SACRAMENTO, Calif. - The top three hitters in the Sacramento State lineup combined for seven hits and drove in three runs to lift the Hornets to a 5-4 win over No. 18 UC Santa Barbara on Saturday afternoon at John Smith Field.
Sacramento State (7-5) was paced by a three-hit performance from freshman PJ Floyd, who finished 3-for-4 with a double. Senior Scotty Burcham and junior Nathan Lukes each went 2-for-4 to solidify the upper third of the order.
Floyd, who was making his first collegiate start, opened the bottom of the first inning with an infield single to second base. After a fielders choice placed Burcham on first and eliminated Floyd, Lukes singled through the right side to give the Hornets runners on the corners. Chris Lewis then flew out to left field, plating Burcham for the first run of the game.
The Hornets got to the Gauchos (10-4) for a second run in the following inning. Brandon Hunley had a one-out single to center and later reached second on a throwing error. Bronson Grubbs then beat out a would-be double play to keep the inning alive which allowed Floyd to line an RBI single to right.
Sacramento State's two-run advantage disappeared during the third inning as UCSB scored a pair of runs. A pair of singles started the frame and the pair of runners were moved to second and third on a sacrifice bunt. A ground out drove in the team's first run before Cameron Newell singled to right to knot the game.
The Gauchos took their only lead of the game in the fourth inning on another groundout. That run was created following a leadoff single to left by Woody Woodward and a walk to Robby Nesovic.
Floyd ignited Sacramento State's comeback in the fifth inning with an opposite field leadoff double down the left field line. Scotty Burcham lined a single up the middle to tie the game, 3-3, before Lukes split the right-center gap for his second triple of the season. Lewis continued the rally with his second sacrifice fly of the game which gave the Hornets a 5-3 lead.
That advantage proved to be sufficient for three Sacramento State pitchers. Sophomore Sam Long lasted six innings, and improved to 3-0 on the year, after scattering five hits and three runs with one walk and one strikeout. Ryan Smith pitched the seventh and eighth inning, allowing a run on two hits. He gave way to sophomore Justin Dillon who earned his first save of the season with a 1-2-3 ninth.
UC Santa Barbara's Shane Bieber dropped to 2-2 with the loss. Bieber threw 6.0 innings with nine hits, four earned runs and three strikeouts.
The rubber-game of the three-game series will come on Sunday at noon. Sacramento State will turn to senior Ty Nichols (0-0, 2.03 ERA) while the Gauchos will counter with left-hander Justin Jacome (2-1, 2.41).