SACRAMENTO, Calif. - In a back and forth game in which each team rallied from late deficits, Sacramento State freshman Dan Deely was the hero as his walk-off single in the bottom of the ninth scored sophomore Brandon Hunley and gave the Hornets an 8-7 win over Utah.
"I was just trying to get a good pitch to hit," said Deely of his one out, bases loaded single to win the game. "The pressure is on them in that situation. I wanted to keep it simple and stay up the middle and it worked out."
The win gave Sacramento State (3-1) a victory in the season-opening series after the Utes and Hornets split four games in Sacramento last season. Utah (1-3) battled the Hornets on Sunday and Monday but came up short both times, with base running errors hampering them yesterday and five fielding errors hurting them today.
Sacramento State also swung the bats exceptionally well throughout the series and had a season-high 14 hits on Monday, receiving multi-hit games from five different players. Deely had one of them with a 2-for-4 line and two RBIs from the nine spot while freshman Bronson Grubbs and senior Scotty Burcham also had two hits and the team's No. 3 and 4 hitters, Devin Lehman and Nathan Lukes, both went 3-for-5.
Utah took an early 2-0 lead with single runs in each of the first two innings. Sacramento State drew even with two runs in third, Utah went back ahead with one run in the fourth, and the Hornets answered with a two-run sixth to take a 4-3 lead.
In the top of the seventh Utah loaded the bases with two outs and scored one run on a balk and two more on an RBI double from Cody Scagarri to move back ahead, 6-4. Lehman and Lukes opened the bottom half of the inning with consecutive singles and both came around to score on a two-run single by Burcham. Aggressive base running and a fielding error allowed Burcham to score and give the Hornets a 7-6 lead.
Down one run in the ninth, Utah's Wyler Smith began the inning with a double and a single followed to put runners on second and third with nobody out. Smith would score on a safety squeeze bunt to tie the score, and the Utes had runners on the corners with just one away before sophomore Jared Paderez induced a double-play groundout to Hunley third to keep the game tied.
On the first pitch he saw leading off the bottom of the ninth Hunley laced a double down the left field line and advanced all the way to third base as the ball got by Utah left fielder Jayson Rose. The Utes got one out sandwiched between two intentional walks, and with the infield in Deely lined a 2-0 pitch to center to win the game.
"It was a pretty sloppy baseball game today but we'll take it," Sacramento State head coach Reggie Christiansen said. "Our guys battled. We didn't pitch well in the middle innings but our guys came back in the seventh inning and the ninth. I couldn't be more proud of this group to go 3-1 against a pretty good team in the first series of the year."
Paderez was the last of six Hornet pitchers after freshman starter Anthony Castaneda had some control problems and was lifted in the second inning. He earned the win while the loss went to Utah reliever Dylan Drachler after its starter, Nolan Stouder, allowed two runs on five hits and two walks in four innings pitched.
Despite Utah's five errors in the game only one of the eight Hornet runs was unearned. The Utes committed eight errors in the series while the Hornets had just one, and Sacramento State was 9-of-11 in stolen base attempts and allowed just seven steals in 14 Utah attempts. The Hornets hit a solid .286 in the season-opening series.
Sacramento State is off until opening another four game home series at 2 p.m. Friday vs. Portland. The teams will play a doubleheader beginning at 11 a.m. on Saturday and wrap up the series at 12 p.m. Sunday at John Smith Field, which welcomed an impressive 2,187 total fans for the Utah series.