Big Sky Conference standings
SACRAMENTO -- Sacramento State got a pair of walkoff wins, including a two-run double in the first game from Sydnee Strong, and an RBI-single from Sydney Rasmussen in the nightcap, as the Hornets swept a doubleheader over Southern Utah on Friday at Shea Stadium. Both games finished via 3-2 scores, the opener finishing in the seventh, and the second game concluding in the eighth.
Strong's two-run double with one out and the bases loaded in the first game erased a 2-1 deficit, and Rasmussen's RBI-single with one out and runners and first and second in the finale broke a 2-2 tie.
With the victories, Sacramento State improved to 24-15 overall, 9-5 in the Big Sky Conference, and 12-6 at home. The Hornets and Thunderbirds (6-33, 3-11) will conclude their three-game series tomorrow with a single game at noon. Sacramento State also improved to 12-1 all-time at home against Southern Utah.
The victories allowed the Hornets to move into sole possession of second place in the Big Sky standings, just a game back of Weber State (10-4) which swept Idaho State in a doubleheader today. The Hornets have just seven Big Sky regular season games remaining in a conference race that continues to heat up. Sacramento State owns the tiebreaker over Weber State should the two teams finish tied atop the conference standings, as the Hornets took two of three earlier this year in Ogden.
Sacramento State didn't put up a ton of runs, but got the clutch hits when the team needed them most. The Hornets got impressive pitching performances from both Celina Matthias and Savanna Corr. Matthias worked seven strong innings in the opener, allowing just five hits and two runs with 11 strikeouts. In the nightcap, Corr worked six innings, allowing five hits and a run with six strikeouts. Matthias (16-6) earned the win in both games, getting the second game win in relief.
Rasmussen and Marissa Maligad both combined for three hits during the doubleheader while Matthias went a combined 2-for-5 with a sacrifice in her first career appearances in the team's starting batting order. In fact, Matthias, who is a fourth-year senior, had one career at-bat entering today's doubleheader, but immediately had hits in her first two at-bats of the opener.
With the Hornets trailing, 2-1, Maligad and Nene Alas opened the bottom of the seventh with singles, and were sacrificed up a base by Zamari Hinton. After Suzy Brookshire was intentionally walked to load the bases, that set the stage for Strong's heroics. Strong sent a 1-1 pitch by Southern Utah starter Haley Wall to the left-center field gap, easily scoring Alas and Maligad with the game-winning runs.
It was Strong who also made a diving catch at the center field wall in the fourth inning that saved at least one run from scoring. She went hitless in her first three at-bats, but saved the best for last, connecting on her 23rd and 24th RBIs of the season in the seventh.
Sacramento State got on the board in the first inning after the Hornets' Hinton and Brookshire pulled off a successful double steal. The throw to third base from T-Bird catcher Makenzie Ball was errant allowing Hinton to score. That snapped a streak of 23 consecutive scoreless innings for the Hornet offense.
The Thunderbirds would score once in the fourth and fifth innings to take a 2-1 lead. Prior to Strong's two-run double, the Hornets had been 0 for their last 19 with runners in scoring position.
Matthias picked up her 17th complete game in the win while Wall (3-11) got the loss, allowing seven hits and three runs (two earned) over 6.1 innings. Both Matthias and Maligad went 2-for-3, and were the lone Hornets with multiple-hit games.
With the score tied at 2-2 in the eighth inning, Strong and Mo Spieth connected on back-to-back singles putting runners at first and second with one out. Rasmussen then stepped up and drove a 1-0 offering up the middle that allowed Strong to score from second base. The play at the plate was close as Strong narrowly eluded Thunderbird catcher Ball's glove to score the game-winning run.
The Hornets took a 2-1 lead into the seventh inning, but with two outs and a runner at first base, Southern Utah's Sarah Murphy laced a 3-2 pitch down the left field line allowing Emilee Reeder to score and tie the game at 2-2.
Sacramento State had just taken the lead with single runs in the fifth (Maligad two-out RBI-single scoring Rasmussen) and sixth (Rasmussen two-out RBI-double scoring Brookshire) innings.
Corr worked six strong innings before Matthias came on in relief to begin the seventh. It was Matthias that got the win, allowing a run and two hits with three strikeouts over two innings. Samantha Guile (1-11) picked up the loss for Southern Utah, allowing three runs and eight hits with 10 strikeouts over 7.1 innings.
Rasmussen had a huge game, finishing 3-for-4 with a run, double and two RBIs. She had three of the Hornets' eight hits in the game.
Sacramento State and Southern Utah conclude the series tomorrow with a single game at noon. Tomorrow is Kids Day as free posters will be given out, and Hornet players will be available for autographs after the game. In addition, Sacramento State will honor the 1988 and 2008 teams.