MESA, Ariz. – It took 15 innings and more than five hours, but the Sacramento State baseball team walked off in dramatic fashion on New Mexico State, 4-3. By winning the game, the Hornets force a final, winner-take-all WAC Tournament Championship game tomorrow at 1:05 pm PT.
Matt Smith delivered the walk-off, scoring Dawkins with a hard hit ground ball to third. The ball deflected off the glove of New Mexico State's (39-20) third baseman and rolled into shallow left field.
The 15th-inning run was just one part of what was an absolutely incredible game.
Fox got the start for the Hornets and was fantastic over six innings against the conference's top offense. Fox tossed a quality start, allowing three runs on seven hits with two walks and six strikeouts.
After allowing a run in each of the second, third, and fourth innings, Fox cruised through his final two frames before the bullpen took over. His six innings and 89 pitches were both career-highs in what was one of the best starts of his career.
Ragsdale was first out of the pen for Sacramento State and, like Fox, found himself setting a new career-high for innings pitched and pitches thrown. Ragsdale was dominant for 7.1 shutout innings in relief. He scattered five hits while walking one and striking out six. It was an absolutely incredible performance for the senior right-hander, who tossed 81 pitches in the effort.
With one out and a runner on second in the top of the 14th, the Hornets turned to Root to get out of the jam. Root, who started the first game of yesterday's doubleheader and threw 94 pitches while getting the seven-inning, complete game win, pitched the Hornets out of jams in the 14th and 15th innings. Pitching in consecutive days, Root threw a total of 8.2 innings and 121 pitches.
Root picked up his 11th win of the season for his effort, improving to 11-3 on the season and becoming the first pitcher since Ronald DeLaMazza in 1993 to reach 11 wins.
Offensively, the Hornets, who came into Saturday night's game hitting nearly .400 through four conference games, struggled to find hits against New Mexico State and their starter, Justin Dehn.
Although the Hornets battled all-night, working long at-bats and seeing a lot of pitches, it took until the fifth inning for them to get their first hit, a Vinny Esposito single to right.
Trailing 3-0 in the sixth, Sacramento State took advantage of two New Mexico State errors to score three runs and tie the game.
Keith Torres led off the sixth with a walk. Two batters later, James Outman hit a hard groundball up the middle that was bobbled by the shortstop. Torres advanced to third and Outman was safe on what was the first error of the inning.
PJ Floyd was next, and he lined a base hit into right field. Torres scored easily on the play and Outman advanced to third. On the play, the right-fielder threw the ball past the third baseman, allowing Outman to score.
Floyd would come around to score to tie the game on an RBI-single from Andrew McWilliam.
After the Hornets scored three times to tie the game in the sixth, the bullpens traded zeros for nine innings before the Hornets broke through with the game-winner.
With two more elimination wins on Saturday, the Hornets have now won four straight must-win games in two days after dropping their opener to New Mexico State on Thursday. They are 11-2 in elimination games in the WAC Tournament since 2014.
They'll have to win one more if they want to clinch the WAC Tournament title and secure the conference's automatic berth in the NCAA Regional Tournament. The Hornets and New Mexico State Aggies will face off one final time, tomorrow, on Sunday, May 27 for a winner-take-all matchup.
First pitch for Sunday's game, originally scheduled for noon, has been pushed back to 1:05 due to the length of Saturday night's 15-inning marathon. The Hornets are expected to start Parker Brahms, who threw eight innings and allowed just two runs on Thursday against this same New Mexico State team. The Aggies are expected to counter with their ace, Kyle Bradish.