PORTLAND, Ore. -- Senior Caitlin Brooks struck out 13 batters in the opener, freshman Zamari Hinton combined for five hits over two games, and junior Sasha Margulies extended her hitting streak to 15 games as Sacramento State swept a Big Sky Conference softball doubleheader at Portland State. The Hornets won the opener behind Brooks by a 3-1 score, before overcoming a 3-1 sixth-inning deficit in the nightcap to win, 10-3, in eight innings.
The sweep allowed Sacramento State (25-24, 14-6) to remain in second place in the Big Sky standings with one game left in the regular season. That game will come tomorrow in the finale of the Hornets' three-game series with Portland State (16-34, 8-12) at noon. Idaho State swept a doubleheader against North Dakota today and clinched the No. 1 seed and the right to host the Big Sky Tournament, meaning next week's postseason event will take place in Pocatello, Idaho.
The Hornets remain one game ahead of third-place Weber State (12-6) in the standings, and a Hornet win OR a Weber State loss tomorrow would clinch the No. 2 seed in the tournament. Idaho State, Sacramento State and Weber State have all clinched berths in the double-elimination Big Sky Tournament while Northern Colorado and Southern Utah are battling for the fourth and final seed.
Brooks improved her record to 12-5 after allowing just five hits and one run while walking one and striking out 13 batters over seven innings. That included retiring the final six batters of the opening game in succession, four via strikeout. The right-hander has now struck out at least 13 batters in three of her last seven starts.
Margulies' 15-game hitting streak is the fourth longest in Sacramento State's Div. I era (1990-pres.), and Hinton (5-for-9 with three runs), Kortney Solis (4-for-8 with a homer), Margulies (4-for-9 with a double and two RBIs) and Alexis Martinez (three RBIs) all had big days offensively.
Sacramento State scored three times in the first two innings, and Brooks made that 3-0 lead hold up, allowing just a fourth-inning run. Portland State got a runner to third base with one out in the fifth, and a leadoff double in the sixth inning, but could capitalize in either of those scoring opportunities off Brooks. The fourth-year senior, and reigning Big Sky Pitcher of the Year struck out at least one batter in all seven innings, which included fanning multiple hitters in the first, second, fourth, sixth and seventh innings.
All three Hornets runs were scored with two outs, including a two-run first inning in which the Hornets sent eight batters to the plate. The big blow was a Margulies RBI-double scoring Hinton, followed three batters late by a Nicole Clark RBI-fielders choice scoring Margulies. Sacramento State had an opportunity to score more in the inning, but stranded the base loaded.
In the second, another two-out RBI-hit by Margulies scored Hinton and gave the Hornets a three-run lead, plenty of run support for a pitcher like Brooks, who is now 8-2 with a 2.20 ERA against Big Sky opposition. Portland State's lone run came in the fourth inning after a two-out, RBI-double from Brianna Celaya scored Brittany Hendrickson.
Solis (3-for-4), Margulies (2-for-4 with a run and two RBIs) and Hinton (2-for-4 with two runs scored) accounted for all eight Sacramento State hits. PSU starter Kristen Crawford (7-12) picked up the loss, allowing eight hits and three runs (two earned) over seven innings.
The Hornets erased a deficit in the sixth inning for the first time all season, and eventually scored seven times in the eighth inning to win. Sacramento State trailed, 3-1, in the sixth inning, and the team had been 0-14 when trailing in the sixth inning or later prior to today's comeback win. Making the comeback even sweeter is both sixth-inning runs came with two outs. In fact, the first two batters of the inning had been retired before Solis connected on her second home run of the season, followed by a triple from Clark and a clutch RBI-single from Martinez.
Meanwhile, Hornet reliever Celina Matthias was unhittable, entering the game in the fifth inning with the bases loaded and escaping the jam before promptly allowing just one base runner her final three innings of work. In fact, Matthias (10-12) didn't allow a hit during her 3.1 innings of relief, walking one and striking three batters while facing just one batter over the minimum.
That eventually set up an eighth inning that saw Sacramento State send 11 batters to the plate while scoring seven runs on just three hits. The Hornets took advantage of two Portland State errors, two walks, a hit-by-pitch and a passed ball. The big blow was a two-run double from Martinez which broke the tie and wound up the game-winning hit. Other big plays in the inning included a Hinton RBI-single and a base-loaded walk to Paris Prado. Coincidentally, Margulies, who is a .414 hitter, accounted for two of the outs in the inning.
Sacramento State, which never led until the eighth inning, scored its first run in the fifth on a Paige Martin RBI-single scoring Clark. Sacramento State finished the game with 12 hits, including two-hit games from Hinton, Margulies, Alexa Chattleton and Martinez. Martin, Hinton, Prado, Solis and Martinez all had RBIs.
Portland State's Karyn Wright got the loss, allowing 11 hits and seven runs (six earned) over 7.1 innings. Sacramento State's Kaitlyn Yerby worked the first 4.2 innings before being replaced in the fifth after loading the bases.
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