SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Sacramento State combined to score 10 runs on 18 hits as the Hornets split a Big Sky Conference softball doubleheader with Southern Utah on Friday afternoon at Shea Stadium. The Thunderbirds were victorious in the first game by a 6-4 score before the Hornets came back to win the nightcap, 6-3.
The split moved the Hornets' record to 15-15 overall and 4-1 in the Big Sky while Southern Utah is now 11-19 and 3-2 in the conference. These same two teams return tomorrow to close out their three-game series for a single game at noon.
Six different Sacramento State players had at least two hits during the doubleheader, including three each from Yesenia Alcala, Alexis Martinez and Kortney Solis. Martinez and Sasha Margulies both had two RBIs as the Hornets finished the doubleheader hitting .327. The team's pitching staff posted a 2.00 ERA, but six Sacramento State errors led to five unearned runs.
The doubleheader also saw Hornet right fielder Paige Martin get hit by a pitch four times, increasing her nation's leading total to 17 hit-by-pitches this season.
"Southern Utah came out quick and grabbed the momentum right away in the first game," Sacramento State head coach Lori Perez said. "We had to scratch and claw our way back, and although we lost the opener, you could see the momentum shifting back in our favor towards the end of the first game. We were able to apply that momentum to the second game and really jumped on their pitcher right away."
Sacramento State scored twice in the first inning, and four more times in the fourth to post a 6-3 victory. The Hornets erased a 3-2 deficit with the four-run fourth inning, and Taylor Stroud pitched one-hit ball over the final three innings to pick up her first save of the season.
The Hornets' runs in the first inning came with two outs after Martinez drove a 1-2 pitch to right field which scored both Solis and Martin. It looked like Southern Utah would open the scoring in the top of the first, when, with two outs and a runner at third, the Thunderbirds' Madison Resley drove a ball through the right side but Martin threw her out from right field on a 9-3 putout to the end the inning.
Southern Utah took advantage of two Hornet errors in the top of the fourth to score three unearned runs off Hornet starter Kaitlyn Yerby and take a 3-2 lead. However, Sacramento State bounced back with a four-run fourth that saw the team send 10 batters to the plate and score four times on four hits. RBI-singles from Alcala, Nikki Gialketsis and Sasha Margulies, as well as Martin getting hit by a pitch with the bases loaded accounted for the four runs.
After Yerby allowed a single to start the fifth inning, Stroud entered the game and proceeded to retire 12 of the 13 batters she faced to pick up the save. Yerby improved to 3-1 after allowing four hits and three unearned runs over four innings, and Stroud allowed just one hit over three innings for the save.
Eight different Sacramento State players had at least one hit, including Alcala who was 2-for-3 with a run and an RBI.
Southern Utah never trailed as the Thunderbirds scored twice in both the second, third and fifth innings. The Hornets chopped into the 4-0 deficit by scoring three times in the fourth inning, but Southern Utah immediately scored twice in the top of the fifth to take a 6-3 lead. A Hornet error contributed to both runs in the fifth inning, and that error proved costly as the difference in the game ended up being two runs.
Highlighting Sacramento State's scoring in the fourth inning was a solo homer off the bat of Margulies, her first of the season. The Hornets would later use a wild pitch and a passed ball to score the final two runs of the inning.
With Sacramento State trailing, 6-3, in the fifth, the first three Hornets of the inning reached base safely and Martin crossed the plate to cut the lead to 6-4. Sacramento State eventually loaded the bases with no outs, but could not score again. The Hornets also squandered a second and third with nobody out situation in the seventh inning. Sacramento State stranded nine runners on base, including at least one in every inning.
Southern Utah had a pair of home runs in the game, comprised of two-run shots from Meagan Neilson and Resley in the second and third innings, respectively.
The Thunderbirds' Ariel Hart (3-6) got the win, allowing five hits and four runs (two earned) over four innings, while Katie Greenberg allowed four hits over three scoreless innings to earn her second save of the year. Sacramento State starter Jennifer Hartman (4-5) took the loss, allowing five hits and six runs (four earned) over five innings.
Sacramento State outhit Southern Utah, 9-5, and saw both Solis (2-for-4) and Martinez (2-for-4) have multiple-hit games.