SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Sacramento State wasted no time scoring Saturday night, striking for four runs in a big second inning and adding on in the third and fourth en route to a 6-4 win over the Washington Huskies.
The Hornets (1-1) opened the scoring in the second inning, thanks in part to timely hits and in part to Huskies (1-1) mistakes. The inning started with a Steven Moretto double. After advancing to third on a wild pitch, Moretto scored the game's first run as Michael Birch's grounder skipped between the legs of Washington's first baseman.
The inning continued with three more hits and another Huskies error, turning into three more runs for the Hornets. Moretto, who started the inning and scored the game's first run, made the innings final out as Sacramento State batted around the order in the four-run inning.
Sacramento State added another in the third inning. After second baseman Keith Torres led off the inning with a walk, Ian Dawkins clobbered a two-out triple down the right field line, scoring Torres and putting the Hornets up 5-0.
The Hornets got the sixth and final run just one inning later. Leading off the inning for Sacramento State, Matt Smith jumped all over the first pitch he saw, driving the ball out to right-center field for his first Sacramento State home run.
"I was just looking for a ball up," Smith said of the home run. "I was looking for it and he threw that fastball up, exactly what I was looking for."
Smith came on incredibly strong his freshman season before sitting out the entire 2017 season with a shoulder injury. Through his first two games back, the outfielder is hitting .375 (3-for-8) with two runs, a double, a home run, and two stolen bases.
"It feels great to be back," added Smith. "It's a long process to get back after missing a whole year but just being on the field again is a breath of fresh air."
Those last two runs proved to be the difference as Washington managed to scratch across four runs in the game's final five innings.
One of those runs came against Hornets starter Austin Root, making his 2018 debut Saturday against the Huskies. Root threw six innings, scattering five hits and a walk while striking out two. He threw 72 pitches (50 strikes) and picked up his first win of the season.
"We knew we would need at least six innings out of Root after last night's 11 innings and that exactly what he gave us," said head coach Reggie Christiansen. "He gave us six strong and our offense was much better tonight and backed him up."
Root's start and the early offense almost weren't enough for Sacramento State as the Huskies mounted a rally in the eighth inning. With one run already in and the score 6-2, Washington had the bases loaded with just one out. The Hornets turned to senior reliever Austin Ragsdale who coaxed a lazy infield pop up before inducing a soft ground ball to Vinny Esposito at first base to escape the inning.
"I think that's the difference in the game, right there," said Christiansen of Ragsdale's two outs. "Coming into that jam and getting us out of it without giving up a run was huge for us."
Washington added two more in the ninth, but Austin Roberts was able to close the door on the Huskies and seal the win for Sacramento State, the team's first of the season.
Game three of this four-game set is scheduled for tomorrow afternoon at John Smith Field. Sacramento State will turn to freshman starter Scott Randall while Washington goes with sophomore Jordan Jones. First pitch is set for 2:00 pm.