WEST SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Sacramento State freshman second baseman Brandon Hunley broke a tied score with a three-run home run in the bottom of the eighth to lift the Hornets to a 7-4 win over Nevada on Tuesday night at Raley Field. Hunley hit the home run after the previous batter, sophomore Nathan Lukes, was intentionally walked by Nevada reliever Adam Whitt to put runners at the corners with two away.
"I knew he was going to walk him because Nate was having a great night, and when he did it kind of challenged me," Hunley said. "I just wanted to prove him wrong and show them that they made a mistake."
Hunley's blast, the first home run hit by the Hornets this season, came after senior David Del Grande hit an RBI triple to bring the score even at 4-4, as Sacramento State scored the tying and go-ahead runs all with two outs in the bottom of the eighth. Sophomore closer Sutter McLoughlin then came on in the ninth and set the Wolf Pack down in order with two strikeouts for his fourth save of the season.
"We can play with anybody, there's no question about it," said head coach Reggie Christiansen as his team already has wins this season over Pac-12 and SEC teams and is 2-0 against schools from the Mountain West. "We're a resilient group; this was the second time in the last few days that we scored late in the game to tie it or go ahead. These guys don't quit."
Freshman Sam Long, who like Hunley graduated high school early to join the Hornets this spring, went six innings in his second collegiate start and allowed three runs on seven hits and one walk. Nevada starter Barry Timko lasted just 3.1 innings, surrendering two runs and six hits.
The Hornets took an early 2-0 lead on a 2-run double by senior Will Soto in the third inning. The Wolf Pack got one run in the fifth off consecutive 2-out doubles and scored two in the sixth off three this and a Hornet error. Sacramento State came back with a run on a Scotty Burcham ground out in the bottom of the sixth to bring the score even.
In the top of the seventh Nevada loaded the bases with two away and pushed in the go-ahead run on a wild pitch. Senior Clay Cederquist then opened the bottom of the eighth with a single but he advanced only to second base with two outs before the Del Grande triple and Hunley home run pushed the Hornets to a victory.
Junior Alex Palsha got the win for the Hornets in relief, throwing two innings and allowing just two hits and one unearned run. Whitt was charged with all four runs over an inning and a third and took the loss as the sixth Nevada reliever.
Lukes finished 3-for-4 with a walk and a run while Hunley had two hits with three RBIs and two runs scored. Cederquist, Del Grande, and redshirt freshman Ryan Locke also had two hits apiece as the Hornets out-hit the Wolf Pack 13-9.
The game was the first of seven Hornet midweek games to be played at Raley Field this season. Sacramento State is scheduled to host San Francisco at 2 p.m. Friday at John Smith Field and then play at San Francisco on Saturday and Sunday. With rain in the forecast for Friday, the series schedule may be altered.