GREELEY, Colo. – Nick Tanner delivered a walk off RBI single in the bottom of the ninth as Northern Colorado scored six times in their final at bat to come back for an 8-7 win on Sunday in Greeley.
Northern Colorado (11-12, 3-0 WAC) trailed 7-0 going to the bottom of the sixth inning and was down 7-2 in the ninth but scored six runs on seven hits and two walks to rally for the win. Sacramento State (11-11, 0-3 WAC) continued to swing the bats well after scoring five runs in each of the first two games of the series but couldn't overcome the Bears offense on Sunday.
In the ninth the Bears loaded the bases with one away then got an RBI single from Dean Lawson and a 3-run double by Evan Johnson to make it a 7-6 game. After another single Jack Pauley doubled in the tying run and, after an intentional walk, Tanner lined the first pitch he saw into left field to plate the winning run.
The comeback came after Hornet senior Max Karnos allowed just three hits over five scoreless innings and Sacramento State scored in five of the first six innings of the game. Karnos had three strikeouts and allowed just one extra base hit, throwing 80 pitches over five innings. An all-WAC first team selection last season, Karnos was injured to begin his senior season and has worked his back near full strength with season highs in innings and pitches on Sunday.
The Hornet offense gave Karnos plenty of early support, scoring in each of the first four innings and taking a 7-0 lead in the sixth. Junior Vinny Esposito drove in junior Ian Dawkins in the first inning, freshman Ricky Martinez scored on a Northern Colorado throwing error in the second, and Esposito and senior Trent Goodrich both had RBI singles in the third to give Sacramento State an early 4-0 lead.
Dawkins would score on a James Outman RBI single with two away in the fourth. The Hornets were set down in order for the first time in the fifth, but in the sixth inning Sacramento State scored twice more on another RBI single from Outman and an Esposito fielder's choice RBI groundout.
After Karnos exited Northern Colorado got on the board with a pair of runs on four hits in the bottom of the sixth inning before scoring six in the ninth.
Outman and junior Andrew McWilliam both had three hits for the Hornets. Esposito and Martinez each had two hits and Esposito had three RBIs. In the leadoff spot, Dawkins was 1-for-3 with a walk and hit by pitch and scored three times.
The Hornets are home to host Pacific at 6 p.m. Tuesday at John Smith Field. Incredibly, the game will be the first this season for the Hornets against another school from California.