SACRAMENTO, Calif. – UC Riverside starting pitcher Dylan Stuart allowed just one run on seven hits in a complete game and the Sacramento State baseball team lost, 2-1, to the Highlanders in its 2013 home opener on Friday afternoon at John Smith Field.
The Hornets (1-3) tallied one run on seven hits with no errors while the Highlanders (2-3) posted two runs on six hits and no errors.
Both Stuart and Sacramento State starting pitcher Tanner Mendonca were strong, but Stuart came out on top. Stuart (1-1) earned the win after forcing the Hornets into 20 three-pitch or fewer at-bats, while Mendonca (0-2) suffered his second loss after allowing just two runs on five hits over eight innings with four walks and six strikeouts. Mendonca suffered a similar fate last season against the Highlanders, as he was hit with a loss after giving up only one run on six hits in eight innings with 10 strikeouts and one walk.
UC Riverside was able to get to Mendonca early, before the junior right-hander settled in during the later frames.
The Highlanders scored a run in the first inning after shortstop Eddie Young drew a walk, stole second and then scored on first baseman Clayton Prestridge's RBI single to left.
UC Riverside tacked on the eventual game-winning run in the third on just one hit. Second baseman Nick Vilter was hit by a pitch to open the inning and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt. Vilter scored on a double by Young to right center.
Later in the third inning, four players were ejected following a fight. Sacramento State second baseman Andrew Ayers plus UC Riverside's Young, catcher Drake Zarate and relief pitcher Zach Varela were all removed. By NCAA rule, a four-game suspension follows a player's first ejection for fighting during the season. A second ejection for fighting results in a five-game suspension while a season-ban follows a third.
Sacramento State pushed across its lone run of the game in the seventh. Outfielder Justin Higley led off the inning with a double to deep left center, the Hornets' only leadoff batter to get on base in any inning. Higley moved to third on catcher Dane Fujinaka's second hit of the game and scored on Scotty Burcham's sacrifice fly to right.
Fujinaka led the Hornets with two hits, the first two of the redshirt freshman's career. Prestridge and catcher Bart Steponvich, who came on for Zarate in the third, also finished with a team-high two hits each for the Highlanders.
Brandon Creel came on in relief for the Hornets in the top of the ninth and allowed no runs and just one hit.
Sacramento State and UC Riverside will continue their four-game series on Saturday with a doubleheader starting at 11 a.m. Brennan Leitao, fresh off a win at Texas last weekend, will start for the Hornets in the first game while Ty Nichols will be on the bump to begin the second game.
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