CEDAR CITY, Utah — After Sacramento State had scored three times in the seventh inning to tie the game at 5-5, Southern Utah strung together three straight two-out hits in the eighth to beat the Hornets, 6-5, in the rubber game of a three-game Big Sky Conference series Saturday afternoon at Kathryn Berg Field.
With the loss, Sacramento State, which won the first game of the series, 8-0, in mercy rule fashion, dropped the final two games of the series. That included a 3-1 loss yesterday. The Hornets are now 18-15 overall and 3-3 in the conference as the Big Sky is sponsoring softball for the first time ever this season. Southern Utah improved to 11-26 and 5-4 in the league.
During the three-game series, Sacramento State scored five more runs, had eight more hits and big advantages in slugging percentage and on-base percentage over Southern Utah. The pitching staff posted a 1.88 ERA, but the defense committed seven errors which contributed to four unearned runs. Errors nearly single-handedly lost yesterday's 3-1 game as all three runs were unearned, and a dropped fly ball today allowed Southern Utah to score its fifth run in sixth inning.
Entering the series, Sacramento State had committed 32 errors in the first 30 games of the season, prior to making seven errors in three games against Southern Utah.
The Thunderbirds never trailed today, scoring the game's first two runs before Sacramento State tied things at 2-2 in the fourth inning after back-to-back RBI-singles from Riley Price and Yesenia Alcala. The Hornets had the bases loaded and just one out in the inning after plating those two runs, but failed to score anymore in the frame.
Southern Utah then scored once in the fifth and two in the sixth to take a 5-2 lead heading into the final inning. The Hornets rallied in the top of the seventh as each of the first three batters of the inning scored. Alexa Chattleton opened the inning with a single before Kelli Frye's triple brought her home. Vanderdrink then followed with her team-high third home run of the season to tie the score at 5-5. Things looked even better when Emily McCormick followed Chattleton's blast with a double, but she was stranded at second base as Southern Utah starter Arie Zimmerman retired the next three Hornet batters.
Caitlin Brooks worked the first six innings of the game for Sacramento State, allowing five runs (four earned) and eight hits. She was replaced by Taylor Stroud, who held the Thunderbirds scoreless in the bottom of the seventh. After the Hornets were retired in order in the top of the eight inning, Stroud set down the first two batters in the bottom of the eighth. However, Southern Utah got three straight singles to left field from Kylee Wolf, Mikkel Griffin and Kelsey Bryant, respectively, with Bryant's hit driving home Wolf with the game-winning run.
Stroud (4-6) got the loss for Sacramento State, allowing four hits and one run in 1.2 innings.
The four earned runs were the most allowed all season by Brooks, and the eight hits were the most she has yielded since her first start of the season back on Feb. 8.
Zimmerman (7-15) got the win for Southern Utah despite allowing 12 hits and five runs over eight innings.
McCormick finished the game with three hits for Sacramento State while Price and Lauren Blair each had two hits. All but one Hornet starter had at least one hit in the game.