SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Starting pitcher Ty Nichols give up just four hits in 7.1 scoreless innings and the Sacramento State baseball team won its third straight game, 1-0, over Utah Valley in the opening game of a three-game non-conference series at John Smith Field.
The Hornets (5-4) tallied one run on three hits with no errors while the Wolverines (4-6) were held scoreless on five hits with no errors.
Nichols, a sophomore from Gridley, Calif., shine early as the right-hander struck out five batters through the first three innings, all swinging. His only real jam of the game was in the fourth, when the Wolverines put runners at first and second with one out. But Nichols forced Utah Valley DH Colby Croft into a double play grounder to third to end the inning.
After the Hornets' defense kept the Wolverines off the board in the fourth, the offense put Sacramento State ahead in the bottom of the frame.
After 2B Andrew Ayers reached on a fielder's choice, the senior moved to second after 3B Will Soto drew a four-pitch walk. In the next at-bat, 1B Rhys Hoskins smacked the first pitch he saw through the left side of the Utah Valley infield to bring home Ayers from second and plate the game's first and only run.
Nichols retired the side in order in four of his seven complete innings. In the eighth, he allowed a hit and a walk to put runners on first and second with one out once again. But Sacramento State head coach Reggie Christiansen brought on reliever RHP Sutter McLoughlin and the big freshman struck out Utah Valley OF Jordy Hart swinging on four pitches for the second out. McLoughlin then forced 2B Willie Pratt to pop out to Sacramento State C Dane Fujinaka to end the inning.
McLoughlin remained on the mound for the ninth inning and the Rio Americano HS graduate shut the door for his second career save. Nichols (1-1) got the win in his second start of the season while Utah Valley starter Adam Gunn (1-2) took the loss despite a strong percentage in a complete game. Gunn allowed just one run on three hits in eight innings with two strikeouts and three walks.
Nichols and McLoughlin combined for the Hornets' first shutout of the season. Sacramento State posted four shutouts last season, two solo and two combined.
Sacramento State and Utah Valley will meet for the second game of the series at 1 p.m. on Saturday and finish it at noon on Sunday.
While the series with the Wolverines is non-conference this season, that will change next year as Utah Valley has accepted a bid to join the Western Athletic Conference. Sacramento State baseball and gymnastics both compete in the WAC.