SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Thanks to a strong bullpen performance and timely hitting up and down the lineup, the Sacramento State baseball team got their first season series sweep against UC Davis since 2015 with a 5-2 win Tuesday night at John Smith Field.
The Hornets (27-20, 13-5 WAC) came into tonight's game having already won the first of two matchups against the Aggies (15-28, 7-11 WAC). With a win tonight, they clinched their first season series sweep since 2015 and their fourth since 2012.
The bullpen was lights out for Sacramento State, throwing six shutout innings in relief of spot-starter Ty Fox. Travis Martizia threw 2.1 innings without allowing a run, though he was lifted with one out in the sixth with two men on.
For the second time in the last three games, freshman Brady Rodriguez took the mound with his team in a jam. On Saturday against Seattle U, the lefty inherited a bases-loaded, nobody out situation before getting a strikeout and an inning ending double-play.
Tonight, Rodriguez took over with the Aggies threatening to tie the score or more with two on and one out. After a walk, he got a big swinging strikeout and a lazy fly ball to end the Aggies threat.
"It's definitely tough," said Rodriguez, of his recent situations. "But it's also exciting. You get out there and you've just got to trust your stuff and your defense to get you out of those situations."
"We actually work on these situations a lot in the fall," he added. "And I'd say that has definitely helped."
"We're getting some really good efforts out of Brady and Martizia recently," said head coach Reggie Christiansen. "I was really pleased with the way we pitched tonight."
Although the Hornets fell behind 2-0 in the first, they quickly rallied back to retake the lead. PJ Floyd homered in the home half of the first inning, his ninth of the season, to make it a 2-1 game. In the bottom of the second, Ian Dawkins and James Outman both picked up RBI-singles to give the Hornets a 3-2 lead.
They would hold on to the lead for the rest of the night. Andrew McWilliam made it a 4-2 ballgame with a booming pinch hit home run to left field in the sixth inning while Vinny Esposito knocked in the game's final run with an RBI-single in the seventh.
For Esposito, Tuesday night's start was the senior first baseman's first game since April 21 at CSU Bakersfield as he has battled a left hand injury.
"I was really excited for Vinny, getting that big hit there in that spot," said Christiansen. "I thought Vinny had a good night in his first game back with us."
A senior, Esposito has played in 50 or more games in each of his first three seasons for the Hornets. Prior to missing his first game this year, Esposito had started the first 37 games at first base.
"It's good to have him back," Christiansen added of his senior first baseman. "He has a presence on the field, he's an exceptional defender and we certainly feel good about him being out there."
With the win, the Hornets took both ends of their home-and-home season series against UC Davis, completing the sweep of their Causeway rival for the first time since 2015. Since the 2012 season, Sacramento State has swept the series four times.
The Hornets now own a 27-20 overall record while their 13-5 mark in the WAC remains the same. They'll next take on Grand Canyon University on the road in Arizona. GCU currently leads the WAC with a 14-4 conference record (27-21 overall).
Ranked first and second in the conference, this weekend's series can have a major impact on the final week of the regular season for both teams. Grand Canyon was picked to win the Western Athletic Conference in the coaches preseason poll, receiving five of a possible nine first-place votes.
"We feel pretty confident right now," said Rodriguez of his team. "I think we have a chance to prove some people wrong this weekend and take the series from Grand Canyon and ultimately win the conference."
This weekend's WAC series begins on Friday, May 11 as the Hornets take on the Antelopes. First pitch for Friday is scheduled for 7:00 pm PT, Saturday at 6:00 pm PT, and Sunday at 12:00 pm PT. For more details, please visit the Sacramento State Baseball 2018 schedule online at HornetSports.com.