EDINBURG, Texas – The Sacramento State baseball team took advantage of a big four-run inning en route to their fourth straight win Friday night as they beat UT Rio Grande Valley, 5-2.
In what feels like a regular occurrence, the Hornets (23-17, 10-3 WAC) scored first in Friday night's game, striking for four runs in the top of the sixth inning against the Vaqueros (20-22, 5-8 WAC). Sacramento State has scored the first run in 27 of their 40 games this year (68%) and are now 20-7 in those games, good for a .741 winning percentage.
With runners on first and second, pinch-hitter Bronson Grubbs delivered the game's first run with a one-out single to left, scoring Matt Smith from second. The very next batter, Josh Urps, also singled to left, knocking in PJ Floyd to make it a 2-0 game.
After Keith Torres walked to load the bases, Ian Dawkins grounded into a fielder's choice, scoring Grubbs from third. A fielding error by the Vaqueros' shortstop turned into another run as the Hornets took a 4-0 lead.
The four-run inning is Sacramento State's 18th such inning this season. The 18 innings have come in 16 different games and the Hornets are 12-4 in those contests. They scored a season-high seven runs in one inning at UC Davis on April 17.
Sacramento State added their fifth run in the top of the ninth inning when Smith smashed a hard sinking liner down the line at third base. The ball deflected off of the glove of UTRGV's third baseman and skipped into the camera well. Dawkins, who had doubled to open the inning, scored on the play.
In total, Smith had two hits on the night and added a run scored and an RBI. Floyd also had two hits, going 2-for-4 with a run scored and a walk while Keith Torres picked up his ninth multi-hit game of the season.
On the mound, starting pitcher Scott Randall was excellent for the Hornets. Randall, who has started the team's last three Sunday games, was moved to Friday for this conference series against UTRGV. Randall did not disappoint, throwing five shutout innings while allowing just one hit. He struck out three and walked none.
Over his last five starts, Randall has posted a 1.64 ERA, allowing just four earned runs over 22.0 innings of work. He has struck out 13 and walked just three batters during that stretch. He picked up his fourth win of the season Friday night for his efforts.
Behind Randall, Ty Fox and Austin Roberts combined for two hitless innings. It wasn't until the eighth inning that the Vaqueros scored as UTRGV's Matt Smith hit a two-run home run against Alex Dentoni.
Taking over in the ninth, Tanner Dalton recorded his eighth save of the season. Dalton struck out three in the inning, but one reached on a dropped third strike, so the Hornets' closer needed four outs to lock down the save.
The appearance was the 20th of the year for Dalton, who leads the team. The defending WAC Pitcher of the Week, Dalton now owns a team-best 1.71 ERA (5 er, 26.1 ip).
Sacramento State has now won four straight games and seven of their last 10. They are 10-3 in conference play, good for second in the conference, behind Grand Canyon University and are 23-17 overall.
Their three-game weekend series at UT Rio Grande Valley continues tomorrow as the two teams take the field for a 4:00 pm PDT first pitch. Sacramento State's Parker Brahms (4-3, 1.77) is scheduled to start while the Vaqueros will counter with Chase Adams (4-3, 4.58). Catch all the action by visiting the Sacramento State baseball 2018 schedule on HornetSports.com.