PHOENIX, Ariz. – Sacramento State had leads of 3-0 and 5-3 but Grand Canyon rallied for three runs in the sixth inning and two runs in the seventh and withstood a ninth-inning rally to record an 8-6 win in the rubber game of a three-game set in Phoenix.
Grand Canyon (18-5, 8-4 WAC) also rallied for a 3-2 win on Friday to take two of three games in the weekend series. Sacramento State (21-14, 10-2 WAC) dropped its first conference series of the season after sweeping its first-three WAC opponents.
Redshirt freshman Justin Dillon worked a career-high five innings and departed with the lead after allowing three runs on five hits, but Grand Canyon rallied against the Hornet bullpen. In the ninth inning senior Clay Cederquist drove in a run and the Hornets had the potential tying run on base before the Antelopes were able to turn a game-ending double play.
Junior Rhys Hoskins hit his WAC-leading sixth home run of the season in the first inning as the Hornets jumped on starter Ethan Evanko with three runs off three hits and one GCU error, with two runs scoring on the Hoskins homer. The Antelopes were able to manufacture three runs to even the score in the third inning, totaling three hits and benefiting from a passed ball and a batter reaching on a wild pitch after striking out.
Senior Will Soto and junior Scotty Burcham reached base in the fourth inning and scored on an RBI single from freshman Gunner Pollman and a groundout from Brandon Hunley to put the Hornets back up by two. Senior Hunter Greenwood replaced Dillon on the mound in the sixth and got the first out of the inning before three hits and a hit batter enabled the Antelopes to take a 6-5 lead.
The Hornets retired the first two men in the seventh inning before a single, hit batter, and another single scored one run and a second scored on a wild pitch. Sacramento State stranded the bases loaded in the eighth before staging a rally in the ninth.
Senior David Del Grande was hit by a pitch to open the inning, breaking the program record with his 40th career hit by pitch, and Hoskins followed with a single. With men on the corners Cederquist drove home Del Grande to reach base as the potential tying run. Burcham, who already had three hits on the day, couldn't get a fourth as a 4-6-3 double play ended the game.
Burcham, Cederquist, Hoskins, Soto, and sophomore Nathan Lukes each recorded multi-hit games as the Hornets totaled 14 hits but pushed across just six runs, stranding 10 men on base. Malcom Purdy earned his second win of the series in relief and Antelope reliever Kyle Detwiler recorded his second save while Michael Pomeroy and Brian Kraft each had three hits in the contest for GCU.
Sacramento State ends a season long five-game road swing with a Causeway Cup contest at UC Davis on Tuesday at 2:30 p.m.