SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Junior Ty Nichols and the Hornet bullpen allowed just six hits and one walk and sophomore Chris Lewis drove in a pair of runs in the first inning to lead Sacramento State to a season-opening 3-2 win over Utah.
"Its nice to start the season like this going against a Pac-12 opponent," Sacramento State head coach Reggie Christiansen said. "You feel good about the preparation we've had the last five weeks. The goal is to win every series, and winning Friday certainly gives you a better opportunity to do so."
Nichols went six innings, allowing just two runs on five hits with five strikeouts and no walks. Relievers Dallas Chadwick, Alex Palsha, and Sutter McLoughlin combined to allow just two base runners over the final three innings, with McLoughlin striking out a pair in the ninth for his 18th career save.
The Hornets jumped on the Utes and ace Mitch Watrous early as the home team loaded the bases with nobody out in the first inning. Lewis, hitting cleanup, laced a single to left to drive home Nathan Lukes and Clay Cederquist and put the Hornets up 2-0 before Utah recorded an out.
The Utes got out of the inning without further damage and got a run back in the third inning on an RBI single by sophomore second baseman Cody Davis following a two-out double by right fielder Josh Rose. Sacramento State got that run back in the fourth as junior shortstop Scotty Burcham opened the inning with a double and was driven home by Lukes.
Rose brought Utah back within a run in the top of the fifth with a one out RBI single. Neither team would pose much of a scoring threat again until the home half of the seventh.
The Hornets opened the inning with a walk and a bunt single, and with one away junior first baseman Rhys Hoskins came to the plate. He hit into a fielders choice and beat out the throw to first, but Utah was able to gun down Hornet catcher Dane Fujinaka at the plate to end the inning.
Palsha threw a perfect eighth inning and McLoughlin struck out the first two batters in the ninth. After a two out walk McLoughlin was able to induce a fielders choice groundout to finish off the Hornet victory.
Lukes reached base three times out of the leadoff spot, going 2-for-3 with a walk, and RBI, and a run scored. Lewis finished 2-for-4 while Rose was the only Utah player with a multi-hit game with a 2-for-3 line hitting ninth.
Sacramento State will send junior Brennan Leitao on Saturday and will be opposed by Utah senior Tanner Banks. Game time is 2 p.m.