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BASEBALL EVENS SERIES AGAINST UTAH WITH 10-3 WIN

BASEBALL EVENS SERIES AGAINST UTAH WITH 10-3 WIN

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Sophomore Sam Long threw five shutout innings and freshman Vinny Esposito homered and drove in three runs to lead the Hornet offense as Sacramento State evened its season-opening series with Utah with a 10-3 victory on Saturday.

Sacramento State (1-1) opened up a 10-0 lead after a five-run fifth inning before Utah (1-1) scored three late runs with the Hornet win in hand. The Hornets had double-digit hits for the second consecutive game, with 10 hits on Saturday after 11 on Friday.

Esposito went 3-for-5 with his first career home run, a solo shot to left center in the third inning. Juniors Nathan Lukes (2-for-5) and Chris Lewis (2-for-4) also had multi-hit games for the Hornets, with Lukes driving in two runs for the second consecutive day.

After Utah had a runner thrown out at the plate in the top of the first inning, the Hornets jumped on Utah starter Brock Duke in the bottom half as Lukes drove in Esposito and senior Scotty Burcham with a two-run double. Esposito's home run put the Hornets up 3-0 in the third, and in the fourth inning the Hornets loaded the bases with one out before freshman Dan Deely drove in one run with a single and Burcham hit a sacrifice fly to make the Sacramento State lead 5-0.

The Hornets really blew it open in the fifth against Utah relievers Tanner Thomas and Trenton Stoltz. Sophomore Brandon Hunley drove in one run and sophomore Gunner Pollman drove in another before the Hornets loaded the bases and Burcham drew an RBI walk. Esposito had the capper on the big inning, driving in a pair with a two-out single to make the score 10-0.

Utah picked up two runs on two hits and a walk in the sixth inning and scratched across a two-out run in the eighth but could get no closer than a seven-run deficit.

Long, the reigning WAC Freshman of the Year, threw 61 pitches in five strong innings, allowing just two hits and one walk with two strikeouts. Junior transfer Tyler Beardsley had a strikeout in one perfect inning in his Hornet debut and sophomore Jared Paderez pitched the final two innings and allowed just three hits and one run.

Duke was charged with five earned runs on six hits and two walks in four innings pitched for Utah. All five Hornet runs in the fifth inning were charged to Thomas, who allowed two hits and three walks and recorded only two outs.

Sacramento State had three stolen bases in the game, with two from freshman outfielder Bronson Grubbs. The squad is hitting .296 and has drawn seven walks thus far in the series while holding Utah to a .254 team batting average and issuing just four walks.

Hornet senior Ty Nichols is slated to face Utah freshman Jayson Rose in the third of the four-game weekend series at 1 p.m. Sunday at John Smith Field.