SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Sophomore Brennan Leitao provided another gem and the Hornets offense jumped to an early lead to spark Sacramento State to a 4-1 victory over San Jose State on Friday at John Smith Field.
The victory gave the Hornets (31-19) their seventh win in the last eight games and their ninth out of the last 11. Sacramento State also improved to 13-9 in Western Athletic Conference games.
Leitao was masterful through his eight innings. The Irvine, Calif., native is now 8-2 overall, including a 7-1 record and 1.55 ERA in WAC games. Leitao only allowed a bloop double and a bunt single through his first seven innings. A leadoff double in the eighth by Sheldon Dacquioag down the left field line was the first solid hit surrendered during the day. Dacquioag eventually scored SJSU's only run as he came home on a single up the middle by Andre Mercurio.
"Its pretty awesome knowing that you can give him the ball and he's going to give you a chance to win every time," Sacramento State head coach Reggie Christiansen said of Leitao. "He was really, really good again today."
Despite throwing just 85 pitches, Leitao was removed after eight innings in place of Sutter McLoughlin. The freshman threw a perfect ninth inning with two ground outs and a foul out to record his 16th save of the season. That total not only adds to his school single season record, it tied him for second on the Sacramento State career list.
"Brennan was not happy that he didn't get a chance to finish the game and that's what you want," Christiansen explained. "But when you have a guy like Sutter back there you're going to bring him in."
The Hornets scored quickly with two runs in the first inning and one in the second to take control of the game. The first inning rally featured four singles, including run-scoring hits by Andrew Ayers and Will Soto. Chris Lewis had a two-out single to drive in Dane Fujinaka in the second.
Neither team scored until the bottom of the sixth where David Del Grande had a one-out triple to right center. During the next at bat, Scotty Burcham chopped a ball to third with Del Grande going on contact. The junior froze between third and home expecting to get in a rundown but the first throw was errant allowing him to score.
Sacramento State tallied 11 hits (10 singles) during the day with Nathan Lukes, Lewis, Soto and Del Grande each having two. Nine of the 10 singles were driven through the infield, including the Hornets' first eight of the game.
"It was nothing we talked about," Christiansen said. "Our guys are swinging better and when we're on time we're going to hit more line drives and ground balls."
David Wayne Russo (4-8) took the loss after giving up 10 hits and three earned runs in seven innings. Mercurio led the Spartan offense with a pair of hits.
Game two of the series will be on Saturday at 1 p.m. Ty Nichols (4-5) will start for Sacramento State against DJ Slaton (3-6).