SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Four Hornet pitchers combined to allow just one run on seven hits and senior David Del Grande reached base four times and scored twice to lead Sacramento State to a 3-1 win over Northern Colorado on Sunday.
The Hornets (12-11, 3-0 WAC) won their fourth consecutive game and completed a series sweep of Northern Colorado (5-19, 0-3 WAC), which was limited to just four runs over the three-game set.
"Starting 3-0 is great; their guy on the mound did a great job keeping us off balance and on a day like today you feel fortunate to get the win," head coach Reggie Christiansen said. "It's a credit to our guys for finding a way to win it. We talk about winning the series every weekend and getting the first one is a good start."
Northern Colorado senior starter Chris Hammer was superb, going the full eight innings and striking out nine Hornet batters while allowing just three runs and seven hits. He threw 116 pitches and went the distance after the Bears used nine pitchers over the first two games of the series.
Sacramento State's four pitchers matched Hammer pitch-for-pitch as Dallas Chadwick got the start and allowed just one run through 2.2 innings. Freshman Jared Paderez went 1.1 innings and junior Alex Palsha allowed just one hit over three scoreless frames.
Sophomore closer Sutter McLoughlin threw a perfect eighth inning before running into some trouble in the ninth. Northern Colorado junior Brandon Vaughn doubled to lead off the inning followed by a hit by pitch. A wild pitched moved the runners to second and third with nobody out, but McLoughlin came back to strike out Bryan Tibbits and get a pop out to second base. He walked the next Bear hitter to load the bases but got junior Ryan Yamane to pop out to third to end the game.
The Hornet pitchers benefited from strong defense behind them throughout the game, most notably when junior Kyle Moses robbed Vaughn of a solo homerun in the fourth as he made a leaping catch over the left field wall. Palsha got the win to improve to 3-0 and McLoughlin recorded his seventh save while extending his scoreless streak to 23 innings dating back to last season.
Del Grande had a one out single in the first inning and came around to score on an RBI double from sophomore Nathan Lukes. A two-out RBI single by Northern Colorado DH Nick Miller tied the game in the third inning to chase Chadwick.
The Hornets regained the lead following consecutive singles by Del Grande and Lukes and a sacrifice fly from junior Rhys Hoskins in the sixth and added an insurance run on a solo homerun from freshman Brandon Hunley in the eighth.
Sacramento State hit .396 over the three game series with four homeruns and 28 runs scored with a .491 on-base percentage. The Hornet pitchers had a 1.44 ERA in the series with a .207 opponent batting average while allowing just four runs.
The Hornets have two midweek games against Air Force scheduled over the next three days, facing the Falcons at 6:35 p.m. Tuesday at Raley Field and at 3:00 p.m. Wednesday at John Smith Field.