SACRAMENTO, Calif. — David Del Grande, Nathan Lukes and Scott Loper sparked a revamped Sacramento State lineup with two hits apiece to lead the Hornets to a 6-2 win over Minnesota on Saturday afternoon at John Smith Field. The victory evened the three-game series at one game each.
Sacramento State (8-10) inserted four new starters in to the lineup and moved a fifth to a different position from a day ago. The results helped the team snap a four-game skid in which it scored just one run in each contest as the Hornets collected eight hits and took advantage of three Golden Gopher errors.
Freshman Sam Long pitched six innings and scattered seven hits and two runs to improve to 2-0 on the season. The Del Campo HS product also dropped his ERA to 2.62 on the year in 24.0 innings of work.
"He's been unbelievable" Sacramento State head coach Reggie Christiansen said. "To go out there for six innings and compete how he did at just 18 years old is incredible. There were a lot of things that didn't go right behind him and it didn't change him. He's a tough kid."
After Alex Palsha sat down the side in order in the seventh, sophomore Sutter McLoughlin closed out the contest with two scoreless innings to earn his fifth save of the season.
Sacramento State scored the first run of the game when Del Grande came home on a double to left center from Lukes. Minnesota immediately tied the game in its next at-bat as Tony Skjefte pated Michael Handel with a sacrifice fly.
The Hornets took the lead for good in the bottom of the third with a two-out rally which began on a double down the left field line by Del Grande. Lukes then drove a ball up the middle to score a run and he later came across the plate after a line drive to left by Chris Lewis was mishandled.
The Gophers had a chance to get right back into the game int he fourth inning, loading the bases without an out. A sacrifice fly scored a run before bunt single loaded the bases a second time. Long then forced a ground ball that was hit to third base where Scotty Burcham tagged the bag and threw to first for the double play.
Sacramento State pulled away late in the game with a run in the seventh and two in the eighth.
Among the changes that the Christiansen made to the lineup was placing an entire infield which did not have the same starter in the same position from a day earlier.
"I think a few of our guys needed a day off," he said. "There have been guys pressing and I wasn't pleased about how we went about some things yesterday. This game is a difficult game and we need to have a different attitude when things aren't going our way. I decided to play a few guys who've been great teammates and they responded today."
The series concludes on Sunday at 1 p.m. with Dallas Chadwick (0-1) taking the mound for the Hornets against Ben Meyer (0-1).