SACRAMENTO, Calif. – On an exceptionally chilly Friday night, the Sacramento State Hornets and San Francisco Dons needed extra innings to settle their game at John Smith Field. After 10 scoreless innings, San Francisco finally broke through, beating Sacramento State 2-0.
Parker Brahms got the start for Sacramento State and was excellent. The big right-hander threw seven shutout innings, allowing just three hits and one walk while striking out nine.
"I thought Parker was great tonight," said head coach Reggie Christiansen. "He's just so competitive. He was out there throwing strikes and that's what you want to see."
Brahms threw 85 pitches Friday night, 59 of them for strikes. He allowed a double and a walk in the first inning, but after that went into cruise control, at one point retiring 12 straight from the first to sixth inning.
In two starts, Brahms has a combined 13.0 shutout innings with 18 strikeouts. He's allowed just five hits and walked one so far this season. Unfortunately, he has yet to come away with a win as he has received zero runs in support through two games.
The bullpen picked up right where Brahms left off as Ty Fox and Tanner Dalton pitched back-to-back shutout innings. Austin Roberts threw a perfect 10th inning but he and the Hornets ran into trouble in the 11th.
With a runner on second, San Francisco's Jake Allen hit a slow roller to the right side. First baseman Vinny Esposito charged to his right and away from the bag but was unable to make the play. Keith Torres fielded the ball at second and, hurrying a throw to Root covering at first, sent the ball just high and past the pitcher.
The run would come around to score and Allen found himself at second. He scored a batter later on a base hit to center giving San Francisco the only two runs they needed.
The Dons' Thomas Ponticelli matched Brahms frame-for-frame, also throwing seven innings and striking out nine. He was backed by Thomas Jenkins, who was lights out in relief. The hard-throwing right-hander went four innings, giving up just two hits and striking out six.
Despite the strong effort by San Francisco's pitchers, the Hornets had opportunities to score early in the game but were unable to capitalize. They found themselves with a first-and-third situation with nobody out in the fourth inning and were unable to score. Later, Sacramento State had first-and-third with one out in the eighth inning but grounded into an inning-ending double play.
"We had those two big opportunities and we just couldn't cash in," said Christiansen. "You have to give the other guys credit - they did their job and they deserved to win tonight."
Although it is still early, Sacramento State is already establishing a trend of being unable to convert on scoring opportunities. Through their first five games, the Hornets are just 6-for-54 (.111) with runners in scoring position.
They'll have an opportunity to bounce back immediately, though, as Sacramento State travels down I-80 to take on the Dons in San Francisco tomorrow afternoon. Austin Root (1-0, 0.00) is expected to take the mound for the Hornets while USF counters with Landen Bourassa (0-1, 24.30). First pitch for tomorrow's game is set for 2:00 pm.