EDINBURG, Texas – In a weather-induced double-header, Hornet freshman Sam Long pitched seven shutout innings in the resumption of Friday night's contest to lead the Hornets to a 3-1 win before UTPA junior Alex English tossed a four-hit shutout in Saturday's scheduled game as the Broncs won 2-0 and the squads split the two contests.
In a pair of pitching duels the teams combined to score just two earned runs over the two games. Texas-Pan American (23-28, 13-10 WAC) hitters were 4-for-51 (.078) with 10 strikeouts and just four walks over the two games but managed to score three runs. Sacramento State (32-19, 18-5 WAC) tallied nine hits in the first game but only four in the nightcap while getting shut out for just the third time this season.
Junior Brennan Leitao started and pitched two innings on Friday before the game was called, with UTPA senior Alex Howe diving in a first-inning run to give the home team a 1-0 lead heading in to the resumption of the contest on Saturday. Long got the quasi-start on Saturday and was brilliant over seven scoreless innings, facing the minimum number of batters after the only hit he gave up, a one-out single in the third inning, was erased on a caught stealing.
Broncs' righty Sam Street, who entered Friday's start tied for the NCAA lead at 11-0 with a 1.63 ERA, continued on the mound when the game resumed on Saturday and went the distance, allowing nine hits and three unearned runs to take his first loss of the year in 12 starts.
The Hornets did all of their damage in the seventh inning, sending seven men to the plate and scoring three unearned runs. Senior Will Soto reached on an error to open the inning, and with men on first and second with one away redshirt freshman Ryan Locke had a pinch hit single to score the first Sacramento State run.
Freshman Brandon Hunley was then robbed on a diving catch by UTPA leftfielder Shane Ammon, but pinch runner Scott Loper tagged and came home from third on the play to put the Hornets up 2-1. Locke would advance to second on a balk and then score on a bloop double to right from junior Kyle Moses.
Long set down the final 19 batters he faced in order to finish off the win and give Street his first loss in exactly one year to the day. Long had seven strikeouts and no walks and, combined with two innings worked on Friday night by Leitao, the duo totaled 10 strikeouts and no walks.
Redshirt freshman Justin Dillon moved up from his normal Sunday-starting role to get the nod in the second game on Saturday and was sharp, allowing just two runs (one earned) on two hits and four walks over six innings. Freshman Chad Perry threw two perfect innings to keep the game close, but English worked out of some trouble in the late innings for his third shutout of the season.
Dillon issued a two-out walk and hit a batter in the bottom of the first to put a man in scoring position, and the Broncs capitalized with an RBI single from second baseman Bryan Ramirez. English took a no-hitter into the sixth inning before a two-out bunt-single by Hornet sophomore Nathan Lukes, who would be stranded at second.
UTPA added an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth. Following a leadoff double, a walk, and a sacrifice to put men on second and third with one away, Dillon got a groundout back to the mound for the second out. He then got a groundball to third that was bobbled briefly by Hornet senior Will Soto, allowing the speedy Ammon to reach base and for a run to score from third.
The Hornets got two men on with two away in the eighth but did not score, and English worked around a leadoff walk in the ninth to finish the complete-game shutout on 118 pitches.
Sacramento State totaled 13 hits over the two games, but 11 of the hits were singles and the squad left 13 runners on base, including seven in the second game. No UTPA player had more than one hit over the two games and the Broncs' pitchers recorded only four strikeouts but issued just two walks without allowing an earned run.
The rubber game of the series, which will be the final road game of the regular season for the Hornets, is scheduled for 11 a.m. Pacific time on Sunday.