RENO, Nev. — A grand slam from Andrew Ayers capped a five run third inning and helped the Hornets to a 7-6 win over Nevada on Tuesday at Peccole Park. The win was the third in a row for the Hornets (27-18) and their fifth in the last six games.
Sacramento State trailed 3-2 entering the third inning before Rhys Hoskins provided a one-out single. Nathan Lukes then walked and Chris Lewis singled to right field to load the bases. Following a pitching change and an ejection of Nevada head coach Gary Powers, Justin Higley drew a bases-loaded walk to tie the score. Ayers then hit an 0-1 pitch over the left-center field fence to empty the bases and score the team's final runs of the game.
"Those are the type of hits that we're looking to get with runners in scoring position with those guys up at the plate," Sacramento State head coach Reggie Christiansen said.
Nevada drew closer with single runs in the fourth and seventh. With Sacramento State ahead, 7-5, in the ninth, the team turned to closer Sutter McLoughlin who retired the first two batters he faced. Consecutive walks on 3-2 pitches were followed by a single to left from Brent Jones to draw the Wolf Pack within one. McLouhglin, however, earned his 13th save of the year when Ryan Teel flew out to right field, stranding the tying run on second base.
Sacramento State struck first with a pair of runs in the top of the first. A leadoff double from Hoskins allowed him to later score on a sacrifice fly from Lewis. Higley then hit his 10th home run of the year to right center field.
Nevada's big inning came in the second inning. Brooks Klein hit the first of his two home runs with a two-run shot to right to begin the inning. A hit batter and single up the middle came before Kyle Hunt chopped a ball to first where Hoskins attempted to get the runner at second but instead threw the ball away allowing the lead runner to score.
Hoskins accounted for a third of the team's nine hits, going 3-for-5 and scoring a pair of runs. Higley also had two hits with a home run and triple.
"(Hoskins') swing looked really good today," Christiansen said of his sophomore who hit in the leadoff spot for the second consecutive game. "He's getting closer every day."
Hunter Greenwood lasted four innings before giving way to Tyler Hoelzen. After an inning and two-thirds of work, Hoelzen left with the bases loaded but Brandon Creel worked out of the tight spot. Creel was credited with the win and is now 6-3 on the season.
"We were hoping not to have to go to the bullpen that early but those guys did a nice job," Christiansen explained. "Tyler had a solid first inning and Brandon came in and got out of a bases loaded jam."
Nevada used nine pitchers in the game and the loss was handed to starter Michael Brandshaw (1-1).
Sacramento State returns to Western Athletic Conference play on Friday when it starts a three game series against Seattle.