SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Sacramento State combined for 18 runs over two games, led by junior Sasha Margulies' five hits and seven RBIs, as the Hornets swept a doubleheader from Montana on Saturday afternoon at Shea Stadium. The Hornets won the first game, 9-8, in 11 innings, before a 9-1, five-inning mercy rule victory in the nightcap.
With the sweep, Sacramento State has now won six of its last seven games while improving to 15-17 overall and a perfect 5-0 in the Big Sky Conference. The Hornets and Grizzlies conclude their three-game series tomorrow for a single game at noon. Montana, which is a first-year softball program, dropped to 5-24 overall and 1-4 in the Big Sky.
The Hornets are now 5-0 in conference play for the first time since the 1993 squad won its first five Western Athletic Conference games. Sacramento State swept a three-game home series against Northern Colorado last weekend.
During today's doubleheader, the Hornet offense generated 19 hits in 61 at-bats (.311) to go along with 17 RBIs, 10 walks, two stolen bases and a .411 on-base percentage. Leading the way was Alexa Chattleton and Margulies. Chattleton finished the day 5-for-7 with three runs, two doubles and three RBIs. Margulies went 5-for-9 with three runs, a home run and seven RBIs. That home run was a fourth-inning grand slam in the nightcap that allowed the Hornets to mercy rule the Grizzlies.
Chattleton improved her season batting average to a robust .406 while Margulies is just behind with a .389 batting average. Both players are currently riding a four-game hitting streak.
"We need to take care of our home games, and win as many as possible," Sacramento State head coach Lori Perez said. "Getting that win in the first game today was key, and that momentum carried over into the second game. We have a tough road stretch coming up (six straight conference games on the road), making tomorrow's game very important, and I know the team will be hungry.
"Our offense has really settled in, we are consistenly getting good at-bats, and the team is doing a good job of executing the game plan."
In a game that lasted three hours and 11 minutes, and went 11 innings, it was Sacramento State that finally pulled out the victory on a one-out, walkoff squeeze bunt by Paige Castro that scored Chattleton from third base with the game-winning run. Castro's perfectly executed bunt came on the first pitch she saw, and Chattleton slid home in plenty of time to give the Hornets their second extra-inning win of the season. Sacramento State is now 2-5 in extra inning games, and the team has already played in three games this season that have lasted at least 10 innings.
Sacramento State had leads of 3-0, 4-3, and 8-5, but Montana kept battling back. That included a four-run sixth inning which allowed the Hornets to take what seemed like a comfortable 8-5 lead heading into the seventh inning, but the Grizzlies scored three times on a pair of home runs in the top half to send the game into extras.
The Hornets' 11th inning began with singles by Margulies and Chattleton to put runners at the corners with no outs. Chattleton stole second base to put runners at second and third, before Paris Prado hit a sharp ground ball to Montana shortstop Delene Colburn who threw home to get Margulies at the plate by an eyelash. On the play, Chattleton advanced to third, and later scored on Castro's bunt.
Sacramento State scored three times in the first inning, all with two outs, on a two-run double from Chattleton and an RBI-single from Kortney Solis. After Montana tied the game with three runs in the third, the Hornets got an RBI-single from Alexis Martinez to retake the lead at 4-3 in the bottom of the fourth.
Montana took its first and only lead of the game (5-4) with single runs in the fifth and sixth innings, before the Hornets posted four runs in the bottom of the sixth to take an 8-5 lead. Each of the four runs in the inning came with two outs, highlighted by a Shelby Johnston RBI-double, and a two-run single from Margulies. Montana tied the score at 8-8 in the top of the seventh on a solo home run from Lexie Brenneis followed later in the inning by a two-run blast from Mercedes Bourgeau.
Both pitchers went the distance, as Hornet starter Celina Matthias (8-8) got the win while issuing no walks and seven strikeouts and throwing 183 pitches over 11 innings. Cole (3-11) took the loss, allowing 15 hits and nine runs over 10.1 innings. Only five of those runs were earned as Sacramento State took advantage of three Montana errors.
Chattleton (4-for-5 with two runs and two RBIs), Margulies (3-for-6 with a run and two RBIs) and Solis (2-for-4 with an RBI) each had multiple-hit games. Eight of the nine players in Sacramento State's starting lineup hit safely in the game.
In the nightcap, the Hornets scored nine runs with just four hits, and right-hander Caitlin Brooks allowed just four hits and one run over five innings. Sacramento State had big innings in the first (five runs) and fourth (four runs) to account for their nine runs. Margulies finished the game 2-for-3 with two runs and five RBIs while accounting for half the team's hits, and over half the team's RBIs.
In the five-run first inning, Sacramento sent 11 batters to the plate, getting runs on RBI-singles from Margulies and Chattleton, a bases-loaded hit-by-pitch to Castro, a sacrifice fly from Martinez and a bases-loaded walk to Paige Martin.
The Hornets increased the advantage to 9-0 in a fourth inning which saw the team load the bases with one out via two walks and an error. That brought up Margulies, who crushed an 0-1 pitch well over the right field wall for a grand slam.
Montana scored a run in the top of the fifth inning, and had runners at second and third with one out, but Brooks was able to work out of the jam and improve her record to 6-3 this season. The senior walked one and struck out six batters while throwing just 81 pitches.
Montana's Carli Riordan (1-11) got the loss, allowing three hits and five runs (two earned) over one-plus inning of work.
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