SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Starter Brennan Leitao allowed just four hits and two runs through seven innings of work and junior closer Sutter McLoughlin surpassed the program record with his 27th career save as the Hornets doubled up Texas Pan-American 4-2 in the first of a three-game series to open WAC play.
McLoughlin, who made his season debut on Tuesday coming back from shoulder trouble, set down the Broncs in order on just nine pitches in the ninth inning. He entered the game tied with former Hornet Mike Frame for the program career saves record but now owns that record on his own. He is also now just two saves shy of the WAC career record of 29.
Sacramento State (11-9) opened defense of its 2014 WAC title facing the WAC leader in ERA in Texas-Pan American (10-9) senior Blake English, who entered the game allowing just 1.59 earned runs per nine innings. After Leitao retired the Broncs in order in the top of the first the Hornets jumped on English early in the bottom half.
Senior Scotty Burcham hit a one-out triple and came into score on an RBI single from junior Nathan Lukes. After freshman PJ Floyd was hit by a pitch junior Dane Fujinaka, making his first start at designated hitter, singled to center to bring in both runners and put the Hornets up 3-0.
The Broncs got a run back on an RBI double from Cole Loncar in the third inning but Leitao was able to end the inning with two UTPA men stranded in scoring position. The visitors also manufactured a run in the fifth inning on a leadoff walk, a wild pitch, and a one-out RBI groundout to shortstop.
Those were the only runs Leitao would allow, and the Hornets added an insurance run in the seventh inning on a leadoff home run by Lukes to right center, his second round tripper of the year. Junior Grant Kukuk pitched a perfect eighth inning and McLoughlin locked it down in the ninth to finish the win.
Lukes, Burcham, Fujinaka, and catcher Gunner Pollman each had two hits for Sacramento State, which out-hit UTPA 10-4 for the game and totaled four extra-base hits. English went the distance for the Broncs, throwing 120 pitches and allowing 10 hits and three walks with three strikeouts.
Sophomore Brandon Hunley had a double to extend his hitting streak to nine games and Lukes has now reached base in all 20 games this season. The Hornets entered the game ranked 12th in the NCAA in fielding percentage and recorded their 10th error free game of the season.
Hornet sophomore Sam Long will face UTPA freshman Robert Quinonez in game two of the series at 1 p.m. Saturday.