STANFORD, Calif. — Freshman Shea Graves was 2-for-3 with two runs and two RBIs, and Danielle Sperry pitched a complete game to help lead Sacramento State to a 5-2 victory over 24th-ranked Stanford in the nightcap of a non-conference doubleheader on Tuesday evening at Smith Family Stadium. Sacramento State nearly swept the doubleheader, taking a 7-5 into the seventh inning of the first game only to see the Cardinal score three times in an 8-7 walkoff victory.
The win for the Hornets was their first over a nationally ranked opponent since a 2-1 extra inning home win over #12 Cal on March 24, 2009. That amounted to 22 straight losses against nationally ranked opposition as Stanford is currently ranked 24th in the ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25 poll. The two teams were supposed to play a doubleheader on March 6, but those games were rained out and re-scheduled for today.
The split allowed Sacramento State to move its record to 18-17 while Stanford is now 26-6. Prior to the Hornets' second-game win, the Cardinal had won seven of their last eight games, and just took two of three games last weekend against Oregon.
Sacramento State's offense was impressive tonight, combining to hit .351 (20-for-57) with two home runs and 11 RBIs against a Stanford pitching staff that entered this evening with a 2.39 ERA. The Hornets were facing Stanford's top two starters in Carolyn Lee and Maddy Dwyer. In the first game, Lee lasted just 2.2 innings before being removed, and in the nightcap, Dwyer tased just five innings (giving up nine hits) before being pulled.
Doing a good portion of the damage was Graves as the freshman shortstop finished the doubleheader a combined 4-for-7 with three runs, two homers, 10 total bases and four RBIs. She had a home run in the fifth inning of Game 1 to tie the score at 4-4, and her solo shot in the second game allowed the Hornets to take a 5-2 lead in the top of the seventh. They were the first career collegiate round trippers for the true freshman. Another freshman, Brianna Bowers was impressive at the dish, finishing 5-for-9 with a pair of runs. The two freshmen combined for nine of Sacramento State's 20 hits during the doubleheader.
Sperry (6-1) threw a complete game to earn her sixth win of the season, scattering nine hits while allowing just two runs. Stanford swung early in the count often as Sperry needed just 93 pitches to earn the win while stranding 10 Cardinal runners on base. In fact, the Cardinal, after scoring two runs in the first inning, were shut out the rest of the way. Stanford left at least one runner on base in each of the final six innings, and the seventh saw Sperry work out of a one-out, bases loaded jam.
The Hornets had 10 hits in both games, and began the nightcap with a three-run first inning that included an RBI-single from Graves and a two-run single from Sydney Rasmussen. After Stanford cut the deficit to 3-2 with a pair of runs in the bottom of the first, the score remained the same until the sixth inning when Sacramento State got an insurance run on Nene Alas' sacrifice fly which scored pinch runner Kayla Grubert. The Hornets tacked on another run in the seventh when Graves laced an 0-2 pitch over the left field wall.
Stanford threatened in the seventh inning, loading the bases with one out. However, Sperry got No. 5 hitter Hannah Howell and No. 6 hitter Emily Young to both bounce out and end the game. Dwyer (9-4) picked up the loss for the Cardinal, allowing nine hits and four runs (three earned) over five innings. Graves' homer came against Kiana Pancino who worked the final two innings in relief. Bowers and Graves both finished with a pair of hits while Alas, Rasmussen, Suzy Brookshire, Alondra Mejia, Sydnee Strong and Katie Vretzos also had hits.
Sacramento State lost in heartbreaking fashion in the first game as the Hornets had scored three runs in the top of the seventh inning to take a 7-5 lead. In that seventh frame, Mejia had an RBI-single as well as Kailie Hargis as the Hornets appeared primed to win their first game over a nationally ranked opponent in nearly 10 years. However, Stanford got three singles, a walk, and another single (without an out being recorded) in the bottom of the seventh, and the game ended on Kristina Inouye's walkoff base hit.
Sacramento State took a 3-1 lead in the third inning as the Hornets scored each run with two outs on a bases loaded walk to Krystal Aubert, followed by a Graves RBI-single and a hit-by-pitch to Rasmussen. However, Stanford scored three times in the fourth inning to go up, 4-3, before Graves' homer tied it in the fifth.
Savanna Corr worked the first 3.2 innings, and Jensen Main got the loss in relief, throwing the final 2.1 innings. Stanford used three pitchers in the game, and both Lee (2.2 ip, 3 h, 3 r) and Pancino (3.2 ip, 5 h, 4 r) were not effective. It was Dwyer who got the win in relief, allowing two hits while recording the final two outs of the seventh.
Bowers finished 3-for-5 while Graves and Hargis both had two hits.
Sacramento State will jump back into Big Sky Conference play later this week when it hosts a three-game series against Montana. The two teams will play a doubleheader on Friday at noon, followed by a single game on Saturday at noon.
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