MESA, Ariz. – In a matchup that few anticipated heading into the 2018 WAC Tournament, the #2 Sacramento State baseball team eliminated the top-seeded Grand Canyon University Thursday afternoon by a final score of 8-2.
The Hornets (33-24) rallied for seven runs in the fifth inning to take a commanding 8-0 lead over the Lopes (33-24). Sacramento State showed an excellent approach at the plate, being patient and working good at-bats. The approach paid off as the team drew five walks in their seven-run inning.
Matt Smith opened the door on the scoring, smashing a two-run double to left field. It was the second two-run double of the afternoon for Smith, who also had one in Friday morning's 17-3 rout of CSU Bakersfield.
James Outman followed Smith's double with a two-run double of his own, an opposite field shot into the left-field corner. After Vinny Esposito drew the fourth walk of the inning, PJ Floyd brought both Outman and Esposito home with a stand-up triple.
The final run of the inning came on the next batter as Andrew McWilliam hit a deep sacrifice fly to straight away center field to score Floyd.
Sacramento State scored their first run of the game in the bottom of the third inning on a RBI fielder's choice by Keith Torres. It was the second time in two Friday games that the Hornets scored first. For the season, Sacramento State is now 26-10 when scoring the game's first run.
Although most of the damage came in one inning, it was another excellent showing by the Hornets' offense. As impressive as the offense was, however, the outing by freshman starter Scott Randall was just as, if not more, impressive.
In an elimination game against the #1 seeded Grand Canyon, Randall put together the best start of his career, allowing just one run on six hits over a career-high eight innings of work.
Randall only struck out two, but he walked just one and kept the Lopes batters off balance all afternoon, mixing his pitches and inducing 14 ground ball outs over his eight innings. Grand Canyon had just three runners advance to second or third base with their one run against him coming in the sixth inning. Grand Canyon added a second run with a solo home run in the ninth inning, but it was far too late for the Lopes.
Through three games, Sacramento State starters (Parker Brahms, Austin Root, and Randall) have combined to throw 23 innings, needing just two innings (one from Austin Roberts on Thursday and one from Dalton tonight) from the bullpen. The trio has allowed just four earned runs through those three games, good for a 1.56 ERA.
With the win, Sacramento State staves off elimination for another day while eliminating the number one seed Grand Canyon Antelopes. The Hornets won their two games Friday by a combined score of 25-5 while totaling 24 hits.
The Hornets will play again next tomorrow, Saturday, May 26 against either New Mexico State or Seattle U. First pitch for tomorrow's game is scheduled for 3:00 pm PT.