PORTLAND, Ore. — Portland State erased an early 5-1 deficit, and Becca Bliss' walk-off home run with one out in the ninth inning completed the comeback as the Vikings defeated Sacramento State, 6-5, in a Big Sky Conference softball game Saturday afternoon at Erv Lind Stadium.
With the victory, Portland State (19-27, 11-4) took two of three games in the series with the Hornets (21-18, 6-6). The two teams split a doubleheader yesterday with the Vikings winning the first game, 1-0, before the Hornets took the nightcap, 8-0, in a mercy-rule shortened game.
With just three games left in the regular season, Sacramento State remains in fourth place in the league standings with a 6-6 record. Idaho State sits atop the conference standings with a 12-3 record, followed by Portland State (11-4), Southern Utah (9-6) and the Hornets (6-6) in the seven-team league. The top four teams in the conference qualify for the Big Sky Tournament, which will take place at the regular season champion's home field on May 9-11.
Sacramento State needs to win just one of its three games next weekend at home against Idaho State to clinch a spot in the four-team Big Sky Tournament field, as Northern Colorado sits in fifth place with a 5-10 record, followed by North Dakota (2-7) and Weber State (3-12). North Dakota has had six league games cancelled this year because of weather, including a three-game set with the Hornets last weekend.
In today's game, the Hornets looked to be alright with a 5-1, third-inning lead and staff ace Caitlin Brooks in the circle. However, that lead was quickly whittled away as the Vikings scored once in the fourth inning and three more times in the fifth to tie the score at 5-5. Both teams were held scoreless the next three innings before Becca Bliss deposited the first pitch she saw in the ninth inning over the center field fence.
Becca Bliss also hit a home run in the first inning to give the Vikings an early 1-0 lead. However, the Hornets responded with five runs in the third inning, highlighted by RBI-singles from Kelli Frye and Paige Martin, an RBI-double from Emily McCormick, and Kortney Solis stealing home on the back end of a double steal. The Hornets sent 11 batters to the plate and took advantage of two PSU errors in the inning. Sacramento State also had six hits in the inning and could have scored more runs, but had a runner thrown out at home plate for the first out of the inning.
After the five-run outburst in the third, PSU starter Anna Bertrand settled down and did not allow another hit the rest of the afternoon. Meanwhile, the Vikings kept chipping away at the Hornet lead, scoring a run on a two-out RBI-single in the fourth inning and a three-run double from Lauran Bliss in the fifth to tie the score.
Sacramento State reliever Taylor Stroud entered the game in the fifth inning for Brooks, and threw well until giving up the solo homer in the ninth.
Bertrand (15-14) got her second win of the series, allowing seven hits and five runs (two earned) over nine innings. Stroud (4-9), who gave up just two runs and four hits in 10.1 combined innings during the series, picked up her second loss of the series. She allowed just two hits and one run in 4.1 innings today. Brooks worked the first four innings, allowing seven hits and five runs.
Alyssa Vanderdrink (2-for-4) and Riley Price (2-for-4) both had multiple-hit games for the Hornets while Frye, McCormick, Solis, Alexa Chattleton and Nicole Clark all scored runs.
The Hornets will play a doubleheader on Saturday at 1 p.m. against Idaho State, followed by a single game on Sunday at noon. Sunday will be Senior Day as Sacramento State seniors Lauren Blair, Molly Smith, Frye and McCormick will be honored prior to the game for their contributions to the program.