Big Sky Conference standings
POCATELLO, Idaho -- Sacramento State pounded out nine runs and 10 hits, and got a strong seven innings from pitcher Caitlin Brooks on the way to a 9-3 victory at Idaho State in the first game of a Big Sky Conference doubleheader Friday afternoon at Miller Ranch Stadium. In the nightcap, the Bengals erased a 5-1 deficit with four runs in the fifth and a walk-off homer in the seventh to win, 6-5.
With the split, the Hornets (19-17, 7-3) remain in a virtual tie with Southern Utah (6-2) atop the Big Sky standings with seven league games remaining. Southern Utah is idle this week. The Hornets and Bengals will play the rubber game in their three-game set tomorrow afternoon at 12 p.m. PDT.
Only one game separates the top four teams in the league, including Idaho State (23-16, 5-3) and Northern Colorado (5-3) who are tied for third.
Despite the loss in the nightcap, Sacramento State has still won 11 of its last 15 games, and has now scored at least four runs in 11 of the last 12 contests. The Hornet offense combined for 14 runs and 20 hits today, batting .323 over the course of the doubleheader with six doubles, two home runs and 13 RBIs.
The Hornets scored twice in the first inning and four more times in the second to effectively put the game away early. Sacramento State led by at least five runs the rest of the game, which also included a run in the fourth and two more in the fifth.
Four Sacramento State players had multi-hit games, comprised of Paige Martin (2-for-3 with three runs), Kortney Solis (2-for-4 with a run, double and RBI), Alexis Martinez (2-for-4 with a run, home run and three RBIs) and Nicole Clark (2-for-4 with a run scored).
The big blow in the game came on a three-run homer from Martinez in the second inning after Sasha Margulies opened the scoring in the frame with an RBI-single. The home run for Martinez was her first of the season and second of her collegiate career. The Hornets later got an RBI-double from Solis in the fourth, and a two-run double from Alexa Chattleton in the fifth inning.
Brooks, who returned from injury last week, went the distance to improve her record to 6-4. In seven innings, she allowed 12 hits and three runs (two earned) while throwing 162 pitches. She stranded 12 Idaho State runners on base, including the bases loaded in the third and fourth innings.
For Idaho State, Haley Douglas (13-10) got the loss, allowing 10 hits and nine runs (seven earned) in seven innings of work.
Sacramento State had what looked to be a comfortable 5-1 lead after scoring four times in the third inning. However, Idaho State scored four times in the fifth inning (two after two outs had been recorded), and got a walk-off home run from No. 3 hitter Hailey Breakwell to lead off the seventh inning.
The Hornets' four-run third inning included a sacrifice fly from Martinez, an RBI-single from Castro and a two-run homer from Yesenia Alcala. The home run was the first of Alcala's collegiate career as she lined a 3-2 pitch over the center field wall.
The Alcala home run, however, was the Hornets' final tally of the game as Sacramento State was limited to just three hits the rest of the day. The Hornets did load the bases with one out in the fifth inning, but Idaho State reliever Jessica Tolmie worked her way out of the jam.
Both teams had 10 hits, but Sacramento State stranded 10 runners on base, including the bases loaded in the second and fifth innings. Seven Hornets had hits in the game, including Castro who was 3-for-4 with a run and two RBIs, and Alcala who went 2-for-4 with a home run and two RBIs.
Tolmie (4-2) got the win for Idaho State, pitching four scoreless innings. Bailey Foster worked the first three innings and got tagged for five runs and seven hits in three innings.
Taylor Stroud (5-6) went the distance in the loss, yielding 10 hits and six runs (five earned) with three walks and a strikeout in six-plus innings.
NOTES -- Hornet batters got hit by a pitch on six occasions today, including two more for Martin. She has now been hit by 22 pitches this season, the second most in the nation.
SOFTBALL SPLITS A DOUBLEHEADER AT IDAHO STATE
Big Sky Conference standings