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OFFENSE SCUFFLES IN CONFERENCE OPENER AT NEW MEXICO STATE

OFFENSE SCUFFLES IN CONFERENCE OPENER AT NEW MEXICO STATE

LAS CRUCES, N.M. – The Sacramento State baseball team traveled to Las Cruces, New Mexico to take on the New Mexico State Aggies in their 2018 Western Athletic Conference opener. Despite two early runs, the Hornets bats were unable to keep pace with the high-powered New Mexico offense, falling 8-2 Thursday night.

New Mexico State struck first, tagging Sacramento State starter Scott Randall for two runs in the bottom of the first inning. Randall, who came into the game with a 5.32 ERA, looked like he was going to escape a two-on, two-out situation before a triple gave the Aggies their first runs.

Sacramento State knew they'd have to hit to have a chance against the Aggies, who entered this weekend's series with one of the top-ranking offenses in the entire nation, and early on it looked like they were up to the task.

After falling behind 2-0, the Hornets countered with two runs of their own in the third inning. They had two hits and a walk in the inning with runs scoring on a Matt Smith sacrifice fly and a Vinny Esposito RBI-double.

Despite the early promise, those two hits turned out to be two of just three total base hits for the Hornets in the game. Although they also drew five walks in the game, Sacramento State had just three base runners from the fifth inning on.

New Mexico State, meanwhile, never stopped hitting, scoring six more runs for a total of eight on 11 hits, including two doubles and two triples. Three of their runs came against Randall while another three came against reliever Alex Dentoni. They added two more in the eighth on a two-out, two-run double by New Mexico's leading hitter Mason Fishback against Ty Fox.

Randall pitched just three innings in his seventh start of the season. For the third straight outing, he was followed by Dentoni who, in each of those three appearances, has logged more innings than Randall. He threw four innings tonight. Fox threw just the one.

Entering the game, the junior and senior Sacramento State relievers owned a solid 3.01 ERA, with Dentoni, Fox, Tanner Dalton, Austin Roberts, and Austin Ragsdale combining to allow 24 runs in over 70 innings of work. 

Sacramento State showed great patience at the plate as they went up against Kyle Bradish, the preseason pick to be the WAC Pitcher of the Year. Through the first three innings, the Hornets drew four walks to go with their two hits, working long at bats against Bradish. Although they forced Bradish to throw 115 pitches in six innings, they didn't have any luck against the Aggies bullpen, going hitless in three innings.

Vinny Esposito reached base twice, drawing a walk to go with his RBI-double, as did leadoff man Ian Dawkins, who was 1-for-3 with a walk and a run scored.

The two teams will square off again tomorrow in game two of this three game set. First pitch is set for 5:05 pm PDT. The game will feature Sacramento State's Parker Brahms (1-2, 2.31) against New Mexico State's Justin Dehn (2-2, 5.01). All streaming links are available online at HornetSports.com.