WHEELER HITS THREE HOME RUNS, DRIVES IN EIGHT, AS BASEBALL CRUISES TO 14-2 VICTORY OVER SAINT MARY'S
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Junior Tim Wheeler hit home runs in three straight at bats, a grand slam in the fourth, a three-run homer in the fifth and a solo shot in the seventh, to give Sacramento State a 14-2 victory over Saint Mary's on Sunday, March 8 at Hornet Field.
With the win, the Hornets improve to 2-7 on the season, while the Gaels fall to 9-3.
Sacramento State opened the scoring in the bottom of the first, as senior Hunter Martinez led off the inning with a single, advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by senior Blake Crosby, and scored on a RBI single by freshman Justin Lamb.
The Gaels got the run back in the top of the second, as with the bases loaded and nobody out, Hornet sophomore Brandon Sandoval induced a 6-4-3 double play that scored a run, tying the game at 1-1. The Hornets retook the lead right back in the bottom half of the inning, as junior Josh Powers hit a one-out double down the left field line, and was brought home on a RBI single by sophomore Brent Hottman to give the Hornets a 2-1 lead. With two down and Hottman on second, Martinez doubled to deep left field, scoring Hottman to make the score 3-1.
With a runner on third and two outs in the bottom of the fourth, Martinez drew a full count walk, and Crosby was hit by a pitch, loading the bases for Wheeler, who hit a towering shot to right center for his second career grand slam and first home run of the season. Not to be outdone, Lamb followed with a solo home run to left field, his second of the season, giving the Hornets a commanding 8-1 advantage.
The Hornets posted another five run inning in the fifth, as Powers was hit by a pitch with one out, and Hottman followed with a double that advanced Powers to third, bringing up sophomore Derrick Chung. Chung, who entered the game as the team's leader in RBI, singled to center, plating Powers, to make the score 9-1. Martinez then laid down a bunt single to the right side of the infield, which scored a run and gave the Hornets two baserunners. Following a Crosby groundout, Wheeler stepped to the plate again. On a 2-0 pitch from reliever Tony Selden, who had given up the grand slam one inning prior, Wheeler again laced a ball to deep right center field, over the 370 sign for a three-run homer, giving Sacramento State a 13-1 advantage.
The lead grew to 14-1 in the bottom of the seventh, as with two out, Wheeler hit a lazer shot down the right field line off of reliever Mark Anderson, marking his third home run of the day, each of which came with two down in the inning.
The Gaels added a run in the top of the eighth off of Hornet senior reliever Nick Buchta, who allowed just the one run on five hits while striking out five, pitching three innings to earn the save.
Sandoval (1-1) picked up his first career win, allowing just one run on three hits in six strong innings, striking out five Gaels. Taylor Reid (1-2) picked up the loss for Saint Mary's, allowing five runs on six hits without striking out a batter. Buchta's save was his first of the season and second of his career, with both of them coming in three-inning outings.
On the day, Wheeler finished 3-for-4 with three home runs and eight RBI to lead the Hornets offensively. Wheeler became just the fourth Hornet to record three home runs in a game in the Division I era, and his RBI total ties for the second most in a single game in school history. Lamb and Martinez each recorded three hits and a pair of RBI, while Powers and Hottman each went 2-for-3 with multiple runs scored.
Saint Mary's was led offensively by Anthony Aliotti and Timothy David, who each recorded two hits. The Gaels played a total of 19 position players in the contest, with each starter eventually replaced by a pinch hitter or defensive substitute.
The two teams will close out the four-game series on Tuesday, March 10 at Hornet Field. First pitch is scheduled for 2 p.m., and neither team has posted a probable starter.