.”

KWU upped the lead to 7-1 in the fourth when Brown doubled home Dryburgh, and the Coyotes added an unearned run in the eighth when pinch runner Tyler Latham (JR/Wichita Falls, Texas) scored from third on an error on the catcher on Sisipako Vehikite (JR/Santa Clara, Calif.)’s fielder’s choice ground ball.

Wesleyan had 10 total hits – Sandoval, Lopez, Cross and Whitaker with two apiece.

“We’re starting to get it going, we’re starting to piece it together and find our groove and hopefully can keep getting big games like this,” Sandoval said.

Triano (2-1) was masterful for the second consecutive Tuesday. He limited Sterling to two runs on six hits, struck out eight, walked one and hit a batter in 7.2 innings. Wilson allowed one hit and walked two over the final 1.1 innings.

Neale said Triano’s changeup kept Sterling’s hitter off balance.

“He was locating his fastball, he always locates it down (in the strike zone) but we saw a lot more changeups today,” he said. “It got to a point where we were kind of laughing in the dugout because it felt like he was going fastball, fastball, changeup, get ’em out.

“If he can control that and command that the way he did today he’s going to be really tough to beat. Not a lot of college pitchers still throw really good changeups and he’s got a plus-one. He has good speed differential and he’s got movement down.”

KWU plays Avila in a three-game conference series Friday and Saturday in Kansas City, Mo. They’ll play a nine-inning game Friday starting at 2:30 p.m. and a doubleheader Saturday starting at 1 p.m.