SACRAMENTO, Calif. - The Sacramento State baseball team extended its winning streak to a six consecutive games with a pair of convincing wins over Portland on Saturday at John Smith Field. The Hornets battled for a 7-2 win in game one before using three home runs to roll to a 12-2 win in the nightcap.
Sacramento State (6-1) has taken the first three games in its four-game weekend series vs. Portland (1-7), which is now 0-7 on the road so far this season. The Hornets totaled 26 hits and four home runs in the two games and got strong performance from starters Ty Nichols and Sam Long.
As a team the Hornets hit .356 over the two games and held Portland to a .235 batting average. Sacramento State also drew 10 walks and had a .434 on-base percentage. The fourth and final game of the series will begin at noon Sunday at John Smith Field.
The Hornets and Pilots were tied 2-2 in the sixth inning before Sacramento State got one run in the sixth, another in the seventh, and three more in the eighth to pull away for a 7-2 win.
Neither team could get much offense going until the fourth inning, when Hornet junior catcher Dane Fujinaka delivered a two-out single to center that scored one run and skipped past the Portland centerfielder to allow a second run to score. Portland quickly evened the score in the next half inning as first baseman Davis Tominaga split the gap in left center to bring home two runs on an RBI double.
In the top of the sixth the Pilots stranded the bases loaded, and in the bottom of the sixth Hornet junior Nathan Lukes hammered the first pitch of the inning over the right field wall for his first home run since May of 2013. An inning later Lukes drew a two-out walk and scored all the way from first on an RBI knock from junior Chris Lewis.
The wheels came off for Portland's bullpen in the eighth inning as the Hornets had two hits and four walks, with three of the walks coming with the bases loaded to force in three runs. After two scoreless innings from junior Grant Kukuk Hornet freshman Ryan Smith finished the last two innings to pick up his first career save.
Nichols allowed just two runs on five hits and two walks over five innings pitched while Kukuk picked up his first career win in relief. Sophomore Brandon Hunley went 3-for-4 with two runs while Fujinaka and senior Scotty Burcham each had two hits and Lukes went 1-for-3 with two RBIs and two runs scored.
Sacramento State used the long ball to score a rout in game two of the doubleheader. For starters Lewis launched a 2-run shot to the top of the parking structure beyond the left field wall to give the Hornets a 2-0 first inning lead.
In the third inning Portland got a 2-run dinger of their own off the bat of shortstop Michael Lucarelli, but in the bottom half of the inning senior Kyle Moses had a leadoff single before freshman Vinny Esposito blasted a 2-run homer to left center. Lukes followed with a bunt single and Lewis unloaded again with his second 2-run home run in the game.
The Hornets put the game out of reach in the fourth inning, sending 10 men to the plate and scoring five times on six hits and a walk, including RBI doubles from both Lukes and Lewis. In the sixth inning Sacramento State would pick up another run as Burcham scored from third on an RBI groundout from freshman Bronson Grubbs.
Meanwhile, Long completed 5.2 innings and allowed just the two runs on five hits and one walk with five strikeouts. Sophomore Austin Ragsdale went an inning and a third of scoreless relief before freshman Jeremiah Moore made his collegiate debut and went six up, six down with a strikeout to finish the win.
Long, who has received 22 runs of support through his first two games of the season, improved to 2-0 while Portland starter Cole Doherty was tagged with 10 earned runs in 3.1 innings to take the loss. Hornet pitching held the Pilots to just seven hits in the game and issued only one walk.
Esposito went 3-for-5 with four RBIs and three runs, Lukes finished 4-for-5 with three runs scored, and Lewis was 3-for-4 with five RBIs and three runs (hitting 2-3-4 in the Hornet lineup the trio combined to go 10-for-14 with three home runs, 10 RBIs, and eight runs scored). Portland had two players with two-hit games.