SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Sacramento State plated eight runs - its highest scoring output since March 6 - and junior Sam Long allowed just two runs in six solid innings to lead the Hornets to an 8-5 win over Northern Colorado to open a three game WAC series.
Sacramento State (15-10, 4-0 WAC) remained undefeated in conference play while picking up its ninth home win of the year. After its first scheduled WAC series was cancelled due to weather last weekend, Northern Colorado (5-17, 0-1 WAC) dropped its first league game.
The game was a pitcher's duel through five innings before both teams got their bats going in the late innings. Sacramento State held an 8-2 lead going to the ninth inning before the Bears started a rally. UNC scored three times and had the bases loaded with one out before senior Tyler Beardsley got a strikeout and fly out to end the game.
The Hornets took an early 2-0 lead with a two-out rally in the first inning. After junior Kody Reynolds walked freshman Matt Smith hit a sun-aided triple down the right field line to bring home Reynolds and then scored as well on a wild pitch.
Long held Northern Colorado at bay until the fifth inning, when the Bears had a two-out rally of their own and scored twice to tie the game. Long stranded two on base and leading off the bottom of the fifth senior Chris Lewis hit his third home run of the season to put the Hornets right back on top.
Two singles, a walk, and two Northern Colorado wild pitches enabled the Hornets to tack on two more run in the sixth. In the seventh inning sophomore Andrew McWilliam had an RBI single, junior Brandon Hunley followed with an RBI single of his own, and Hunley stole second, third, and home (on a double steal) to give the Hornets a six run lead.
Long allowed just five hits in six innings with five strikeouts to pick up his third win of the season. Jonny Palsha and Chad Perry threw scoreless innings out of the bullpen and Beardsley picked up the last two outs.
Freshman Corey Nakakura was solid for Northern Colorado, allowing three runs on just two hits over five innings but was tagged with the loss. The Hornets drew five walks in the game while UNC pitchers hit three batters and uncorked four wild pitches.
Sacramento State totaled five stolen bases in the game. McWilliam was the only Hornet with a multi-hit line, going 2-for-3 with an RBI and a run, but six Hornets had hits in the game and seven different players scored runs. The home run by Lewis was the first Sacramento State has hit since March 13 at Arizona.
The second game of the series will take place at 1 p.m. Saturday at John Smith Field with Sacramento State junior Max Karnos facing Northern Colorado senior Alex Werbach.
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