SOFTBALL SWEEPS PORTLAND STATE, JUST A HALF GAME BACK OF FIRST PLACE
SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Freshman Alexis Martinez's RBI-single in the sixth inning broke a 2-2 tie and helped deliver Sacramento State's 3-2 victory over Portland State in the third game of a Big Sky Conference series Saturday afternoon at Shea Stadium.
Coupled with yesterday's 5-2 and 3-0 wins, Sacramento State (22-18, 10-4) was able to complete the three-game sweep of the Vikings (7-31, 2-12). Overall, the Hornets are now a season-high four games above the .500 mark and remain a half game back of first place Southern Utah (9-2) in the Big Sky Conference standings.
Sacramento State has just three games remaining on its conference schedule, and the Hornets did clinch one of the four spots for the Big Sky Championship. However, the Hornets have their sites set on the possibility of winning the conference's regular season title and hosting the league's postseason tournament which takes place May 8-10. Sacramento State will play its final three league games next week at Weber State.
There are four teams still in the hunt to win the regular season title, comprised of Southern Utah (9-2), Sacramento State (10-4), Idaho State (8-3) and Northern Colorado (6-5). Idaho State swept a doubleheader from Northern Colorado this afternoon, and the teams play one more game tomorrow.
The winner of the regular season title hosts the Big Sky Championship, which is a double-elimination tournament that will see the victor gain an automatic berth into the NCAA Regionals.
"To have the opportunity of winning conference, we needed to sweep Portland State this week," Sacramento State head coach Lori Perez said. "It was just a matter taking it one game at a time, scoring runs and holding them down in the circle.
"We challenged the team to sweep this week, and they came through. But these are just the first few steps. We were able to win three this week, and we need to take care of business at Weber State next week. We'll use the same approach against Weber....take it one game at a time while expecting to win each game."
In today's game, Sacramento State right-hander Caitlin Brooks went the distance, allowing four hits and two runs while walking one and striking out nine batters. She threw 104 pitches, and retired the first 13 batters of the game before allowing a clean single to left field from Crysta Conn. After taking a no-hitter into the sixth inning of yesterday's 5-2 victory, Brooks took a perfect game into the fifth inning today before the one-out single.
Sacramento State got single runs in the first and fourth innings, before a two-out, two-run double from Brit Hendrickson tied the game at 2-2 in the top of the sixth. However, in the bottom of the inning, Sacramento State opened the frame with a walk to Paige Martin followed by a Kortney Solis single. After a strikeout, Martinez stepped to the plate and lined a 2-1 pitch off the center field wall which easily scored Martin from second base. The ball was hit so hard that Martinez had to hold up at first base with a single.
That long RBI-single proved to be the game winner as Brooks retired the Portland State side in order in the seventh inning to improve her record this year to 8-5.
In the first inning, Martin hit a one-out triple before coming home on a Solis sacrifice fly. In the fourth, Martin crushed the first pitch of the inning over the left field wall for her second home run of the season. In fact, it was Martin who scored all three runs for the Hornets today as she finished 2-for-2 with a walk, triple, home run, three runs scored and an RBI.
Karyn Wright (2-18) got the loss for Portland State in relief, allowing three hits and one run in three innings. Meagan Hendrix worked the first three innings, allowing two runs and three hits.
Today marked the final regular-season home game of the season as Hornet seniors Taylor Stroud, Yesenia Alcala and Paris Prado, as well as Paige Castro were honored prior to the game for their contributions to the program.
Sacramento State will play each of its final four regular season games on the road next week, beginning with a non-conference tilt on Wednesday at Cal, before traveling to Weber State for a three-game series April 25-26.
The Hornets will have their conference bye week April 28-May 4, while the other six Big Sky squads will be playing.