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February 23, 2013

BASEBALL SPLITS DOUBLEHEADER WITH HIGHLANDERS

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - The Sacramento State baseball team split a doubleheader with UC Riverside on Saturday afternoon at John Smith Field. The Hornets won the first game, 4-3, on Scotty Burcham's walk-off squeeze bunt but fell, 7-6, in the second game.


The Hornets (2-4) scored two runs in the ninth inning of the second game but fell just short of capturing their second walk-off win of the day against the Highlanders (3-4).

Chris Lewis and David Del Grande each went 4-for-8 over two games in the doubleheader while freshman Nathan Lukes was 4-for-9. Burcham had three RBIs, including his game-winner in the first game.

Sacramento State left 14 men on base in the first game of Saturday's doubleheader but delivered when it mattered, as Burcham's walk-off squeeze bunt drove in Will Soto from third to defeat UC Riverside, 4-3.

With the game tied at 3-3, the Hornets had the bases loaded in the seventh and failed to score. They also had two men on with two outs in the eighth and couldn't push a run across. That changed in the ninth. Once again the Hornets had the bases loaded, this time with one out. UC Riverside brought on reliever Trevor Frank to face Burcham but the Sacramento State shortstop laid down a bunt on the first pitch he saw as Soto came crashing home. UC Riverside first baseman Clayton Prestridge fielded the bunt cleanly but was Soto was nearly home already. Prestridge tried to flip the ball out of his glove to the catcher, but the toss sailed wide and Soto was safe for the game-winning run.

Sacramento State took an early lead with two runs in the second inning on three hits and a UC Riverside error. Even though the Hornets tacked on another run in the fourth, the Highlanders tied it up with single runs in the third, sixth and seventh innings.

The Hornets posted 14 hits in the first game on Saturday, led by Lukes' 3-for-4 performance. Burcham had a game-high two RBIs.

Sacramento State senior reliever Brandon Creel (1-0) picked up the win after tossing two scoreless innings with just one hit and one walk allowed. UC Riverside reliever Mark Garcia (0-1) took the loss after loading the bases in the ninth. Brennan Leitao, who started on the mound for the Hornets, allowed a run in the third, after a hit by pitch, wild pitch and RBI ground out, but took a no-hitter into the sixth inning before Prestridge doubled down the left field line.

UC Riverside made two errors in the ninth inning and nearly let the Hornets back into the game, but the Highlanders escaped with a 7-6 win in the second game of the doubleheader.

UC Riverside built a 6-2 lead with a single run in the second, three in the third and two more runs in the sixth inning but the Hornets made it interesting late.

Sacramento State scored twice in the eighth inning on Kyle Moses' RBI triple and Burcham's RBI ground out. The Hornets led off the ninth with back-to-back singles but a double play put the Hornets down to their final out. Burcham hit a short pop fly to second that looked like the end of the game, but UC Riverside's Nick Vilter couldn't come up with the catch, allowing Del Grande to score from third. Lukes followed with a single and Burcham was able to go all the way from first to third due to another fielding error, this time on right fielder Joe Chavez, who started the game at third base. Lewis singled up the middle to bring home Burcham and Lukes advanced to second, putting the tying run in scoring position. But Will Soto flied out to center in the next at-bat to cut the rally short.

UC Riverside starting pitcher Ben Doucette (1-1) earned the win after giving up four runs (three earned) on five hits over seven innings with five strikeouts and no walks. The loss was suffered by Sacramento State starting pitcher Ty Nichols (0-1) after the sophomore allowed four runs (three earned) on five hits in four innings with four strikeouts and no walks.

There were seven total errors in the game, with two on the Hornets and five for UC Riverside. Sacramento State entered the game with just one error through the first five games of the season.

The Hornets will look to salvage a split in the four-game series with a win in the final game on Sunday at noon.

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