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April 14, 2013

LUKES' TRIPLE HELPS BASEBALL TO SERIES VICTORY AT NEW MEXICO STATE

LAS CRUCES, N.M. — Nathan Lukes' bases-loaded triple kick started Sacramento State's four-run seventh inning  and lifted the team to a 6-4 victory at New Mexico State on Sunday afternoon.

With the win, the Hornets improved to 21-15 overall and 7-5 in Western Athletic Conference play. The team has now won six of its last seven and nine of its last 11 games. It also won a series (2-1) at New Mexico State for the first time since 2007.

Sacramento State gave up two runs in the first inning on a Tanner Rust home run before tying the game with a run in the second and fourth. The first Hornet run scored when Chris Lewis came home on a Will Soto sacrifice fly. Lewis started the inning with a single through the left side of the infield to extend his on-base safely streak to 27 games and his hit streak to a team season-long 13 games. Lewis scored his second run in the fourth inning on a wild pitch.

NMSU (19-17, 5-7) retook the lead, 3-2, in the bottom of the fourth inning on a solo home run from Kent Blackstone.

Brandon Creel relieved starter Zach Morgan in the fifth inning and did not allow a hit while facing just one over the minimum in two innings of work. His efforts kept the score at 3-2 until the seventh when the Hornets surged ahead with four runs.

Scotty Burcham led off with a single and immediately moved to second when Dane Fujinaka was hit on the first pitch of his at-bat. Following a pitching change, Andrew Ayers was called upon to sacrifice but the ball was thrown away by the Aggie pitcher and loaded the bases. Lukes then emptied the bags with a triple down the right field line to give the team its first lead of the day. Lewis later added a sacrifice fly to score Lukes.

"Chris and Nathan have been playing like this for a while," Sacramento State head coach Reggie Christiansen said of his hot-hitting freshman. "It is a long season and they've kept us in it. I'm excited to put it all together down the stretch."

Tanner Mendonca pitched the seventh inning and but himself in a tough spot by walking the first two batters he faced. After getting Rust to ground into a 4-6-3 double play Parker Hipp singled. Hunter Greenwood was then called upon to close the inning but instead loaded the bases with a pair of walks before a fly out squashed the rally.

Freshman closer Sutter McLoughlin earned his ninth save of the year, and fifth in the last two weeks, with two perfect innings. The Rio Americano HS graduate struck out three of the six batters he faced.

Lukes, Burcham and Justin Higley each had two hits to tie for the team high during the day.

Sacramento State will next play a three-game series at Texas-San Antonio beginning on Friday.

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