SACRAMENTO, Calif. — David Del Grande scored from third on a wild pitch in the bottom of the ninth inning to give Sacramento State a 3-2 win over San Jose State on Sunday at John Smith Field.
The victory gave the Hornets the series win and improved the team to 32-20 overall and 14-10 in Western Athletic Conference games. The Spartans dropped to 15-36, 9-15.
The Hornets struck first with a two-run home run from Chris Lewis, his fourth of the season, in the first inning. Those runs would be the last scored by the team until the ninth as SJSU starter D.J. Slaton was able to hold Sacramento State in check despited allowing 10 hits in 8+ innings on the mound.
Tanner Mendonca was equally as good for the Hornets. The junior matched his season high after lasting 8.0 innings with five hits and two earned runs. Mendonca walked only one with five strikeouts.
"He stayed competitive the whole time and threw a lot of strikes," Sacramento State head coach Reggie Christiansen said. "We talked about sending him back out there for the ninth but he was at 102 pitches and has to go on a day shorter rest this week. Its probably the best he's pitched all year."
After scoring a run in the second without a hit, SJSU tied the game in the seventh behind a leadoff triple to right center from Jacob Valdez and a single to center from Nick Schulz.
The Spartans's best chance to take the lead came in the eighth when Matt Carroll singled to left. Michael Gerlach tried to score from second but was gunned down at the plate by Justin Higley to end the inning.
Del Grande led off the ninth with a single up the middle and after Slaton was replaced by Kalei Contrades, Scotty Burcham doubled down the left field line. Dane Fujinaka then battled back from an 0-2 count to draw a walk but the final pitch of the at bat made its way to the backstop allowing Del Grande to score.
Lewis went 3-for-4 to lead a group of four Hornets who had multiple hits in the game. Kyle Moses, Del Grande and Burcham each had two.
Brandon Creel pitched the ninth inning to earn his eighth victory of the season (8-3). Creel is now tied with Brennan Leitao for the team lead.
The team's victory surpassed last season's win total of 31 and is the most by a Sacramento State team since the 2003 team went 33-24. The Hornets also guaranteed themselves a spot the WAC Tournament later this month. The team is currently tied with Texas State for third place in the league standings but is just one game behind UT Arlington for second. Sacramento State will host UTA in a regular season-ending three-game series beginning on Thursday at John Smith Field. Prior to that action, the Hornets will play at Pacific on Tuesday at 6 p.m.