MESA, Ariz. – Playing their second game of the day and fourth game of the tournament, Sacramento State (36-23) fended off elimination yet again with a thrilling, back-and-forth, 6-4 win over Utah Valley (15-41).
It was a complete win for the Hornets, who received contributions at the plate, on the mound, and on the field from up and down the lineup.
"Just a true team effort," said head coach Reggie Christiansen after the game. "A true team effort just like they've done all year long. This team doesn't quit."
With the win, No. 3 Sacramento State advances to day four of the WAC Tournament. They will face either No. 4 Grand Canyon or No. 1 New Mexico State tomorrow, Saturday, May 25 at 2 p.m. PT. Grand Canyon and New Mexico State face each other tonight at 7 p.m. PT.
Senior Bronson Grubbs came up with the game-winner on Friday evening, delivering a clutch two-out, two-run double to give the Hornets a 5-4 lead in the eighth inning.
BRONSON. GRUBBS! Senior Bronson Grubbs comes up with a clutch two-out, two-run double to give the Hornets the 5-4 lead in the eighth. What a game. #StingersUp #WACbsb #FindAWay— Sac State Baseball (@SacStBaseball) May 25, 2019
B8 | SAC 5, UVU 4 pic.twitter.com/AnuDcHQHsO
The two-run double capped a three-run eighth inning for the Hornets, who came into the inning trailing 4-2.
"For us to come back after giving up the two to make it 4-2, it really did, it took the whole team," said Christiansen.
Dylan McPhillips had three RBIs in the win, going 1-for-4 with a two-run single and a sacrifice fly. His two-run single came with two outs in the third and gave the Hornets an early lead.
Nick Iwasa capped the scoring for the Hornets with a two-out RBI-single in the ninth inning.
All six of Sacramento State's runs in Friday's game two came with two outs. In four games in this tournament, 16 of Sacramento State's 21 runs have been scored with two outs.
While the back-and-forth offense provided plenty of excitement in Friday's game two, the pitching performance was spectacular for the Hornets, as well.
It started with freshman Evan Gibbons, making just his ninth start of the season for the Hornets in a win-or-go-home contest. Gibbons was exceptional, throwing a career-high five innings and allowing just two runs, one earned, on two hits. Gibbons walked two and struck out four while throwing a career-high 87 pitches.
"Evan gave us an unbelievable start, especially as a freshman," said Christiansen of his pitcher. "He just showed true poise out there, a really great start."
Final line for Evan Gibbons: 5.0 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 4 K. 87 pitches (53 strikes). A spectacular start for the freshman, setting career highs in innings and pitches. #StingersUp #WACbsb #FindAWay pic.twitter.com/5DdW5nAr4d— Sac State Baseball (@SacStBaseball) May 25, 2019
The five innings thrown by Gibbons were crucial as the Hornets bullpen came into Friday's game two already stretched incredibly thin.
Behind Gibbons, five other Hornets pitchers combined to allowed two more runs on three hits over the remaining four innings.
Jack Zalasky got the win for the Hornets, the first of his career, after taking over for Dunham with two outs and the bases loaded in the seventh.
Stone Churby made his third appearance of the tournament with a scoreless eighth inning, striking out two. Through four games, the sophomore leads the team with 5.1 innings of work.
Austin Roberts got the ninth and was perfect, striking out one to end the game, pick up the save, and secure the win for the Hornets.
Ballgame! Austin Roberts gets the strikeout to save the win for the Hornets, 6-4, over Utah Valley. #StingersUp #WACbsb #FindAWay— Sac State Baseball (@SacStBaseball) May 25, 2019
W: Zalasky (1-0), L: Carrillo (0-3), Sv: Roberts (4) pic.twitter.com/YB4K4bipVJ
The Hornets shined defensively Friday evening as well, especially up the middle as shortstop Keith Torres and Ryan Walstad made a number of spectacular plays. The duo turned two double plays in the game and very nearly turned a third.
"So many guys were a big part of that thing," added Christiansen. "And I'm just extremely proud, especially of the young players that stepped up today, in both games."
The "young players" have been a major part of this team all season with nearly three-quarters of the team's at bats and innings pitched over the course of the season.
Top among them this week has been freshman Trevor Doyle, who leads the team with a .385 batting average (5-for-13) in four games. He has a double and a triple as well as two RBIs and three sacrifice bunts.
The 2019 season continues for the Hornets, who will play another elimination game tomorrow afternoon at 2 p.m. Sacramento State will face the loser of Friday night's Grand Canyon vs. New Mexico State game.
Tomorrow's game will stream live online on ESPN+ and can also be heard online at HornetSports.com/Radio.
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.