EDINBURG, Texas – A costly two-out error in the bottom of the sixth inning turned into a game-defining moment as the Sacramento State baseball team fell to UT Rio Grande Valley, 7-6, Saturday night.
Leading 5-4 in the bottom of the sixth, the Hornets (23-18, 10-4 WAC) and reliever Austin Roberts found themselves with one out and UTRGV (21-22, 6-8) runners on second a third. After getting the second out of the inning with a strikeout, Roberts coaxed a lazy pop up to shallow left field. Shortstop Keith Torres back-peddled to the spot and then in a rare occurrence, dropped the would be third out as both runners came around to score.
The two-run error gave the Vaqueros a 6-5 lead that they would not relinquish, ultimately defeating the Hornets, 7-6.
It was just the fifth error of the season for Torres, who has handled the shortstop position well after shifting over from second base early in the season.
Although that one play was a clear turning point in the game, the Hornets struggled to hold on to another lead earlier in the game. After jumping ahead 2-0 in the second inning, Sacramento State and their starter Parker Brahms saw that lead evaporate in a three-run UTRGV second inning.
It was a mixed start overall for Brahms, who, although he struck out 10 in 5.1 innings, also allowed five runs (four earned) on six hits and three walks. After walking just five batters in his first seven games (35.0 innings), he has walked 13 in his last five games (30.1 innings).
Although the Vaqueros outscored the Hornets, 7-6, Sacramento State actually outhit UTRGV, 12-10. Every starter for Sacramento State recorded a hit, including multi-hit games for Ian Dawkins, PJ Floyd, and Bronson Grubbs (two each).
Both Grubbs and Dawkins added an RBI to their line, each driving in one in the Hornets' two-run second.
In the third, Steven Moretto tied the game at three with his sixth home run of the season, a solo shot deep to left field. For a time, Moretto, a true freshman, led the team in home runs, but it had been 13 games since his last long ball. His six homers are second on the club behind Floyd and James Outman (seven).
Dawkins knocked in another run in the fourth, doubling home catcher Dylan McPhillips, before Torres brought home Grubbs with a sacrifice fly.
Sacramento State didn't score again until the ninth when Josh Urps hit a sacrifice fly to score Matt Smith. Urps, who has started the last four games for the Hornets, has at least one RBI in all four of those games, brining his total this season to 11.
Saturday night's loss snaps Sacramento State's four game win streak and brings their overall record this season to 23-18. They remain in second place in the WAC, falling to 10-4 on the season. The Hornets had a chance to move into a tie for first as the league-leading GCU Antelopes lost tonight, but were unable to capitalize.
Sacramento State will look to keep their conference series win streak alive as they take on UTRGV in the series finale tomorrow. Dating back to last season, the Hornets have won six straight conference series, either by sweep or by taking two-of-three.
They'll look for the win behind starting pitcher Austin Root (6-3, 2.4), who will make his 11th start of the season tomorrow against the Vaqueros. First pitch for tomorrow is scheduled for 10:00 am PT. Catch all the action by visiting the Sacramento State baseball 2018 schedule on HornetSports.com.