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Game One Box Score/Play-by-Play
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WHEELER HITS FOUR HOME RUNS IN DOUBLEHEADER SWEEP OF UTAH VALLEY
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Sacramento State junior Tim Wheeler hit four home runs on the day, as the Hornets baseball team posted 16-6 and 7-1 victories over Utah Valley on Saturday, April 11 at Hornet Field.
With the pair of wins, the Hornets improve to 20-13 overall, while the Wolverines fall to 11-24. Sacramento State came away with a series victory, 3-1, which is the team's fourth series triumph of the season.
Wheeler's incredible offensive day started, appropriately, with his first plate appearance of the day in the bottom of the first of game one, where he sent the first pitch he saw to left for an opposite field solo home run. He went on to hit a two-run blast to right in the fourth inning and a three-run shot to right in the fifth in game one, before ending his home run day with a towering grand slam over both walls in right field in the fifth inning of game two.
Following Wheeler's first home run that gave the Hornets a 1-0 lead in the first contest, however, Utah Valley would take the lead with a run apiece in the second and third innings. Sacramento State was able to rebound, plating 13 runs in the next two innings to put the game out of reach, and eventually cause a run-rule stoppage after seven.
The bottom of the fourth started with a two-run homer for freshman Aaron Crouch, the first of his career, which gave the Hornets a 3-2 lead. Freshman Justin Lamb, a high school teammate of Crouch's at Yuba City HS, followed right behind him with a solo blast to left-center, giving the former Honkers back-to-back home runs to extend the Hornet lead to 4-2. Wheeler then provided his second home run of the day to extend the lead to 6-2.
The runs kept coming in the bottom of the fifth, as Crouch led off with a single, and the Hornets eventually loaded the bases for sophomore Derrick Chung, who scored two runners with a double to the right center field gap, extending the lead to 8-2. Wheeler then cleared the bases with his third home run of the game, a three-run shot, giving the Hornets a 11-2 advantage. Senior Blake Crosby was then hit by a pitch, and following a foul-out, junior Josh Powers doubled to center, putting runners on the corners for Lamb. Lamb hit a check swing cue shot down the line that escaped the diving effort of Wolverine pitcher Travis Ayoso for a RBI infield single. Sophomore Brent Hottman stepped up for the final blow of the inning, a two-run double down the left field line that plated the seventh and eighth runs of the inning, and gave Sacramento State a 14-2 lead.
Utah Valley extended the game with a run in the top of the sixth and three more in the top of the seventh, pulling to within 14-6, but Sacramento State was able to complete the run-ruling in the bottom of the seventh with a leadoff solo homer by senior Jeff Roth and a walkoff RBI single by senior Hunter Martinez that gave the Hornets the run-rule shortened 16-6 seven inning win.
Sophomore Brandon Sandoval (4-3) picked up the victory, allowing six runs, five earned, on 12 hits in six innings of work. Freshman Brent Harrison came on the top of the seventh in relief of Sandoval and pitched arguably his best inning as a Hornet, getting out of a first-and-third nobody out jam by retiring all three batters he faced in order. Devin Nelson (0-3) picked up the loss for the Wolverines, allowing five runs on six hits in three innings pitched.
Game two was highlighted by an outstanding pitching performance from Hornet junior starter Tommy Elrod, who allowed just one run in 8.1 innings pitched while striking out a career-high eight batters.
The Hornets gave Elrod all of the run support he would need in the bottom of the first, as Martinez led off the inning with a solo home run, and following a double by Chung, Roth provided a RBI single to give the Hornets a 2-0 advantage.
The score remained at 2-0 until the bottom of the fifth, when Utah Valley starter Jory Jensen got into some trouble, allowing a pair of singles and a walk to load the bases with no one out for Wheeler. The Sacramento native delivered with his 12th home run and second grand slam of the season, extending the Hornet lead to 6-0. Crosby followed with a single, and was driven home on a RBI double by Powers which gave Sacramento State a 7-0 lead.
Elrod came out to start the top of the ninth with the shutout entact, hoping to throw his second complete game of the season, but Billy Burgess, hit a leadoff single, advanced to second on a wild pitch, moved to third tagging up on a fly ball to right, and scored on a RBI single by Dick Bargewell, making the score 7-1. Elrod left to a standing ovation, giving way to sophomore reliever Trevor Paine, who got the final two outs in just his second appearance of the season following offseason surgery, preserving the 7-1 victory.
Elrod (4-1) scattered 10 hits over his 8.1 innings pitched, walking just one batter and stranding seven Wolverine baserunners with timely outs. Jensen (2-3) allowed 10 hits as well, but in just four innings, allowing seven runs, all of which were earned. Brian Whatcott and Brock Sargent provided the Wolverines with four innings of shutout baseball out of the 'pen.
Wheeler finished the day 4-for-8 with four home runs and 10 RBI, as he passed Gabe Jacobo for third place in the Hornets career record book for career RBI. He was not the only Hornet to impress offensively, however, as Powers finished 5-for-8 with four doubles, and Lamb went 5-for-9 with a double and a home run. Six different Hornets provided two RBI apiece, with every Hornet starter scoring at least one run. Crosby continued his team-high hitting streak with a 4-for-8 mark on the day, giving him 17 straight games with at least one hit.
Sacramento State will face San Francisco in a mid-week affair on Tuesday at 2:30 p.m. at Hornet Field, before traveling to Hawai'i to take on the No. 23 ranked Rainbows in a four-game Western Athletic Conference series next Friday-Sunday.
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