SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. – Junior Brennan Leitao pitched the Hornets to a 6-2 win over San Francisco in the first game on Sunday and Sacramento State had a 5-0 lead in game two before six Hornet errors contributed to a nine-run rally by USF to earn a split with a 9-5 win in game two in San Francisco.
Leitao allowed just two runs on seven hits through six innings and the Hornet bats came alive early on in game one. Redshirt freshman Ryan Locke, starting as the designated hitter against USF lefty Christian Cecilio, launched his first career home run in the first hitting, a 2-run shot that gave the Hornets the early lead.
The Hornets added a third run in the third inning on an RBI single from sophomore Chris Lewis, but the Dons got the run back in the home half of the frame on an RBI single from Bradley Zimmer. In the sixth, Leitao's final inning, the Dons scored on a 2-out double by Ryan Matranga to cut the Sacramento State lead to 3-2.
Sacramento State picked up three big insurance runs in the seventh inning. The visitors had runners on the corners with one away when Locke delivered again, driving a double to left to score sophomore Nathan Lukes. Freshman Brandon Hunley then followed with an RBI single to drive home Locke and Lewis and give the Hornets a 6-2 lead.
Hornet junior reliever Alex Palsha pitched the final three innings of the game, allowing no runs with just one hit and one walk, to finish the win and pick up his first career save.
Freshman Jared Paderez put together the best start of his young career in game two, lasting five innings and allowing just one run on three hits with two strikeouts. He departed with a lead after more early offense by the Hornets, as the visitors pushed two runs across in the first inning on an RBI single by junior Rhys Hoskins.
Sacramento State added a pair of runs in the third inning as a sacrifice fly from Lewis drove home Locke and an ensuing RBI single from senior Will Soto brought home Hoskins, who was at it again in fifth inning and launched his first home run of the season to put the Hornets ahead 5-0.
San Francisco got one run in the bottom of the fifth and the floodgates opened in the sixth. With runners on second and third Hoskins misplayed a ground ball to first that allowed two runs to score, then with two outs and men on second and third Zimmer brought home two more runs with a single.
The Dons added four more runs in the seventh off three hits and two more Hornet errors, with all three of the San Francisco hits in the inning bringing home runs, three of which were unearned. Sacramento State was limited to just two hits over the last three innings of play as San Francisco earned the win to take the series.
Hoskins finished 4-for-4 in the second game after not seeing action in game one while Soto had two hits in the game. Locke, Lukes, and junior Kyle Moses each finished with three hits on the day but as a team the Hornets totaled nine errors over the two games. Starters Leitao and Paderez combined to allow just three runs over 11 innings pitched with seven strikeouts.
Sacramento State moved to 6-6 on the year while San Francisco is now 5-6. The Hornets play their second of seven games this season at Raley Field on Wednesday, hosting Fresno State at 6:35 p.m.