SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Sacramento State took a 1-0 lead into the seventh inning of their 2018 season opener Friday night at John Smith Field, but a late Washington run forced extra innings before they eventually overtook Sacramento State, 4-1, in 11 innings.
The Hornets (0-1) started right-hander Parker Brahms and the sophomore settled right in, striking out the side in the first inning. Last season's Western Athletic Conference (WAC) Freshman of the Year, Brahms shut out Washington (1-0) for six innings, scattering just two hits and striking out nine. He threw 72 pitches in the outing, 57 of them for strikes (79%).
"Brahms pitched great," said head coach Reggie Christiansen after the game. "He was throwing strikes all night and that's what you want to see, especially early in the season."
Sacramento State got on the board first, tagging Washington's starter, Joe DeMers for a run in the fourth inning. Matt Smith got things started for the Hornets, doubling off the wall in left center. After Vinny Esposito drew a walk, the duo both broke for a double steal. A wild throw down to second skipped into centerfield, allowing Smith to score easily.
Overall, Smith went 2-for-5 with a double, two stolen bases, and a run scored in his return to action. After an exceptional freshman season in 2016, the left fielder missed the entire 2017 season with a shoulder injury.
"It was good to have him back in the lineup," said Christiansen. "He can play and he showed that tonight."
The Hornets held Washington scoreless before a seventh-inning run on a sacrifice fly evened the score at one run apiece.
Sacramento State had a chance to pull back ahead in the eighth. James Outman doubled then advanced to third on a fly out by Smith, but the Hornets left their leading slugger stranded at third. They put another runner on in the ninth, but were unable to move him around the diamond.
In the end, the Hornets struggled to an 0-for-12 mark with runners in scoring position.
"We weren't able to find the hits we needed tonight," added Christiansen. "We had a couple chances but couldn't come through. And that's not to take away from them, the guy they had out there at the end was throwing pretty good."
Washington was able to find the hits they needed, and finally broke the 1-1 deadlock with three runs in the top of the 11th inning. The Huskies took advantage of a walk, a hit by pitch, a couple timely hits, and a Hornets error to put the game away against Sacramento State reliever Ty Fox.
The Hornets went quietly in the home half of the 11th as the game went final with Washington on top, 4-1.
Washington's Stevie Emanuels, a freshman out of Bellvue, Washington and the Huskies' scheduled Sunday starter, pitched the final two innings for Washington, earning the win, the first of his career. Fox took the loss for Sacramento.
The Hornets and Huskies are scheduled to continue this season-opening four-game set tomorrow at John Smith Field. Sacramento State is expected to start right-hander Austin Root (2-0, 2.70 in 2017) while Washington counters with lefty Chris Micheles (1-5, 4.38 in 2017). First pitch is set for 3:00 pm.