SACRAMENTO — Sacramento State performed well on offense (.407 batting average), in the circle (2.33 ERA) and on defense (no errors in 51 total chances) on the way to a doubleheader sweep of Southern Utah in the Big Sky Conference opener for both teams on Friday afternoon at Shea Stadium. Playing under a constant drizzle from the overcast clouds, Sacramento State won the first game, 9-3, before taking the nightcap in mercy rule fashion by a 9-1 score.
The two teams will conclude their three-game series in a single game tomorrow at noon. Sacramento State is off to a good start as it attempts to defend its Big Sky regular season and tournament crowns from a year ago. The Hornets were unanimously selected to win this year's conference championship in the Big Sky preseason coaches poll.
The Hornets have now won six of their last eight games, and improved to 17-13 overall and 2-0 in the conference. Sacramento State is 12-5 at home this year, and has now won 12 of its last 13 home games against a Big Sky opponent dating back to the 2017 season.
Eight different Hornets had multiple hits during the doubleheader, and all nine starters had at least one hit in the nightcap. Sydnee Strong was a combined 4-for-6 during the doubleheader while Sydney Rasmussen, Katie Vretzos and Krystal Aubert each had three hits. In the circle, Danielle Sperry and Savanna Corr each earned victories while combining to allow just 10 hits with 13 strikeouts in 12 innings pitched. Corr had a career-high 10 strikeouts in the opener, surpassing her previous single game best of eight strikeouts. In addition, Sacramento State committed zero errors today, and has combined for just four errors in the last eight games.
Four of Southern Utah's first five batters of the game had hits, and three scored as the Thunderbirds jumped out to an early 3-0 lead. However, Sacramento State would score nine unanswered runs, including one in the first, three in the fourth, one in the fifth, and four more in the sixth inning. Meanwhile, Corr allowed just two hits the rest of the way after yielding the four early hits.
Sacramento State had a four-hit inning in both the fourth and sixth innings, and finished the game with 11 hits. In the fourth, RBI-singles from Strong (scoring Vretzos) and Shea Graves (scoring Strong) as well as Graves scoring on an error accounted for the three runs. After a two-out, RBI-single from Strong scored pinch runner Kayla Grubert in the fifth, the Hornets broke things open with four runs in the sixth. Each of the four runs scored with two outs, and included a two-run double from Aubert, an RBI-double from Vretzos and an RBI-single from Brianna Bowers.
Corr improved her record to 12-8 after allowing six hits and three runs with 10 strikeouts over seven innings. At one point, between the first and fourth innings, she retired eight straight batters. Opponents are now hitting just .178 when she is in the circle. Sydni Sorensen (3.1 ip) and Hanna Wynn (2.2 ip) both pitched for Southern Utah, and Sorensen got the loss.
Strong finished 3-for-4 with a run and two RBIs, Vretzos was 2-for-4 with two runs and an RBI, and Aubert was 2-for-4 with two RBIs. Seven different Hornets scored runs, including two apiece from Nene Alas and Vretzos.
The second game was all Sacramento State as the Hornets needed to bat just four times in a game that was stopped prior to the bottom of the fifth because of the eight-run mercy rule. All nine starters accumulated hits and the Hornets finished with nine runs and 11 hits for the second straight game. This time, the Hornets rode the left arm of Danielle Sperry who gave up just four hits and one run without a walk and three strikeouts in five innings.
The Hornets pounced for three runs in the first inning on a two-run homer from Aubert (which was proceeded by a Suzy Brookshire triple), and a wild pitch allowing Graves to score. For Aubert, the home run was her team-high seventh of the season. She now has a six-game hitting streak in which she is batting .545 (12-for-22) with three doubles, two homers and seven RBIs.
Sacramento State scored once in the second on an RBI-single from Rasmussen scoring Graves, and tacked on five more in the third inning. In that third frame, Sacramento State had seven hits over an eight-batter span that included singles from Strong, Vretzos, Bowers, Jessica Scott, Alas, Rasmussen and Brookshire. The Vretzos, Alas, Rasmussen and Brookshire singles each drove in runs.
The Hornets got multiple-hit games from Rasmussen and Brookshire who both finished 2-for-3 with a pair of RBIs. Not only did all nine starters record hits, but seven players also scored runs. Sperry improved her record to 5-0 this season as she faced just four batters over the minimum and lower her season ERA to 2.02.
Hannah Lilly (0-6) took the loss, as she lasted one-plus inning.
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