SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Parker Brahms continued his dominant start to the 2018 season Saturday night, striking out a career-high 12 over seven innings. Unfortunately, the start wasn't enough to lift the Hornets as they dropped their third straight, 4-3 in 10 innings against Santa Clara.
Brahms, who entered Saturday night's contest riding a 21.0 inning scoreless streak to start the 2018 campaign, looked as good as ever in the early going for Sacramento State. After a leadoff walk to start the game, the sophomore right-hander settled in, retiring 11 of the next 12 he faced. That stretch included a series of five straight strikeouts, all swinging.
"He's just the ultimate competitor," said head coach Reggie Christiansen after the game. "That was about as good of a performance as he's had in his career."
Brahms found himself in trouble just once after loading the bases in the fifth inning. Santa Clara get two base hits and a hit batter in the inning, but Brahms managed to get to two outs without a runner scoring. It looked like he would escape the jam after coaxing a routine ground ball to shortstop, but Josh Urps's errant throw skipped passed first baseman Vinny Esposito as two Broncos runners came around to score.
The two unearned runs are the first runs of any kind against Brahms this season. His 28.0 innings pitched are far and away the most by a pitcher with a 0.00 ERA in all of NCAA Div. I baseball.
After the long fifth inning, Brahms responded by striking out the side for the second time of the night in the sixth inning and allowed just one hit in the seventh before handing things over to the bullpen.
In total, Brahms threw 105 pitches (79 strikes) over seven innings. He allowed just four hits, two runs (none earned), walked one, and struck out a career-high 12. His pervious high was nine strikeouts, set last season against Northern Kentucky.
The Hornets offense gave their ace an early lead, scoring twice in the third inning thanks to two Santa Clara errors. Both runs were unearned, making the game's first four runs all unearned. Saturday night was also the fifth straight game in which the Hornets scored first. Despite getting early leads, Sacramento State is just 1-4 over that stretch.
After Santa Clara tied it in the fifth, Sacramento State managed to push across one more run in the bottom of the eighth inning. Playing small ball, the Hornets used a base hit, a sacrifice bunt, an infield single, and a sacrifice fly to take a 3-2 lead.
That lead was short-lived as Santa Clara scored one more of their own in the top of the ninth to tie the game and force extra innings. In the top of the 10th, Santa Clara's home run leader Jake Brodt smashed a solo shot off the parking structure in right field to give the Broncos the 4-3 lead and the win.
By going to extra innings for a fifth time this season, Sacramento State has now played more extra-inning contests than any other team in the nation. They came into Saturday night's game tied with Oklahoma, Northwestern, and William & Mary all having played four extra-inning games.
The Hornets will look to close out their four-game series against Santa Clara with a win tomorrow. Austin Root (1-1, 2.57) will take the mound for Sacramento State while the Broncos have yet to announce a starter. First pitch is set for 1:00 pm PT.