Big Sky Conference standings

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Sacramento State received strong efforts in the circle from Taylor Tessier (5.0 ip) and Celina Matthias (2.0 ip), and the Hornets used a four-run sixth inning to defeat Northern Colorado, 6-2, on Saturday afternoon at Shea Stadium. With the victories, the Hornets, who won both games of a doubleheader yesterday, swept the three-game series from the Bears.

Sacramento State has now won four straight games while improving to 18-25-1 overall and 8-9 in the Big Sky Conference. The Hornets continue their climb up the Big Sky standings as the Hornets now sit in fourth place, just one game back of third-place Southern Utah (9-8).

With just three games remaining in the regular season (next week at Portland State), the Hornets can clinch a spot in the Big Sky Tournament with one win next weekend. The top six teams in the eight-member league qualify for the conference tournament which takes place May 11-13 at the regular season champion's home field. For a complete look at the Big Sky standings, please click here.

Today, the Hornets were playing their final home game of the season, and seniors Nikki Gialketsis, Shelby Johnston, Jessica Ravetti and Taylor Tessier were honored prior to the game in an on-field celebration. Each of the four seniors started today's game with Tessier throwing the first five innings, Ravetti finishing with a hit and an RBI, Gialketsis going 1-for-1 with a walk and a sacrifice, and Johnston playing her usual stellar defense in center field.

Sacramento State took the first two games of the series yesterday by 3-2 and 3-0 scores. Today's loss dropped Northern Colorado to 19-33 overall and 7-11 in the conference.

The Hornets used solid pitching in all three games of the series, as the combination of Tessier and Matthias worked all three games. The pair combined to allow just 11 hits and one earned run with 28 strikeouts in 21 innings. That breaks down to a 0.33 ERA during the three games, which included limiting Northern Colorado to a .145 batting average. Matthias was 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA in her two appearances, and Tessier 1-0 with a 0.58 ERA in her two outings.

In today's game, Sacramento State scored single runs in the second and third innings on a Mo Spieth home run, and a Spieth ground ball allowing Zamari Hinton to score, respectively. The home run for Spieth was her eighth of the season and she leads the team with 41 RBIs. She is just the fourth player in Sacramento State history to go over 40 RBIs in a season, and needs just two RBIs to move into second place in program history (two are tied with 42 RBIs). The all-time mark is 53 RBIs, set in 2008 by Izmena Cabrera.

Northern Colorado, which was held without a hit the first 4.2 innings, scored twice in the top of the fifth to tie the score at 2-2. Tessier saw two of her infielders commit errors in the inning, and, with the bases loaded and two outs, allowed a two-run single to pinch hitter Kelli Kleis. That proved to be Northern Colorado's only hit of the game.

The one hit allowed was the lowest amount yielded in any game by Sacramento State's pitching staff this season.

With the score tied at 2-2, the Hornets broke through with four runs on three hits in the sixth inning. After the first out of the inning was recorded, the next five Sacramento State batters reached base safely. Among the big plays in the inning were an RBI-single from Marissa Maligad scoring Sydney Rasmussen from second base, a perfectly executed squeeze bunt from Suzy Brookshire scoring Nene Alas, an RBI-single from Hinton scoring Maligad, and an RBI-grounder from Ravetti scoring Brookshire.

Matthias, who entered the game in relief to begin the sixth inning, retired all six batters she faced, setting down the side in order in both the sixth and seventh innings. Matthias (8-7) got the win with the two perfect innings while Tessier allowed just one hit and two unearned runs with eight strikeouts in five innings.

Rasmussen finished 3-for-3 with a run scored and Hinton went 2-for-4 with a run and an RBI. Five different Sacramento State players had RBIs, including Spieth (2), Maligad (1), Brookshire (1), Hinton (1) and Ravetti (1).

Jayme Reddacliff (11-18) took the loss for Northern Colorado, allowing eight hits and five runs in 5.1 innings.

Next week's three-game series at Portland State will take place on Friday (doubleheader at 1 p.m.) and Saturday (single game at noon).

NOTES - A parent of all four seniors threw out the ceremonial first pitch prior to the game.