May 23, 2017

Sac State baseball team drops series opener against Penn State, 4-2

Sacramento State freshman Ricky Martinez swings before making contact with the ball against Penn State Thursday at John Smith Field. (Photo by Myha Sandeford)

The Sacramento State baseball team returned home with a 4-2 loss to Penn State in the first matchup of a three-game series at John Smith Field Thursday night.

Sac State senior pitcher Justin Dillon (2-1, 1.24 ERA), who entered the game only giving up two hits in his first three starts of the season, gave up three runs on three hits (two solo home runs) in seven innings of work.

“I felt good, but I felt like my mechanics were a little shaky,” Dillon said about his night on the mound. “My fastball command wasn’t as good tonight. I was also getting behind in some (pitch) counts.”

Dillon gave up no hits and picked up five strikeouts through the first four innings of the game, but the Hornets’ lineup only managed two hits through those innings against the Nittany Lions.

Penn State senior left fielder Nick Riotto lead off the fifth inning with a solo home run to right field to break up the scoreless game. Dillon then hit freshman designated hitter Braxton Giavedoni with a pitch; Giavedoni advanced to second on a wild pitch and was driven home on an RBI double from freshman center fielder Mason Nadaeu for a 2-0 lead.

“I ended up losing a changeup up (in the strike zone),” Dillon said about the fifth inning home run. “(Riotto) had a great swing on it.”

Sacramento State senior pitcher Justin Dillon throws the ball to home plate against Penn State Thursday at John Smith Field. (Photo by Myha Sandeford)

Penn State (5-7) added to its lead in the top of the sixth courtesy of a solo home run by sophomore right fielder Jordan Bowersox. Bowersox, who is hitting .417 this season, went 1-for-4 against the Hornets (7-5) with his only hit in the game being the home run.

In the bottom of the sixth inning, Sac State sophomore designated hitter Devin Lehman got on base with a single and sophomore right fielder James Outman was hit by a pitch by Penn State junior pitcher Sal Biasi. A wild pitch from Biasi advanced both runners, which was followed by another wild pitch to score Lehman and bring the score to 3-1.

With two outs recorded, Biasi’s third wild pitch of the inning sent Outman home, where he was thrown out at the plate. After debate from Sac State coach Reggie Christiansen, home plate umpire Ruben Candelaria overturned his original call to narrow the Hornets deficit to 3-2.

After the seventh inning, Dillon (88 pitches thrown) was relieved by junior Ty Fox. Senior pitcher Chad Perry took over for Fox in the ninth inning and allowed one run to Penn State off of a sacrifice fly from sophomore first baseman Willie Berger, which extended the Nittany Lions’ lead to 4-2.

After failing to respond in the bottom of the ninth inning, the Hornets ended their night only mustering four hits, while leaving seven runners on the base paths.

“I think we had good moments where we got on base, but when you get on you still have to hit,” Christiansen said in regards to leaving runners on base. “Our guys started to press a little bit, and I think they started to press a little harder than they should.”

Sac State will play game two of a three-game series against Penn State at 6 p.m. Friday at John Smith Field.

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