SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Sophomore outfielder Nathan Lukes became just the second player in Sacramento State Div. I history to tally two triples in a game and went 3-for-4 overall while keying a five-run third inning for the Hornets en route to a 6-4 win over North Dakota.
With the win Sacramento State (33-21, 19-6 WAC) trimmed its magic number to clinch the WAC regular season title to two, moving to a 1.5 game lead over Grand Canyon, which opens its final regular season series on Friday hosting Utah Valley. The loss pushed North Dakota (10-27, 8-14 WAC) to the brink of elimination for postseason contention as it dropped to 2.5 games behind New Mexico State for the final qualifying spot pending the Aggies game this evening against Chicago State.
Lukes tied the single game program record with triples in the third and fifth innings, as the only other two triple game in Hornet Div. I history was by John Acha in 2003. Coming into the game the Hornets had hit only four triples all season, one coming from Lukes, and had not had any triples this year at John Smith Field.
After a scoreless first inning North Dakota strung together a trio of singles against Hornet freshman Sam Long in the top of the second and scored a pair of runs. UND had a pair of singles to open the inning and the runners moved to second and third with one away on a Hornet fielding error. Third baseman Luis Calvo drove home the first run with an infield single before center fielder Jacob Threkeld brought in the second with a sacrifice fly.
With one out in the third inning, the Hornets caught fire. Dane Fujinaka, Brandon Hunley, and Kyle Moses strung together consecutive singles to plate one run and two more came in on the first triple of the game by Lukes on a line drive down the right field line. Junior Rhys Hoskins then doubled home Lukes and David Del Grande added another single as six straight Hornets recorded hits off UND starter Jeff Campbell. Hoskins came home with the fifth run of the inning on a Will Soto sacrifice fly as the Hornets batted around in the inning.
Sacramento State added an insurance run in the sixth as Lukes tripled to the right field gap and Hoskins brought him in with a sacrifice fly. The Hornets took a 6-2 lead into the ninth inning but UND got a lead off pinch hit homerun from Zack Trygsatd and with two away Taylor Petersen hit an RBI double and reached as the potential tying run as UND put runners on second and third. Hornet sophomore Sutter McLoughlin was able to work out of the jam, inducing a groundout to short to end the Hornet win.
Long improved to 7-1 with the win, working six innings and allowing two runs (one earned) on six hits with three strikeouts. Relievers Chad Perry and Alex Palsha worked scoreless innings to get the team to the ninth before McLoughlin found some trouble but was able to finish the win. Campbell went the distance for North Dakota while also hitting cleanup, throwing 116 pitches and allowing 11 hits but no walks while he was 0-for-5 at the plate.
Lukes recorded his team-leading sixth three-hit game of the season and his 24th multi hit game overall while also extending his reached base streak to 34 games. Hoskins was 1-for-3 with two RBIs and Fujinaka went 2-for-3 as eight of the nine Hornet starters recorded hits.
Game two of the series begins at 3 p.m. on Friday.