POCATELLO, Idaho -- Alexa Chattleton, Alexis Martinez and Paige Martin all homered, and Sacramento State had 15 hits on the way to a 10-6 victory over Idaho State in a Big Sky Conference Softball Tournament elimination game Friday afternoon at Miller Ranch Stadium. The game lasted four hours and 26 minutes, and featured a 30-minute lightning delay in the first inning, and a one hour and 37 rain delay in the second inning.
The Hornets (28-25) will now have an opportunity to win their first Big Sky title tomorrow against Weber State (37-17). The Wildcats are 2-0 at the double-elimination tournament, so Sacramento State will need to beat Weber State twice to win the championship. On the other hand, Weber State needs just one win tomorrow to clinch its first Big Sky crown. The two teams will play tomorrow at noon PDT, and if necessary, play a half hour after the first game concludes. The Hornets entered the tournament as the No. 2 seed and Weber State the No. 3 seed. Sacramento State's lone loss in the tournament came against Weber State, 4-3, in a game that began yesterday and was finished this morning because of a lightning delay.
Both No. 1 seed/tournament host Idaho State and No. 4 seed Southern Utah have been eliminated from the four-team tournament. In fact, it was the Hornets that eliminated Southern Utah earlier today with an 8-0 mercy-rule victory. This marks the first time Sacramento State has advanced to Championship Saturday since the first year of the Big Sky Tournament in 2013.
Sacramento State is now 2-0 in elimination games with potentially two more elimination games tomorrow. In three games at the tournament thus far, the Hornets' offense is batting .341 with 21 runs, five doubles, six home runs, 14 walks, 19 RBIs and a .612 slugging percentage. Half of those home runs have come from Martin who has enjoyed an incredible tournament thus far, batting .667 (6-for-9) with seven runs scored, a double, two walks, three home runs, four RBIs, a 1.778 slugging percentage and a .692 on-base percentage. She has homered in all three games, and became just the third Hornet in school history to homer in three straight games (Jamie Schloredt in 2007, 2008 and 2009; Jill Haas in 1998).
The Hornets, who were swept in three games at home by Idaho State three weeks ago, got some revenge today in the form of a potent offensive attack that combined for 15 hits, one shy of a season high. Sacramento State scored five times in the first inning, three more in the second, and one in both the fifth and seventh innings.
The first two innings of the game featured a combined 14 runs as Sacramento State scored five times in the top of the first, only to see Idaho State scored five runs in the bottom of the inning. The Hornets then scored three times in the top of the second before the Bengals answered with one in the bottom of the second. However, Hornet starter Caitlin Brooks settled down, shutting out the Big Sky's top offensive team over the final five innings while Sacramento State tacked on single runs in the fifth and seventh innings.
The Hornets never trailed in the game, and their two Big Sky Tournament wins are the most for the program. Sacramento State went 0-2 in 2013, and went 1-2 last season. Sacramento State's five runs in the first inning came via leadoff home run from Martin, a three-run homer from Chattleton and finally an RBI-groundout from Nicole Clark. Sacramento State finished the inning with five runs and six hits.
After Idaho State sent 10 batters to the plate while tying the score at 5-5 in the bottom of the first inning, the Hornets bounced back with a two-out rally in the second that featured a Sasha Margulies single, Chattleton walk and three-run homer from Martinez. That gave Sacramento State an 8-5 lead, an advantage the team would not relinquish the rest of the way.
The Hornets added a run in the fifth on a sacrifice fly from Martin, and in the seventh via Solis RBI-single scoring Martin. Idaho State got its leadoff runner aboard in the bottom of the seventh, but Sacramento State promptly turned a 5-4-3 double play followed by a pop-out to end the game.
Brooks (15-6) went the distance while winning her career-high 15th game of the season. The senior right-hander is now 15-6 with a 2.67 ERA, and the 15 wins are tied for the 10th most in Sacramento State's Div. I era single-season history. Three Idaho State pitchers appeared in the game, and each got hit hard. The losing pitcher was Bailey Foster (6-3), who started the game and allowed three runs and five hits in 1.2 innings.
All nine Hornet starters had at least one hit in the game, including three hits from Clark, and two apiece from Martin, Solis, Martinez and Marissa Maligad. Both Chattleton and Martinez had three RBIs, Martin had a pair of RBIs, and Solis and Paige Castro each had an RBI.
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