POCATELLO, Idaho -- Idaho State's Terah Blackwell hit a one-out, two-run homer in the bottom of the sixth inning to give the Bengals a 3-2 lead, and that was the eventual final score in their victory over Sacramento State in the rubber game of the teams' three-game set.
The two teams split a doubleheader yesterday that included Sacramento State winning the opener in convincing fashion, 9-3, before a walk-off homer from Hailey Breakwell gave Idaho State a 6-5 win in the nightcap.
A win today would have been huge for the Hornets (19-18, 7-4), and would have allowed the team to take over sole possession of first place in the Big Sky Conference standings. Instead, Sacramento State now finds itself in a virtual three-way tie for second place in the league standings with both Idaho State (24-16, 6-3) and Northern Colorado (6-3 in league). Southern Utah, which was idle this week, is first with a 6-2 record.
The Hornets have just six games remaining on their conference schedule, including the final regular-season home games next week in a three-game set vs. Portland State. The winner of the Big Sky's regular season title will host the Big Sky Championship on May 8-10. The top four teams in the standings will qualify for the league's postseason event.
The last two losses to Idaho State have come in brutal fashion, including yesterday in which the Hornets blew a 5-1 lead in the fifth inning. Today saw Alexis Martinez connect on a two-run homer in the top of the sixth inning to give the Hornets a 2-1 lead.
Hornet right-hander Caitlin Brooks had been sailing along, allowing ISU just one run and four hits the first five innings of the game.
However, in the bottom of the sixth inning, with one out, Hailey Breakwell worked a nine-pitch walk, and Blackwell followed with a two-run homer to left field. Sacramento State pinch hitter Paris Prado worked a walk to lead off the top of the seventh, but never advanced to second.
One day after throwing 162 pitches in the 9-3 win over the Bengals, Brooks gutted out another six innings today. She allowed six hits and three runs while walking two and striking out five. Brooks was much more economical today, throwing just 94 pitches, and retiring the first 10 batters of the game.
Jessica Tolmie (5-2) picked up both wins of the series for Idaho State, which included throwing four innings of scoreless relief yesterday. Today, she allowed just four hits and two runs while walking a pair and striking out seven batters over seven innings.
Sacramento State's four hits came from Martinez, Kortney Solis, Nikki Gialketsis and Nicole Clark.
The Hornets return to action for their final three regular-season home games of the season next week when they host Portland State for a three-game series. The Hornets and Vikings will play a doubleheader on Friday at noon, followed by a single game on Saturday at noon.