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BASEBALL PRESERVES 8-7 VICTORY IN THE NINTH ON ROBBED HOME RUN
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Junior Justin Mezzaneras went 2-for-3 with three RBI, and preserved Sacramento State's 8-7 victory over Louisiana Tech in the top of the ninth by climbing over the fence to rob a two-out game tying home run off the bat of the Bulldogs' Devon Dageford, in a game played on April 24 at Hornet Field.
With the victory, the Hornets improve to 22-17 overall, 3-6 inside of the Western Athletic Conference, while the Bulldogs fall to 20-17, 5-8 in WAC play.
Both teams scored early and often, with the clubs combining for 10 runs over the first three innings of play. Louisiana Tech opened in the scoring in the top of the first, plating two runs on a RBI single by Dageford and a sacrifice fly by Chris Kersten. The Hornets got a run back in the bottom half of the innings, as senior Jeff Roth walked to lead off, junior Tim Wheeler advanced him to third on a double and senior Blake Crosby scored him on a sacrifice fly to right field.
After Louisiana Tech scored another run in the top of the second to make the score 3-1 on a RBI single by Patrick Thomas, the Hornets fought back to tie it at 3-3 in the bottom of the inning. With the bases loaded, senior Hunter Martinez connected on a RBI single, and following a strike out, Wheeler provided a RBI walk.
The Bulldogs scored for the third straight time in the top of the third on a RBI double by Alex Williams, allowing them to stake claim once again to the lead at 4-3. But the Hornets would take the advantage for good in the bottom of the inning, scoring three runs. Junior Josh Powers opened the inning with a bloop single to center, and was driven in immediately on a hard shot to left center field by sophomore Derrick Chung that went for a RBI double. After sophomore Brent Hottman was hit by a pitch, and Chung and Hottman moved up a base apiece on a wild pitch, Mezzaneras stepped to the plate and uncorked a double down the left field line, scoring both runners to give Sacramento State a 6-4 advantage.
With the score closed to 6-5 in the bottom of the sixth, the Hornets added a pair of insurance runs to take an 8-5 edge. With runners on first and second and one out, Brent Hottman hit a roller to third that was corralled by third baseman Mark Threlkeld, who hesitated before throwing to second. The runner sliding into second base, freshman Justin Lamb, beat the throw, which was then dropped by Bulldog second baseman Kevin Winn, allowing Powers to score from third. After Lamb advanced to third, Mezzaneras drove him home on a sacrifice fly to deep left, pushing the Hornet lead to three runs.
The power hitting Bulldogs weren't out of the contest yet, as they plated two runs in the top of the seventh on a pair of towering solo home runs off the bats of Dageford and Williams, closing the Hornet lead to 8-7. Roth, the Hornets closer, moved from right field to the pitchers mound for the final two innings, and retired the first five batters he faced without allowing a hit. That set the stage for Dageford, who took a 2-1 pitch the opposite way to deep right field. Mezzaneras, who was playing near the wall to protect against an extra base hit, gathered himself, leaped and brought the ball back from over the fence to end the game.
Sophomore Brandon Sandoval (5-4) picked up the win while working through a bit of wildness that saw him walk a season high five batters. Sandoval allowed five runs on six hits, while striking out six in 5.2 innings. Sandoval settled down after a rocky start, and went on to strike out the side in the top of the fourth. Jamey Bradshaw (0-4) picked up the loss for Louisiana Tech, allowing six runs on six hits in 2.1 innings of work. Roth picked up his fifth save of the season, throwing two innings of hitless relief to finish the contest.
Besides Mezzaneras, both Powers and Wheeler added two hits for the Hornets, with Wheeler going 2-for-2 with three walks and a RBI. Roth went 0-for-4 at the plate, seeing his career-high hitting streak end at 12 game, while Hottman tied a school record by being hit by three pitches during the game, which occured in his first three plate appearances of the contest. He joins fellow catcher Travis Kirkman, Buddy Morales (who accomplished the feat twice during the 2006 season), Bobby Ciani and Aurelio Jackson in a tie for first place in the record book.
The two teams will be back in action tomorrow, with game two of the series scheduled for 1 p.m. at Hornet Field.
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