MESA, Ariz. – Sacramento State (34-23) and CSU Bakersfield (24-35) took a 2-2 tie into the ninth inning before the Hornets offense scored five times to break the game open and take down the Roadrunners by a final score of 7-3.
Sacramento State improves to 34-23 overall and will advance to the next round of the 2019 WAC Tournament bracket. The Hornets will play tomorrow, Friday, May 24 at 11 a.m. against an opponent that is to be determined.
The thrilling ninth inning started quietly with a walk by Ryan Walstad, who moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Trevor Doyle. After a strikeout, the Roadrunners intentionally walked Matt Smith, putting runners on first and second as Keith Torres came to the plate.
Torres was hit by a pitch, and although the home plate umpire initially ruled that Torres made no attempt to avoid the pitch, he was awarded first base after a successful coaches' challenge by head coach Reggie Christiansen.
The Torres hit-by-pitch loaded the bases and brought Dawsen Bacho to the plate. Before Bacho could do anything, a wild pitch allowed Walstad to score, giving the Hornets a 3-2 lead.
Moments later, Bacho extended that lead with a soaring home run to left field, clearing the bases and making it a 6-2 game. The three-run shot was Bacho's sixth of the season and the team's first of the tournament.
For Bacho, the three-run home run gave him four total RBIs on Thursday. The sophomore catcher also got the scoring started on Thursday, driving in Matt Smith with a first-inning RBI-double.
The Hornets weren't done yet, though, as Steven Moretto made it back-to-back blasts with another towering home run down the line to left. The solo shot was his team-leading eighth of the year and put the Hornets ahead, 7-2.
#WACbsb Tournament Update | Back to Back jacks for @hornetsports as Steven Moretto goes deep... Sacramento State leads CSU Bakersfield 7-2 in the ninth... https://t.co/WLtvw8Q6JF pic.twitter.com/6f2BFpY5zN— WACsports (@WACsports) May 23, 2019
Although CSU Bakersfield got one back in the ninth, it was too little too late for the Roadrunners as the game went final, 7-3.
Although the Hornets saved the offensive fireworks for the ninth inning, on the mound, Sacramento State got two excellent performances from an unlikely combination in Austin Roberts and Scott Randall.
Roberts, a junior righthander, got the starting nod for the Hornets in the must-win game and threw four innings, allowing two runs on two hits and three walks. He did not strike out a batter and threw just 54 pitches (31 strikes).
Behind Roberts, starter Scott Randall made just his second career relief appearance on Thursday. The sophomore righthander threw five innings of one-run ball in relief, scattering five hits and a walk while striking out two.
Randall, who did not allow a run until the ninth after his team held a convincing 7-2 lead, picked up the win, his team-leading eighth of the season.
The duo of Roberts and Randall had appeared in just three games together all season and never in the order in which they did on Thursday. They combined for just two strikeouts but held CSU Bakersfield to just seven hits over nine innings of work.
Thursday's game saw two successful coaches' challenges by head coach Reggie Christiansen. In addition to the Torres hit by pitch being overturned, Christiansen successfully challenged an out call on Matt Smith at first base to start the game. That call was also overturned, giving Smith an infield hit. Smith would score later that inning on Bacho's double.
With the win, Sacramento State survives to play another day as they advance in the 2019 WAC Baseball Tournament. The Hornets will play again tomorrow, Thursday, May 24 at 11 a.m. Their opponent will be determined by the results of Thursday evening's games.
With the loss, CSU Bakersfield becomes the first team eliminated from the 2019 WAC Tournament. 2019 marks the third consecutive year in which the Hornets have knocked the Roadrunners out of the postseason, dating back to the 2017 championship game.
For all details on upcoming WAC Tournament games, be sure to stay tuned to HornetSports.com, @SacStBaseball on Twitter, and on the all-new Hornet Sports Experience mobile app. All these details and links can also be found online by visiting the 2019 Sacramento State baseball schedule online at HornetSports.com.