RIVERSIDE, Calif. – UC Riverside senior righthander Zach Varela threw a complete game, allowing just one unearned run, and the Highlanders used six stolen bases to spearhead a 6-1 win over Sacramento State on Sunday in Riverside.
Sacramento State (7-9) went winless in three games over the weekend in Riverside (two vs. UC Riverside and one vs. West Virginia) and was outscored 23-3, scoring just one run in each game. The Hornets did have seven hits and a walk on Sunday but stranded eight runners on base.
UC Riverside (8-7) jumped on Hornet freshman starter Jared Paderez early with back-to-back singles to lead off the home half of the first inning, with both runners eventually coming around to score and give UCR a 2-0 lead.
In the top of the third, Sacramento State junior Scotty Burcham reached on an error that was followed by singles from senior David Del Grande and sophomore Nathan Lukes to load the bases with nobody out. Freshman Brandon Hunley drove home Burcham with a sacrifice fly, but an ensuing lineout and fly out limited the Hornet damage to just the one run.
The Highlanders came right back in the bottom of the third with three hits and an RBI fielder's choice groundout scoring two runs and a solo homerun from junior Nick Vilter giving the home team a 5-1 lead. UC Riverside added a run in the sixth off Hornet freshman Sam Long, who was making his first relief appearance of the season and allowed two walks and two stolen bases with Vilter driving home the sixth UCR run with a sacrifice fly.
A walk from sophomore Dane Fujinaka and singles by Del Grande and Lukes loaded the bases for the Hornets with two out in the seventh inning but Varela got Hunley to ground out in what proved to be the last scoring threat the Hornets would pose.
Varela threw 97 pitches for the complete game, striking out three. Paderez was tagged with five earned runs off eight hits in 2.2 innings pitched but the Hornet relievers were strong, combining to allow just one run and one hit with five strikeouts over 5.1 innings of relief. Hornet closer Sutter McLoughlin got some work in pitching the bottom of the eighth and continued to dominate, setting down the Highlanders in order on just seven pitches, including a strikeout.
Del Grande and Lukes each finished 2-for-4 at the plate and Hunley was 1-for-3 with the sacrifice fly. Vilter was 2-for-3 with the homer and three RBIs while the first three hitters in the UC Riverside lineup combined to hit 6-for-10 with five runs scored, two RBIs, two walks, and four stolen bases.
Sacramento State plays its next nine games at home over two and a half weeks, starting with a three-game set with Big 10 school Minnesota next Friday-Sunday at John Smith Field.