BASEBALL CONTINUES HOT STREAK WITH WALK-OFF WIN OVER CAL STATE NORTHRIDGE
SACRAMENTO, Calif. – David Del Grande lined a single up the middle for the Hornets' second walk-off win of the season as the Sacramento State baseball team defeated Cal State Northridge, 4-3, in a non-conference game on Friday afternoon at John Smith Field.
The Hornets (8-5) won for the sixth time in seven games after posting four runs on 12 hits with no errors. The Matadors (5-9) scored three runs on seven hits with one error.
Sacramento State reliever RHP Brandon Creel (2-0) picked up his second win of the season after tossing three scoreless innings of one-hit ball with two strikeouts. Starting pitcher Ty Nichols allowed three runs on six hits in six innings. Nichols (53) and Creel (28) combined to throw just 81 pitches in the game.
The Hornets did not issue a walk for the third time in four games. The Hornets had just one game without a walk in 2010, four in 2011 and two last season. Sacramento State pitching has given up one walk in the last 37.2 innings.
Cal State Northridge reliever RHP Josh Goossen-Brown (1-1) took the loss after allowing the game-winning run on two hits in the ninth. The Matadors' poor relief pitching spoiled a solid start by LHP Jerry Keel, who allowed two runs on eight hits in 6.2 innings with six strikeouts and no walks.
The Hornets got on the board first with a two-run second inning. After an out to start the frame, second baseman Andrew Ayers singled up the middle. He moved to second on designated hitter Chris Lewis' single to center. Outfielder Nathan Lukes ground into a fielder's choice that was inches away from becoming a double play. But the break for the Hornets set up two runs. After Lukes advanced to second on a wild pitch, catcher Dane Fujinaka smacked a two-RBI double down the right field line.
Cal State Northridge took the lead with a three-run fourth inning and held on until the eighth. That is when Lukes singled to right with two outs to drive in first baseman Rhys Hoskins from third for the game-tying run.
The Hornets delivered a walk-off win for the second time this season after shortstop Scotty Burcham's squeeze bunt sent the Hornets home with a 4-3 win over UC Riverside on Feb. 23.
Burcham reached on a fielder's choice and moved to third when outfielder Justin Higley crushed a double to the wall in right field. That set up Del Grande, who lined a 1-0 pitch up the middle to score Burcham as the Hornets flooded the field from the third base dugout.
Del Grande, Hoskins, Lukes and Fujinaka each had two hits to pace the Hornets while Fujinaka had a team-high two RBIs. Cal State Northridge center fielder Nate Ring had two hits to lead his team while first baseman Tommy Simis, catcher Alexis Mercado and Ring each had one RBI.
The Hornets and Matadors will be back in action for the second game of the series at 1 p.m. on Saturday before closing it out at noon on Sunday.