SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Sacramento State (27-14, 13-3 WAC) put together a thrilling ninth inning on Friday night, scoring four times to come from behind and defeat the visiting New Mexico State Aggies (28-11, 11-5 WAC), 4-3.
Bronson Grubbs delivered the walkoff hit for the Hornets, a bases-clearing double that landed just inside the right field line.
"It just seemed that he was coming with the fastball, especially with the 3-2 count," said Grubbs after the game. "I was just trying to be ready to hit it the best I could."
Hit it the best he could, he did, as Grubbs smashed one down the line in right that skipped all the way to the wall. The three-run, walk-off double came with a full count and two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning.
"That's why you play 27 outs," head coach Reggie Christiansen said after the game. "It's a 27 out game and it took them all tonight."
The ninth inning started simply enough, with Matt Smith lining a base hit into left field. Dawsen Bacho followed with a soaring fly ball that was caught in deep center field before pinch-hitter Dylan Ohlsen singled to center to put runners on the corners.
After pinch hitter Michael Birch hit a fly ball that was just too shallow to allow Ohlsen to tag, it came to Grubbs with two outs and the bases loaded.
"We had some really good at bats there in the ninth," said Christiansen, singling out each player that went to the plate in the ninth. "All the guys had big at bats to set that up and set the stage for Bronson."
Laughing in his postgame interview, Grubbs noted that the walk off was his first as a Hornet.
It wasn't the Hornets' first year, though, as they have now won in walk-off fashion an incredible five times this season.
"We pride ourselves on being able to stay in games and hopefully get something at the end," added Grubbs. "We've started calling ourselves the heart-attack Hornets. We just come alive in the 8th and 9th innings it seems."
"This team believes," added Christiansen. "They just believe."
The Hornets fell behind early on Friday as the Aggies jumped out to a 1-0 lead thanks to a Hornets error in the first inning. New Mexico State added another run - again thanks to a second Hornets error - in the eighth. They tacked on their third and final run in the ninth to take a 3-0 lead at the time.
Not to be lost in the late-game heroics is the pitching performances from the Hornets, who held one of the nation's top offenses in check all night.
New Mexico State came into this weekend's series leading the nation in batting average and runs per game, among others. Scott Randall, Stone Churby, Travis Martizia, and Brady Rodriguez held them to just three runs.
Rodriguez earned the win, his fifth of the season, after taking over with one out and the bases loaded in the top of the ninth inning. The sophomore lefty got a strikeout before coaxing a foul pop up to third base to escape the jam.
With the win, Sacramento State pulls further ahead in the Western Athletic Conference standings as they now hold a one-game lead over UTRGV and a two-game lead over New Mexico State. The Hornets also own the tiebreaker against UTRGV.
Sacramento State will have a chance to extend that lead with another matchup tomorrow night, right back here at John Smith Field. First pitch for Saturday night's game is set for 6 pm.
Saturday is also Hornet Fest at Sacramento State. The campus and Sacramento State Athletics are excited to host an all-day outdoor music festival. Tickets are on sale now and include admission to the Hornet baseball game.
For more details on tomorrow's game and all upcoming games, be sure to visit the 2019 Hornet Baseball Schedule online at HornetSports.com.