GREELEY, Colo. — The Sacramento State baseball team rallied in the ninth inning but came up just short of another late-inning comeback, falling 7-5 at Northern Colorado in the Western Athletic Conference opener for both teams.
The Hornets (11-9, 0-1) trailed 7-3 heading into the ninth inning but loaded the bases behind a pair of walks and an infield single. Following a pitching change, Ian Dawkins drew a walk to plate the first run and Devin Lehman followed with an RBI groundout which placed the tying run on second base. From there, UNC (9-12, 1-0) was able to record a strikeout and James Outman flew out to deep right center-field to end the game.
The game was scoreless through the first five innings as starters Justin Dillon and Aaron Hamilton kept the opposition off balance. Sacramento State broke through first with a pair of runs in the top of the sixth when Vinny Esposito lined a two-out double to right center to score Outman and PJ Floyd.
The Bears responded in the bottom half of the inning with five runs in unconventional fashion. A leadoff double started the frame and was followed by a sacrifice attempt which eluded Dillon and placed runners on the corners. A sac fly made the score, 2-1, before UNC loaded the bases with a walk and a catcher's interference call. A routine fly ball to center could have been the last out of the inning but Dawkins lost the ball in the sun allowing two runs to score. The damage continued with a single from Nick Tanner and an RBI groundout from Alex Kiel to make the sore, 5-2.
The Hornets drew closer with a run in the eighth inning. Floyd started the inning with a triple to center field and scored on a sacrifice fly from Esposito for his third RBI of the game. Again, the Bears answered with a pair of runs of their own in the bottom of the inning. A leadoff single from Cole Maltese was followed by a triple from Jack Pauley. After a pitching change, Brett Minnick greeted Austin Root with a single to left to score Pauley.
Sacramento State collected nine hits as a team as eight different Hornets had a hit. Outman went 2-for-5 and was the only player with multiple hits for Sacramento State. Pauley was 2-for-3 to lead UNC and Minnick was credited with three RBI.
Dillon took the loss and fell to 2-2 on the year. The senior threw six innings and allowed five hits and five runs (just one earned) with three walks and one strikeout. Hamilton improved to 2-1 as he surrendered five hits and two runs with three strikeouts and walk in six innings. Anthony Brady picked up his third save of the year, escaping from a bases-loaded no-out situation in the ninth.
The three-game series will continue on Saturday at 11 a.m. PDT. The game can be heard on hornetsports.com/radio.