MESA, Ariz. – The Hornets continued to make history on Sunday, winning their sixth straight tournament game, 5-4, over the Grand Canyon Antelopes to claim the 2019 WAC Tournament championship.
Sacramento State (39-23) earns the WAC's automatic bid to the 2019 NCAA Regionals. The Hornets will learn their NCAA Tournament destination when the field is announced on Monday, May 27 at 9 a.m. PT/12 p.m. ET on ESPNU and ESPN+.
The team will host a watch party tomorrow morning at Clubhouse 56 in Sacramento, near the campus of Sacramento State. Doors will open at 8:30. Friends, family, and fans are invited to attend.
The No. 3 seed for the conference tournament, Sacramento State won six straight elimination games in four days, culminating with back-to-back wins over Grand Canyon (36-24) Saturday night and Sunday afternoon.
"I can't describe how much fun it was to be in the dugout with these guys this week and to see them do what they just did," said head coach Reggie Christiansen after the game. "It's honestly kind of a blur. It feels like we've been here for two weeks but it just went so fast and it was so much fun."
The Hornets made WAC history with their postseason run, becoming the first team to ever lose a first round game and come back to win the tournament. They are also the first team to ever eliminate each of the other five teams in the field.
"I've never been a part of anything like this," Christiansen added. "This group of guys and what they did, it's never been done in this conference and it's just unbelievable."
Sacramento State has now won the WAC Tournament three times in the last six seasons, adding the 2019 title to titles in both 2014 and 2017. The 2014 team won the first WAC Tournament championship in program history and made the program's first appearance in the Div. I NCAA Regionals. Sacramento State qualified for the NCAA Div. II regionals four times, reaching the Div. II College World Series in 1986 and 1988.
Sophomore catcher Dawsen Bacho was named the tournament MVP after hitting a team-high .323 with three home runs, two doubles, and eight RBIs. Junior outfielder Matt Smith, junior second baseman Ryan Walstad, and sophomore reliever Travis Martizia were also named to the WAC All-Tournament team.
"We were kind of tight that first game that we lost," Bacho said after Sunday's championship win. "But after we lost, that changed. We kept saying we were playing with house money and we were relaxed, just having fun with it."
On Sunday, it was Steven Moretto starting the scoring for the Hornets, hitting a towering solo home run out to left field in the first. Matt Smith and Bacho followed suit, hitting back-to-back home runs to make it a 3-0 ballgame.
BACK. TO. BACK! Dawsen Bacho joins in on the fun with an opposite-field blast, Hornets now up three. Grand Canyon already headed to the 'pen. #StingersUp #WACbsb #FindAWay— Sac State Baseball (@SacStBaseball) May 26, 2019
T3 | SAC 3, GCU 0 pic.twitter.com/AA5IhW1J8n
Grand Canyon got on the board with a solo home run of their own in the bottom half of the third, but Bronson Grubbs extended the lead with a two-out RBI-single in the sixth, making it 4-1, Hornets.
In the eighth inning, Trevor Doyle hit a sacrifice fly to right to give the Hornets their fifth run of the day.
That fifth run proved to be crucial after Grand Canyon battled back for three runs in the bottom of the eighth. The Lopes fought til the very end, putting the tying run at third base before Austin Roberts got an easy ground ball to first to end the game and lock up the championship.
On the mound for the Hornets, Tanner Dalton was exceptional. The senior closer made his second start of the tournament and threw five innings, holding the Lopes to just one run on two hits and a walk. He struck out four.
Behind Dalton, Brady Rodriguez was equally good on the mound, making his third appearance in as many days. Roberts, also coming on for the third time in as many days, picked up his third save of the tournament
In total this week, Sacramento State played seven games, going 6-1. The Hornets hit .251 with seven home runs, 10 doubles, and a triple, outscoring their opponents 36-24.
Bacho led the team in average, home runs, and RBIs. Keith Torres, despite hitting just .125, posted a .364 OBP and scored a tournament-high eight runs.
The pitching staff had a 2.73 ERA and held opponents to just a .211 batting average against. They struck out 40 and combined to record three saves.
Travis Martizia was responsible for one of those saves while also throwing a tournament-high 10.2 innings. He did not allow a run over three appearances and finished 2-0 with a save.
Sunday's win was number 39 of the year for the Hornets, their highest win total since winning 40 in 2014. Sacramento State finished the 2014 WAC Tournament with 39 wins that season as well before winning their 40th in the NCAA Regional against Arizona State.
For details on what comes next for the Hornets, be sure to stay tuned to HornetSports.com, @SacStBaseball on Twitter, or the all-new Hornet Sports Experience mobile app.