SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Sacramento State senior shortstop Scotty Burcham homered twice, the first home runs of his career at John Smith Field, and drove in a career-high five runs to lead the Hornets to a 9-3 win over Northern Colorado and a series sweep on Sunday.
"It's awesome, especially on Mother's Day. My mom is always happy for me to get hits but to hit a homerun is pretty special," Burcham said. "Today I just got in good counts, and earlier in the game I was late on the fastball but I made a slight adjustment and was on time. I'm glad our team is starting to come around at the right time."
Sacramento State (29-23, 15-9 WAC) completed a three game sweep of Northern Colorado (16-27, 12-12 WAC) after the teams came into the weekend tied for fourth place in the WAC. The Hornets have now won seven straight games and have scored at least seven runs in each of the wins.
Sacramento State is just two and a half games out of first place in the WAC with one week to play. The Hornets will host league-leading Grand Canyon (30-21, 17-6 WAC) to end the regular season next week and will have a shot at another WAC title with a sweep. They will also need some help, however, as Seattle U is in second place at 16-8 while CSU Bakersfield is percentage points ahead of the Hornets in third place at 15-8-1.
The sweep of Northern Colorado was truly a team effort as every Hornet starter had at least one hit in each game of the series. Burcham was 3-for-5 with five RBIs and three runs scored on Sunday while freshman Vinny Esposito, junior Chris Lewis, and sophomore Gunner Pollman all went 2-for-4.
Sunday's game was tied 1-1 into the fifth inning before the Hornets pulled away. Sacramento State scored four times on four hits, with all-time hits leader Nathan Lukes driving in freshman Dan Deely with a sacrifice fly ahead of Burcham's first home run with freshman Bronson Grubbs on base and an RBI double from Lewis.
The Bears came back with two runs in the bottom of the inning on a 2-run shot by senior Jensen Park. In the sixth, Northern Colorado reliever Alex Werbach set down the first two men he faced before four straight Hornet singles from Grubbs, Lukes, Burcham, and freshman Devin Lehman produced three more runs.
Trailing 8-3, Northern Colorado was held to just one hit and one walk over the last four innings of the game. Burcham, who recorded his 16th multi-hit game over the last 22 contests, tacked on an insurance run with a leadoff home run to left center in the ninth inning. He came into the game with just one career home run, hit earlier this season at Utah Valley.
With his three hits Sunday Burcham has 229 career hits to equal the program record that was held by Aurelio Jackson for 14 years before Lukes broke it yesterday. Lukes now has 234 career hits for the new program record and is five runs scored shy of breaking that career record held by Jackson.
Sophomore Justin Dillon threw six strong innings for the win on Sunday allowing just three runs on six hits and one walk with four strikeouts. Junior Tyler Beardsley had a perfect inning of relief and junior Sutter McLoughlin got the last six outs with three strikeouts. Hornet pitchers held Northern Colorado to a .189 batting average in the series with 22 strikeouts and just two walks.
The Hornets will be playing next week for the regular season WAC title but also for seeding in the WAC Tournament as the top two teams in the final regular season standings earn byes on the first day of the tournament. Grand Canyon leads the league but is not eligible to compete in the tournament as it completes its transition to Div. I, meaning that the team that finishes third would earn one of the byes should Grand Canyon end the regular season in first or second.
The series against the Antelopes begins on Thursday at 3 p.m. at John Smith Field with games to follow at 3 p.m. Friday and noon on Saturday.