SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Sacramento State (10-7) came back from a 4-0 deficit Friday night to defeat the visiting Rider Broncs (5-10) at John Smith Field, 5-4. The win is the Hornets' sixth straight.
Sacramento State fell behind early on Friday as the Broncs jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first against starter Parker Brahms. Battling an illness, Brahms managed just two innings before giving way to the bullpen.
"You have to applaud him (Parker) for giving us his best on his scheduled night," said head coach Reggie Christiansen of his ace. "But he just wasn't feeling very well and we had to make the change."
Brahms was replaced by lefty Brady Rodriguez, who threw five innings of one-run ball out of the bullpen for Sacramento State, picking up his second win of the season.
"Brady came in and really kept us in that ballgame," said Christiansen. "He was really good for us tonight."
"Coming in with the team behind, I knew my job was to keep the game close," said Rodriguez. "I also knew I needed to go at least a few innings, so the focus was trying to pitch to contact and let my defense work."
Rodriguez picked up his second win of the season, throwing five innings and allowing just one run on three hits and a walk. He also struck out four.
For the offense, things got off to a slow start against the Broncs' ace, Pete Soporowski, but they took advantage of Rider miscues and timely hits in the third to get on the board with three runs, making it a 4-3 game.
"Our offense did a good job eventually knocking Soporowski out of the game," said Christiansen. "He was really very good, one of the better pitchers we've faced all year.
"We had to drive that pitch out up, have patient at bats, and we did that."
The Broncs went to their bullpen in the seventh with Soporowski over 100 pitches and holding onto a 4-3 lead.
The Hornets wasted no time in taking advantage of the change. Evan Gibbons drew a walk and advanced to third on back-to-back groundouts. Pinch hitter Griffin McCormick tied the game, driving in Gibbons with a perfectly placed ground ball between third base and shortstop.
After Martin Vincelli-Simard singled, a wild pitch by Rider's reliever skipped well away from the catcher, allowing McCormick to score all the way from second for the game-winner.
"Gotta give our guys credit for sticking with it tonight," added Christiansen. "Our offense has been scuffling some so far and it's just about finding ways to manufacture runs. They did that tonight."
Friday's win is Sacramento State's sixth consecutive victory. The streak is the team's longest since winning seven straight from March 30 through April 8 of last season.
Friday was also the first of three games during which the Hornets will take the field wearing specialty throwback jerseys reminiscent of 1960's Sacramento State baseball and a tribute to longtime head coach Cal Boyes.
"I think they turned out really good," said Christiansen of the new threads. "The idea was to serve as a tribute to Cal Boyes and what his guys wore in the 60's. We're really excited to have some of the former players out this weekend, including the '61 team throwing out a first pitch on Sunday."
"Everybody in the clubhouse loves the jerseys," added Rodriguez with a smile. "We're all hoping that if we win a few more games you'll see these jerseys more often."
Sacramento State will have a chance to extend their win streak to seven when they take on Rider in game two of this three-game weekend set tomorrow, Saturday, March 16 at John Smith Field. First pitch is scheduled for 3:00 pm. More details on tomorrow's game and all upcoming Hornets baseball games can be found online at HornetSports.com by visiting the 2019 Sacramento State baseball homepage.