BASEBALL BETTERED BY LOUISIANA TECH IN FIRST GAME OF WAC SERIES
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — After handing Louisiana Tech’s Luke Burnett a pair of losses in two previous meetings, the Sacramento State baseball team came up short in a 5-2 loss to the Bulldogs on Friday at Hornet Field.
La Tech improved to 27-14 overall and 7-3 in Western Athletic Conference games. Sacramento State fell to 10-24 overall and 5-8 in the WAC.
Burnett scattered five hits and was aided by a pair of double plays to earn his first career win over Sacramento State. The Hornets beat Burnett 10-7 last season and 4-2 earlier this year. Junior Alvaro Orozco, who was making his first start in two weeks, took the loss for Sacramento State after giving up four runs in 4.2 innings.
Orozco showed no signs of rust in the early going. The junior limited the explosive Bulldog lineup to three hits in the first inning but made one mistake to Albie Goulder, who homered to right center in the third inning.
The fourth inning appeared to start well as Orozco forced the WAC’s leading home run hitter Brian Rike to pop-up to short right field. However, Montana Dye lost the ball in the harsh afternoon sun and it fell in front of him for a double. Courtney Jones moved Rike to third with a single to left but was gunned down by Travis Kirkman in a delayed steal attempt for the first out of the inning. Brandon Hudson followed with a fly ball to center field and Rike beat Tim Wheeler’s throw to the plate to make the score, 2-0.
Ryan Blair matched the run for Sacramento State in the bottom of the fourth. Blair led off with a single up the middle and then stole second base. He went on to swipe third and scored on a throwing error by the catcher. Blair’s two steals raised his season total to 13, which places him second in the conference this season.
The Bulldogs were able to manufacture two more runs in the top of the fifth. Matt Combs opened with a single through the left side and a sacrifice attempt by Patrick Thomas resulted in a bunt single to place runners on first and second. A walk to Drew Bunting loaded the bases before Orozco was called for his first balk of the season to score a run. After a walk to Rike, Courtney Jones hit a sac fly to center to score the second run and end the day for Orozco.
Left-hander John Schlager stepped in and was nearly unhittable in his time on the mound. Schlager ended the fifth with a fly out and then did not allow a hit until the eighth inning.
Behind his effort, Sacramento State was able to make the score 4-2 in the sixth inning. Gary Johnson led off with a single and then took second, third and eventually scored on three separate wild pitches.
Schlager finally ran into some trouble in the ninth. Jericho Jones singled past a diving Blake Crosby at short and was moved to second on a sacrifice. Schlager then snagged a comebacker off the bat of Nick Grunewald but his throw pulled Wes Oberlin off the base. Rike loaded the bases after being hit by a pitch and Cyrus Sarraf came on in relief of Schlager.
Courtney Jones singled to right to score one run but Sarraf was able to fight his way out of further trouble.
Schlager threw 3.2 innings and gave up just two hits without an earned run while also striking out four and walking just one.
The Hornets attempted to answer in the ninth behind a double from Tim Wheeler and a walk to Dye. However, Burnett induced a 6-4-3 double play to conclude the game.
Johnson, Blair, Wheeler, Oberlin and Kirkman each collected hits for Sacramento State. Wheeler’s ninth-inning double extended his hitting streak to a career-best tying five games.
The two teams will continue the three-game series on Saturday at 1 p.m.