SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Sacramento State right-handers Taylor Stroud and Caitlin Brooks combined to allow eight hits and no earned runs in 14.0 inning to lead the Hornets to a Big Sky Conference doubleheader sweep of Portland State Friday afternoon at Shea Stadium.
Brooks allowed just two hits and two unearned runs while striking out a career-high 13 batters in the Hornets' 5-2 victory in the first game. Stroud then followed with her third shutout of the season, a six-hitter in the nightcap in which she walked none and struck out six batters in Sacramento State's 3-0 victory.
The two teams will conclude their three-game series tomorrow afternoon at noon. With the victory, Sacramento State improved to 21-18 overall and 9-4 in the Big Sky. Portland State dropped to 7-30 and 2-11 in the league. In addition, the Hornets improved to 10-3 at home, including wins in seven of their last eight games inside the friendly confines.
The Hornets, who have just four conference games remaining on the regular season schedule, now sit all alone in second place in the league standings. Sacramento State is just a half game back of first-place Southern Utah (8-2), which swept a doubleheader from North Dakota today.
Idaho State and Northern Colorado are both 6-3, and will begin their three-game series tomorrow in Pocatello. The winner of the Big Sky's regular season title will host the conference tournament on May 8-10. The top four teams in the seven-member league will qualify for the postseason event.
"Caitlin and Taylor stepped up and helped lead the team to wins today," Sacramento State head coach Lori Perez said. "That's what you expect from your upperclassmen, and I'm proud of the effort they put forth today."
Brooks carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning before giving up a one-out hit single to Alicia Fine. Two Hornet errors in the inning eventually led to a pair of unearned runs for Portland State, but Sacramento State still had a comfortable 5-2 lead after the inning concluded.
Brooks retired the first 11 batters of the game before issuing a two-out walk in the fourth inning. Of those 11 batters, eight were retired on strikeouts. The right-hander finished the game by walking one and striking out a career-high 13 batters. The 13 strikeouts surpassed her previous high of 12, set last season against Idaho State. She struck out at least one batter in every inning, and needed just 94 pitches to earn her 11th complete game in 12 starts this season. She improved to 7-5, and lowered her season ERA to a conference-best 1.41.
The Hornets scored three times in the second inning and twice more in the fifth. Four of the team's seven hits came during those two innings, and Sacramento State has now scored 41 runs in the second inning this year.
The Hornets scored their first run of the game with some heads-up base running from Paige Castro. She led off the inning with an infield single, and Paris Prado followed with a sacrifice bunt that Castro read perfectly and found a way to advance two bases to third. Yesenia Alcala then laid down a perfectly executed squeeze that plated Castro with the first run. Later in the inning, Kortney Solis crushed the first pitch she saw to left field for a double which plated Alexa Chattleton and Nicole Clark.
In the fifth inning, Sacramento State got a Castro RBI-triple which scored Sasha Margulies, and Paris Prado had a sacrifice fly later in the inning.
Karyn Wright (2-17) got the loss for PSU, as she allowed seven hits and five runs (three earned) over six innings. Solis (2-for-3 with two RBIs) and Castro (2-for-2 with two runs, a walk and an RBI) both had multiple-hit games for Sacramento State.
In the nightcap, Stroud allowed just six hits (all singles) while walking none and striking out six batters. The fourth-year senior faced just seven batters over the minimum, threw 103 pitches, and improved her record to 6-6. Stroud now has three shutouts this season, including blankings of Iowa State and North Dakota.
Stroud did allow a runner to reach second base in the first, fourth and sixth innings, but worked her way out of those jams. She retired the side in order in the seventh inning to finish off the win.
Sacramento State got its first run in the top of the first inning when leadoff hitter Alexa Chattleton jumped on the first pitch she saw and deposited it over the right field fence. The home run for Chattleton was her first of the season and second of her career.
The Hornets added two more runs in the third inning after Margulies and Alexis Martinez both had RBI-singles scoring Paige Martin and Solis, respectively. Sacramento State finished the game with eight hits, as the first six batters in the lineup each had one hit. Both Solis (2-for-3 with a run) and Margulies (2-for-3 with an RBI) had multiple-hit games.
Prior to tomorrow's game, Sacramento State seniors Stroud, Prado and Alcala, as well as Castro will be honored for their contributions to the program.