SACRAMENTO, Calif. - The Sacramento State baseball team played two very different games on Sunday, one against the Gonzaga Bulldogs and a second against the Milwaukee Panthers. After a lopsided 13-3 affair in the first game, the Hornets battled into extras in game two before walking off with a 3-2 win over Milwaukee.
In the day's second game, Sacramento State (5-6) and Milwaukee (2-8) took a scoreless tie into the eighth inning before the Panthers finally broke through for the game's first run.
With two outs, Milwaukee strung together three straight base hits against Hornets starter Austin Root. None of them were hit particularly hard, but they all fell in just the right places to give the Panthers the lead.
That lead lasted until the bottom of the ninth when Sacramento battled back, scoring their first run of the game, also with two outs. Dylan McPhillips opened the frame with a base hit before being lifted for pinch runner Bronson Grubbs.
Josh Urps moved Grubbs over with a sacrifice bunt, his fifth of the season, before Keith Torres was hit by a pitch. Grubbs was lifted for another pinch runner - PJ Floyd, who came around to score two batters later on a James Outman base hit. The run tied the game at one and sent it to extras.
Just like that, though, Milwaukee struck back, scoring again in the 10th against reliever Alex Dentoni to take a 2-1 lead.
In the home half of the 10th, Esposito opened with a base hit before stealing second base. He advanced to third on a Steven Moretto base hit and scored, tying the game, on a wild pitch.
The Hornets kept the line moving, though, as pinch hitter Alec de Watteville was hit by a pitch and Urps was intentionally walked. With the bases loaded, Sacramento State executed a perfect safety squeeze play. Keith Torres dropped the bunt just out in front of home plate, far enough to force the pitcher to field the ball, as Moretto slid in safely with the winning run.
Not to be overlooked among the late-game heroics is the excellent start by Root, who was brilliant over 8.0 innings and deserved more than a no-decision for his efforts. Root, coming off a strong three-inning save last Tuesday at Pacific, tossed eight innings of one-run ball against Milwaukee, giving up five hits and no walks while striking out seven. He threw 92 pitches and an incredible 75 of them for strikes (82%). His eight innings marks the longest outing by a Hornets starter this season.
The second game was a far cry from the first for Sacramento State, a game in which they fell 13-3 to the visiting Gonzaga Bulldogs. Gonzaga (5-4) led early and often in the afternoon contest, going up 3-0 by the third inning against Hornets starter Randall Scott. They continued to add on, scoring in each of the fourth, sixth, seventh, eighth, and ninth innings.
A common thread in both games Sunday continues to be the Hornets difficulty converting on opportunities with runners in scoring position. Combined, they went just 2-for-16 between the two games with runners in scoring position. In the second game, the Hornets left 14 men on base.
This whirlwind weekend of baseball at John Smith Field comes to a close tomorrow as Sacramento State hosts Gonzaga for a Monday matinee. First pitch is set for noon.