SACRAMENTO, Calif. – It took the Sacramento State baseball team seven innings to score their first run Sunday afternoon, but once they started they couldn't stop. The Hornets scored 10 times in the seventh and eighth innings on their way to a 10-1, series-clinching win over Seattle U.
Entering the seventh inning, the Hornets (26-20, 13-5 WAC) trailed the Redhawks (30-15, 11-7) by a score of 1-0. In what turned into a four-run inning, Sacramento State sent nine men to the plate while racking up six hits - all singles.
After Steven Moretto went down on strikes to start the inning, catcher Dylan McPhillips started the rally with an unassuming base hit to left. With the hit-and-run play on, Josh Urps singled to center and McPhillips advanced to third.
Keith Torres was next and he looped one lazily into shallow right field. Seattle U's Chase Wells came on hard but appeared to trap the ball as he went into a slide. Urps, who held at first, broke for second but the umpire called it a catch and Urps was quickly doubled off.
Both head coach Reggie Christiansen and first base coach Dane Fujinaka protested the call and, after a meeting of the umpires, the call was overturned, resulting in Urps safe at second and Torres at first. Instead of an inning-ending double-play, the Hornets had two runners on and a tie game.
From there, it was all Hornets, as Sacramento State scored four times in the seventh and added another six in the eighth. They sent 10 men to the plate in the eighth and though they had just three hits, they took advantage of two Seattle U errors and two walks.
"We just weren't being aggressive enough early," said head coach Reggie Christiansen of the two innings. "I think once we got to the seventh inning down one, the alarms started to go off."
Between the two innings, Sacramento State had all 10 of their runs and nine of their 11 hits.
Buried under all of that late offense was the performance by starter Parker Brahms, who absolutely dealt for the Hornets. The sophomore right-hander went six innings, allowing one run on four hits. He walked one and matched his own Hornets baseball record by striking out 14.
"All my pitches were working for me today," said Brahms after the game. "My fastball command was much better today than it's been in previous starts and the change up was on."
At one point, Brahms struck out seven straight batters, striking out the side in the fourth and fifth innings before opening the sixth with another.
"The first few innings were just getting a good feel and settling into the game," added Brahms. "Then in the middle innings I really felt like I was in control."
The 14 strikeouts match his career-high and the record for most strikeouts in a single game in program history. Brahms also struck out 14 in his last home start on Friday, April 13 vs. Northern Colorado.
Brahms made just one mistake, missing high with a change up in the second inning. Seattle U's Sean Sutton was all over it, sending it out to right field for a solo home run. It turned out to be the only run of the game for the Redhawks.
Austin Roberts followed Brahms with two scoreless innings and added three strikeouts. With a strikeout in the ninth, Tanner Dalton gave the Sacramento State staff their 18th strikeout of the day, the most in a game this year and in the Div. I era.
"I have to give credit to our pitching coach, Jake Angier," said Christiansen. "I think he's one of the best young pitching coaches in the country."
As a team, the Hornets own a 3.70 ERA, an 8.1 K/9, and a miniscule 2.3 BB/9. Their ERA is the best in the WAC while their 2.3 BB/9 ranks second in all of NCAA Div. I baseball.
"Obviously our pitchers have to go out there and do it and perform, but out staff has been as prepared as any and as good as any this season."
Sunday's game was the final part of Alumni Weekend at John Smith Field and the team took the field in their classic yellow jerseys as a tribute to the 2014 WAC Tournament Champion team.
The Hornets' 2014 squad wore their yellow jerseys in every game of the 2014 WAC Tournament and clinched the program's first conference tournament championship.
"It means a lot to the 2014 team - we had a lot of guys from that team in town this weekend," Christiansen noted when asked about wearing yellow for the first time this season. "It means a lot to them for us to pay tribute to them with the jerseys and our current players get excited about it, too."
With the 10-1 win on Sunday, the Hornets improved to 26-20 overall and 13-5 in the WAC. They also clinched their sixth straight conference series win this season and their eighth straight dating back to the 2017 campaign.
"That's just the goal, is to collect conference series wins," added Christiansen. "It keeps you in the hunt and has put us in a good position.
The Hornets keep pace with first-place Grand Canyon, remaining a game back of the conference-leading Antelopes while maintaining a one-game lead on NM State.
"It can be easy to look at the standings and scoreboard watch but really we control our own destiny at that this point. We just need to continue to play good baseball and our focus should be on the Causeway game coming up on Tuesday."
Tuesday's Causeway game against UC Davis is scheduled for a 6:00 pm first pitch at John Smith Field. For more information, please visit the 2018 Sacramento State baseball schedule.