BASEBALL RALLIES BUT FALLS IN SEASON OPENER TO ARIZONA, 5-3
TUCSON, Ariz. - The Sacramento State baseball team came back from an early 5-0 deficit before falling to the Arizona Wildcats, 5-3, in their season opener on Friday, Feb. 20.
The Wildcats opened the scoring in the bottom of the third inning, taking advantage of a pair of Hornet miscues in the inning to post five unearned runs. After leading off the inning with a walk, Wildcat shortstop Bryce Ortega stole second, and with one out, scored on a error by Hornet senior first baseman Hunter Martinez. Then, with two down, Bobby Coyle hit a RBI triple down the right field line, giving the Wildcats a 2-0 lead. Ryan Selsky followed with a RBI single, which brought up Dillon Baird.
Baird lined a shot off of the back of Hornet senior lefthander Jose Ramirez, who was forced to leave the game, giving the Wildcats runners on second and third with two. Sophomore righthander Brandon Sandoval came on in relief, and he too was hit with a comebacker off the bet of Matt Presley. Sophomore shortstop Derrick Chung attempted to throw Presley out off of the deflection, but his throw went wide of the bag, scoring both runners on base, to give Arizona a 5-0 lead.
The Hornets would cut into the lead in the top of the fifth, as Chung was able to make up for his miscue with a RBI single, scoring junior second baseman Josh Powers, to cut the Wildcat lead to four runs at 5-1. The score would move to 5-2 in the seventh, as Martinez stroked a one-out double, advanced to third on a wild pitch, and scored on a RBI groundout by Chung.
With one last chance in the top of the ninth, senior Jeff Roth led off the inning with a single, and advanced to second on a one out bunt single by Martinez. With runners on first and second and two outs, junior Tim Wheeler stepped to the plate, and following a passed ball that moved the runners up a base apiece, pushed a RBI single into left field. Freshman Justin Lamb then stepped to the plate representing the tying run, but he struck out looking to close out the contest.
The Hornets were able to keep the game close thanks to the relief effort of Sandoval, who threw 4.1 innings of scoreless baseball, allowing just three hits while striking out four. Roth moved from left field to the pitchers mound to throw a scoreless eighth inning, retiring the side in order while striking out two batters.
Ramirez (0-1) was the hard luck loser for the Hornets, allowing five runs, none of which were earned, in 2.2 innings before leaving. Kyle Simon (1-0) picked up the win, allowing one run on three hits in 2.2 innings out of the Wildcats pen. Preseason first team All-American closer Jason Stoffel picked up his first save, despite allowing a run on three hits in the top of the ninth.
Chung lead the Hornets with two RBI while going 2-for-5 at the plate, while Martinez went 3-for-5 from the leadoff spot in the Hornets lineup. Eight of the Hornets nine offensive starters collected hits in the game, with the Hornets besting the Wildcats in the hit department by a margin of 11 to 8. Baird and Presley went 2-for-4 each to lead the Wildcat charge.
The two teams will be back in action on Saturday, Feb. 21 at 6 p.m. (MT). In a matchup of two pitchers making their Division I debuts, the Hornets will throw freshman righthander Jesse Darrah, while the Wildcats will counter with junior college transfer Matt Veltmann.