SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Utah Valley hit three solo home runs in the sixth inning and was able to complete a 3-2 victory over Sacramento State in the finale of a three-game WAC series at John Smith Field.
The Wolverines only had one extra-base hit in the series other than the three solo homers in one inning on Sunday, which erased a 1-0 Hornet lead. Sophomore Andrew McWilliam cracked a solo home run of his own in the eighth inning but the Hornets were unable to draw even.
With the win Utah Valley (28-19, 13-8 WAC) moved into a tie with Sacramento State (26-21, 13-8 WAC) in the WAC standings. Should the teams finished tied at the end of the regular season the Wolverines would own the tiebreaker by virtue of winning the series.
Sacramento State junior righty Grant Kukuk was sailing through the first five innings as he had allowed just three singles. He got a strikeout to begin the sixth inning but then Zac Willis tied the game with solo shot down the left field line that just cleared the glove of Hornet leftfielder Chris Lewis.
On the very next pitch Greyson Bogden went deep to left, and after Kukuk got a groundout to first Craig Brinkerhoff hit a home run to center field. Utah Valley did not advance a runner past second base in the entire game other than the three homers.
The Hornets had jumped to a 1-0 lead in the fourth inning. With one away freshman Matt Smith and Lewis hit consecutive singles before junior Kody Reynolds came through with an RBI single through the right side to bring in Smith.
Sophomore Jake Mayer held the Hornets in check otherwise, allowing just five singles into the eighth inning. He got the first two outs in the eighth before McWilliam launched his team-leading fifth home run of the season high off the scoreboard in left center.
Utah Valley closer Kyle Valgardson entered after the McWilliam home run and issued a walk but nothing more. Hornet sophomore center fielder Bronson Grubbs saved a run with a spectacular running catch in the left-center gap to end the top of the ninth but Valgardson set the Hornets down in order in the bottom half.
After the Hornets scored eight runs in an 8-0 shutout on Friday the Wolverines permitted just two more runs over the last two games of the series. Mayer earned the win on Sunday allowing two runs on six hits and a walk over 7.2 innings and Valgardson got four outs for his seventh save of the year.
Kukuk allowed only six hits and no walks with three strikeouts over six innings. Senior Tyler Beardsley pitched the last three innings and continued his outstanding
season with three scoreless frames, dropping his season ERA to 0.96.
McWilliam had two of the six Hornet hits and drew a walk from the leadoff spot. Senior Trent Goodrich was 1-for-3 with a walk while Willis and Brinkerhoff both had two hits for Utah Valley, which entered the weekend as the second highest scoring team in the WAC but was held to just 2.7 runs per game in the series by Hornet pitching.
With two weeks left in the regular season Sacramento State is tied for third place in the WAC standings. The Hornets host Causeway rival UC Davis at 3 p.m. Tuesday at John Smith Field before a WAC series at Grand Canyon next weekend in Phoenix.
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