MORAGA, Calif. — Five Sacramento State relievers combined to allow just one earned run in 8.1 innings of work and the Hornets were able to overcome a 6-2 deficit en route to a 9-7 win on Tuesday at Saint Mary's.
Sacramento State score the final six runs of the game to earn its second win over the Gaels in the last eight days and improve to 12-8 overall. Saint Mary's dropped to 6-15.
The Hornets struck first behind a two-run home run from Andrew Ayers in the top of the first inning. That lead, however, did not last through the first inning as SMC was able to plate six runs with just two hits but took advantage of three walks and four hit batters in the inning.
After Sacramento State put a run on the board in the second inning on a double by Will Soto, the Gaels scored their final run in the fifth. That run was the lone mark against the Hornet bullpen. Garrett Kraemer began the streak by coming on for the final out of the first inning before giving way to Tanner Mendonca in the fourth inning. Ty Nichols pitched the sixth inning, Brennan Leitao the seventh and freshman Sutter McLoughlin closed out the final two innings for his fourth save of the year.
Nichols (3-1) was credited with the victory after the Hornets plated three runs in the sixth and two in the top of the seventh. In the sixth, Chris Lewis reached on an error by the shortstop which allowed him to get to second. Justin Higley followed with a single to left to score Lewis and took second on the throw. Nathan Lukes singled to place Higley on third before Scotty Burcham had an RBI groundout. The final run of the inning came on a balk which allowed Lukes to cross the plate.
The Hornets retook the lead in the seventh with pair of two-out doubles. The first came from Lewis which scored Rhys Hoskins while Higley provided the second down the right-field line. The final Sacramento State run also came with two outs in the eighth inning when Ayers was hit with the bases loaded.
McLoughlin dodged trouble in both of his innings of work to secure the win. The freshman got out of a bases-loaded one-out jam in the eighth with a fly out to left and striking out Colin Ferguson looking. In the ninth, the first three Gaels all singled to load the bases. The first out of the inning came on a fielder's choice to Hoskins who threw home to gun down the lead runner. McLoughlin then recorded fly outs to center and left to end the game.
Soto and Higley each had two hits to lead the Hornets. Lewis' double extended his hit streak to 11 games while David Del Grande reached base for the 16th-straight contest.
Sacramento State will begin Western Athletic Conference play with a three-game series against CSU Bakersfield on Friday. The first game will get under way at 3 p.m.