NORMAL, Ill. – Sacramento State (23-13, 9-3 WAC) went head-to-head with the Missouri Valley Conference-leading Illinois State Redbirds (22-15, 5-1 MVC), but came up just one run short, falling 2-1, Wednesday in Normal, Illinois.
Dylan McPhillips, starting Wednesday as Sacramento State's designated hitter, put the Hornets on the board with a solo home run in the top of the fifth inning. The blast was the first of the season for McPhillips and gave Sacramento State a 1-0 lead.
That lead was short lived, however, as Illinois State answered with a go-ahead two-run home run in the home half of the fifth inning.
That was all the scoring for either team on Wednesday, as both pitching staffs worked quickly and effectively in the midweek matchup.
For the Hornets, that started with freshman Evan Gibbons, who made just his second start (third appearance) of the season. Despite a single and a walk, Gibbons kept the Redbirds off the board for a scoreless first inning.
Travis Adams followed, throwing two shutout frames, giving up just one hit and one walk while striking out three. Connor Sparks followed with another scoreless inning in the fourth, walking one and striking out another.
Travis Martizia was next, taking over in the bottom of the fifth inning with Sacramento State up, 1-0, after the McPhillips home run. After giving up a single, Illinois State's John Rave tagged Martizia for the go-ahead blast.
In total, Hornets pitchers held an Illinois State offense that came into Wednesday's game hitting .292 to just five hits. The Redbirds average nearly seven runs a game, but were held to just two on Wednesday.
At the plate, Keith Torres collected two hits, going 2-for-4. Matt Smith extended his hitting streak to 11 games with a single to right field to lead off the sixth. During his streak, Smith is hitting .489 (22-for-45) with a .582 on-base percentage and an .889 slugging percentage. He has four doubles, a triple, and four home runs in that stretch.
Sacramento State had chances to tie the game, putting two runners on to start the sixth and again two runners on in the top of the ninth, but was unable to convert on the late opportunities.
Martizia was saddled with the loss, just his first of the season, as he dropped to 2-1 on the year. For Illinois State, Mitch Vogrin (2-0) earned the win while Jacob Gilmore recorded his seventh save of the year.
Wednesday's game at Illinois State is the first of four games in four days for the Hornets, as they open a three-game conference series tomorrow, Thursday, April 18, at Chicago State. With Easter Sunday this weekend, the series begins tomorrow and ends Saturday, April 20.
The Hornets remain tied for first in the WAC, their 9-3 conference record even with New Mexico State and UTRGV. They will have a chance to add to that win total this weekend at Chicago State, who comes into the weekend with a 10-23 overall record and a 5-7 conference mark.
First pitch tomorrow is scheduled for a 3 pm CT/1 pm PT start. The game will stream live online on the WAC Digital Network as well as on HornetSports.com/Radio.
For more details on this weekend's conference series and on all upcoming games, be sure to visit the 2019 Hornet Baseball Schedule online at HornetSports.com.