Photos Courtesy Darryl Webb/WAC
MESA, Ariz. – Sacramento State permitted just four CSU Bakersfield hits and completed a sweep of four games in the WAC Tournament with a 5-0 win over the Roadrunners to win the 2017 WAC Tournament Saturday night in Mesa, Ariz.
Sacramento State (32-27) earns the WAC's automatic bid to the 2017 NCAA Regionals. The Hornets will learn their NCAA Tournament destination when the field is announced at 9 a.m. Monday on ESPN2. The No. 3 seed for the conference tournament, Sacramento State earned wins on four consecutive days, beating second-seeded CSU Bakersfield (32-24) twice.
"About six weeks ago we were not in a very good spot," Sacramento State head coach Reggie Christiansen said. "This is a great group of kids; the seniors (especially) Trent Goodrich and Kody Reynolds, those two guys really carried us down the stretch. I'm really proud of this team."
Senior Justin Dillon was named tournament MVP. He pitched five shutout innings on short rest on Saturday, allowing just one hit and one walk with six strikeouts. In two starts in Mesa Dillon was 2-0 and allowed just one run on six hits with 12 strikeouts over 12 innings.
Reynolds, Goodrich, junior Andrew McWilliam, and sophomore James Outman also made the all-tournament team. Reynolds hit .533 with two home runs and 10 RBIs in the four games while Outman hit three homers and drove in seven. Goodrich hit .353 with six RBIs, including his first home run as a Hornet on Saturday, and McWilliam hit .308.
The Hornets won the WAC Tournament for the second time in the last four seasons. The 2014 team won the first WAC Tournament title in program history and made the program's first appearance in the Div. I NCAA Regionals. The Hornets played in the San Luis Obispo regional and defeated No. 18 Arizona State for their 40th win of the season. Sacramento State qualified for the NCAA Div. II regionals four times, reaching the Div. II College World Series in 1986 and 1988.
On Saturday night the Hornets met CSU Bakersfield for the second time in the regional after the Roadrunners eliminated Northern Colorado with an 8-5 win earlier Saturday. Sacramento State had already defeated CSUB on Thursday, 10-6.
The first two Roadrunner hitters reached base in the top of the first but Dillon got a double play ball and a strikeout to get out of the inning. The Hornets left two runners aboard in the bottom half but in the second PJ Floyd singled, moved to second on a groundout, and scored on a Ricky Martinez RBI single.
After a one-out walk in the top of the third inning Dillon retired the last eight batters he faced without a ball leaving the infield. The Hornets doubled their lead in the fifth as Ian Dawkins had a leadoff single, Goodrich reached on a fielding error, and Reynolds brought in Dawkins with a two-out single.
Reynolds was at it again in the seventh inning, singling home Vinny Esposito after he walked and stole second. Martinez had a one-out double in the eighth and Goodrich hammered his first Sacramento State home run to deep left to push the lead to 5-0.
After two scoreless innings from Tanner Olson, Austin Root put up a zero in the eighth inning. In the ninth, Root got Andrew Penner to ground out and, after a single from David Metzgar, induced a double play groundout by Mahlik Jones to end the game.
The Hornets scored five runs on 11 hits while allowing just four CSUB singles. Reynolds was 3-for-4 with two RBIs, his third multi-RBI game of the tournament. Esposito and Martinez also had two hits. Dawkins has now reached base in 22 consecutive games and Goodrich extended his career-long hitting streak to 11 games.
Sacramento State hit .333 in the tournament with seven home runs, 11 doubles, and two triples, outscoring their opponents 36-8. The pitching staff had a 2.12 ERA, more than two runs better than any other team in the tournament, and had a .226 opposing batting average.
Dillon became just the sixth pitcher in program history to top 100 strikeouts in a season, as he now has 103 this year. As a team Hornet pitchers have set a new Div. I program record with 402 strikeouts this season, topping the previous high of 395 with eight punch outs on Saturday. The program record of 423 strikeouts was set in 1988.