SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Sacramento State redshirt freshman Ryan Locke delivered a pinch hit, bases loaded two-run double in the eighth inning to break a 2-2 deadlock and spur the Hornets to a 4-2 win over Pacific on Tuesday night at Raley Field.
Locke is now 4-for-4 as a pinch hitter this season and helped Sacramento State (9-11) improve to 4-0 on the year in midweek games, including a 3-0 record at Raley Field. Pacific (10-13) allowed a pair of two-run doubles in the game, with Hornet junior Rhys Hoskins also driving in two runs on a ground rule double in the third inning.
"(Locke) has been special in that spot," head coach Reggie Christiansen said. "It's almost like how Sutter McLoughlin is late in the game; we can count on him to get it done in the clutch. Everybody in the dugout knew he would get it done, it's pretty special."
McLoughlin also delivered in the clutch on Tuesday, setting down the Tigers in order on just 11 pitches for his WAC-leading sixth save of the year while extending to 14.0 innings pitched this season without allowing a run. Redshirt freshman Justin Dillon, who is coming back from Tommy John surgery, made his first career start in a planned one-inning outing, needing just nine pitches in a perfect first inning.
Pacific freshman Stuart Bradley was also making his first career start and put up two scoreless innings before running into trouble in the third. Freshman Brandon Hunley opened the inning with a double and a one-out single by David Del Grande put men on second and third with one away. Bradley induced a lineout for the second out, but Hoskins then drilled a double to left that hit the warning track and bounced over the wall to score two runs.
Junior Ty Nichols relieved Dillon in the second inning and was fantastic over five shutout innings before Pacific staged a rally in the seventh. A leadoff walk followed by a stolen base put a man on second for catcher JP Yankel, who drove in the run with a single to right and advanced to second on a Hornet fielding error. Yankel advanced to third on a wild pitch and with one away scored the tying run on a sacrifice fly from first baseman Erik Lockwood.
The game remained tied to the bottom of the eighth, which began with a single by left fielder Chris Lewis that was followed by a Del Grande hit-by-pitch. Nathan Lukes moved the runners to second and third with a sacrifice bunt and the Tigers elected to intentionally walk Hoskins. The Locke substitution prompted Pacific to bring in right handed reliever Jake Jenkins, but Locke greeted him with his drive to left that brought in the winning run.
Junior Alex Palsha earned the win in relief, pitching a scoreless top of the eighth, while Pacific lefty Kyle Crawford was tagged for the loss after allowing the runners to reach base before coming out in the bottom of the eighth. No player from either team had more than one hit in the game while the Hornets left six on base and the Tigers stranded three.
Sacramento State opens WAC play this weekend with a home series against Northern Colorado. Game times at John Smith Field will be 3 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. Saturday, and 1 p.m. Sunday.