SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Hornet junior first baseman Rhys Hoskins drove home sophomore Nathan Lukes with an infield single in the bottom of the ninth inning to give Sacramento State a 5-4 walk-off victory over Utah on Sunday in game three of a four game series.
Hoskins, who was looking for his first hit of the young season, came to the plate with men on second and third and one out in the ninth. He laced a grounder to third base that was knocked down on a dive by Utah's Cody Scaggari but his throw home was too late as Lukes slid in safely with the winning run.
The play ended a wild game in which Utah (1-2) and Sacramento state (2-1) combined for 25 hits and nine runs after the teams totaled just 24 hits and eight runs through the first two games of the series. The Hornets jumped on Utah sophomore pitcher Dalton Carroll early, scoring runs on a David Del Grande single in the second inning and RBI hits from Will Soto and Scotty Burcham in the third inning.
Utah scored three times in the top of the fourth to draw even, opening the inning with four consecutive hits followed by a Hornet fielding error and a one-out bases-loaded hit by pitch. Hornet freshman starter Jared Paderez was able to limit the damage, however, getting a pop out and a fielder's choice ground ball to get out of the inning and strand three runners.
The Hornets climbed right back on top in the home half of the fourth inning following consecutive one-out singles and an rbi knock from junior Clay Cederquist to score freshman Brandon Hunley and chase Carroll after just 3 1/3 innings pitched.
The Utah bullpen settled things down from there, and strong Hornet relief work from freshmen Julian Barron and Sterling Humphry got the Hornets to the eighth with a 4-3 lead. The Utes were able to draw even in the eighth, however, following a leadoff double from Tyler Yagi and an RBI single from AJ Young.
A three-strikeout top of the ninth from Hornet closer Sutter McLoughlin gave the home team a chance for a walk off win. Hunley led off the inning with a single to short and Lukes followed with a bunt single as Utah pitcher Luke West slipped trying to field the ball.
Cederquist then attempted to lay down a sacrifice bunt to third and the throw from Scaggari to first pulled Utah second baseman Kody Davis, who was covering first, off the bag and he dropped the ball. With the ball loose Hunley attempted to score from third but was thrown out at the plate, but with Lukes advancing to third on the play Hoskins was then able to bring him home to win the game.
McLoughlin earned the win following his second scoreless inning of the season, having totaled five strikeouts in just two innings. Lukes finished 4-for-5 in the game while Hunley had three hits and a run in his first career start and Burcham had two hits with an RBI and a run. Utah's 3-through-7 hitters each had two hits and combined to hit 10-for-25 in the game.
Paderez went four innings in his collegiate debut, allowing three runs (two earned) on six hits and two walks with two strikeouts. The Hornet bullpen allowed just one run on five hits over five innings with no walks and six strikeouts.
Sacramento State goes for the series win at 1 p.m. Monday with senior Hunter Greenwood expected to face Utah sophomore Brett Helton.