SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The Sacramento State baseball team came out swinging Saturday afternoon and never let up, defeating the visiting Utah Valley Wolverines, 8-2, on Senior Day at John Smith Field. With the win, the Hornets locked up the No. 2 seed in the WAC Tournament, securing a first round bye.
The Hornets (31-23, 17-7 WAC) took on the Wolverines (15-36, 6-18 WAC) in need of a win in order to have a chance at the No. 2 seed at the WAC Tournament. With that in mind, Sacramento State came out swinging, scoring four runs in the first inning on four hits, including an RBI-double by Matt Smith and another by Andrew McWilliam.
Although Utah Valley countered with two runs of their own in the second inning, that was all they would get against the Hornets pitching staff on the afternoon.
Sacramento State continued to add on, scoring once in the fifth inning on a solo home run by Keith Torres, his third of the year.
In the sixth, the Hornets put up a three-spot, scoring a run on an Ian Dawkins RBI-double and two more on a two-run single by Torres. The sixth-inning rally pushed the score to 8-2, where it would remain as the game went final.
At the top of the lineup, Dawkins and Torres combined to go 5-for-9 with four RBIs and three runs scored. Torres added a home run while Dawkins picked up his team-leading 16th double of the season.
As a team, Sacramento State scored eight runs on 12 hits. It was the 18th time in 54 games that the Hornets had double-digit hits and the 13th time they've scored eight or more runs.
On the mound, Austin Root got the win after coming into the game in the second inning, improving to 9-3 on the season. Austin Roberts, who took over for Root in the fourth, tossed four innings of one-hit ball, walking one and striking out five. With the outing, he lowered his team-leading ERA to an impressive 1.57. He also leads the team with a .178 batting average against.
With the win, Sacramento State clinched the No. 2 seed in the upcoming Western Athletic Conference Tournament. The Hornets entered Saturday afternoon a game behind New Mexico State, but got a little bit of help from UTRGV, who beat New Mexico State, 5-4, with a two-run walk-off home run.
Although the Hornets and New Mexico State end the regular season with identical 17-7 WAC records, Sacramento State holds the tiebreaker, having won the season series against the Aggies back in March.
The No. 2 seed means the Hornets earn a first-round bye. They will start play in the WAC Tournament at Hohokam Stadium in Mesa, Arizona on Thursday, May 24 at 3:00 pm PT.
In addition to numerous postseason implications, Saturday's game also included the celebration of nine graduating Hornets from the Sacramento State baseball program. Sacramento State celebrated nine players who will be graduating this Spring and Summer.
Alex Dentoni, Raul Ortiz, Ty Fox, Andrew McWilliam, Ian Dawkins, PJ Floyd, Austin Ragsdale, Austin Root, and Vinny Esposito were all recognized with a special postgame ceremony on the field. Each player received a framed jersey and their lineup card.
"I'm just really proud of these guys," Christiansen said on Saturday of the team's seniors. "Those are nine guys that have meant a lot to this program and care about this place."
The WAC Tournament will begin Wednesday, May 23rd in Mesa Arizona, but the Hornets won't take the field until Thursday. A full schedule, tournament bracket, travel information, and more is available online at WACsports.com.
All game times, including online radio and video stream information, can be found by visiting the 2018 Sacramento State baseball schedule online at HornetSports.com.