PHOENIX, Ariz. – Sophomore Nathan Lukes drove in the go ahead run in the top of the 10th inning and sophomore Sutter McLoughlin recorded a perfect bottom half of the inning for his WAC-leading eighth save as Sacramento State evened its weekend series at Grand Canyon with a 5-4 win.
The Hornets improved to 8-0 this season in games started by lefty Sam Long, but the freshman had to battle through six innings when he didn't have his best stuff on Saturday. After Sacramento State (21-13, 10-1 WAC) jumped to a 1-0 lead in the top of the first when junior Rhys Hoskins drove home Lukes with a 2-out single, Grand Canyon (17-15, 7-4 WAC) came back with two runs in the bottom of the inning on a 2-run double by centerfielder Matt Hagerty.
The home team moved to a 3-1 lead in the third inning on a two-out RBI knock from catcher Josh Meyer. Hornet freshman Brandon Hunley got the run back with a two-out RBI double in the top of the fourth, and in the fifth inning senior David Del Grande lined a solo home run over the left field wall to level the game at 3-3.
Meyer drove in the go-ahead run for Grand Canyon in the bottom of the fifth before Sacramento State quickly responded with a leadoff walk from senior Will Soto and an RBI infield single from catcher Dane Fujinaka.
The game remained level at 4-4 into the late innings, with Grand Canyon stranding the bases loaded in the bottom of the eighth, with junior Alex Palsha working out of a bases-loaded and no-out jam. The Hornets then stranded the bases loaded in the top of the ninth and Palsha worked around a walk in the bottom of the inning to send the Hornets to their third extra-inning game in the last five contests.
Sophomore Chris Lewis opened the 10th inning with a double but remained at second until there were two outs. After a walk from shortstop Scotty Burcham, Lukes lined a single up the middle to score Lewis and put the Hornets up 5-4. McLoughlin then set down the Antelopes in order with two strikeouts to finish the Hornet win.
After failing to record an out in a rare blown save on Friday, McLoughlin responded on Saturday for his 25th career save, moving just one save shy of the program record. Palsha improved to 4-0 with two more strong innings while the loss went to Grand Canyon reliever Kyle Detwiler.
Lukes went 3-for-6 in the leadoff spot for the Hornets to extend his career-best hitting streak to 14 games. Lewis went 2-for-5 with two runs scored as the designated hitter while all nine Hornet starting position players had hits in the game. Del Grande was hit by a pitch in the ninth inning and is now tied with David Flores for the program record with 39 career hit by pitches.
The rubber game of the weekend series in Phoenix will begin at 12:30 p.m. on Sunday.