June 22, 2017

Hornets drop 2 games in series against New Mexico State

Sacramento State senior Justin Dillon pitches against New Mexico State on April 13 at John Smith Field. (Photo by Ricardo Coronado)

The Sacramento State baseball team lost two games in a three-game series against the New Mexico State Aggies this weekend at John Smith Field.

Along with losing two out of three games against Grand Canyon last weekend, this marks the second week in a row in which the Hornets (17-18, 4-8 Western Athletic Conference) have lost a series to the WAC leader.

“The games are nowhere where we need to be,” Sac State coach Reggie Christiansen said after only taking one game in each series against Grand Canyon and New Mexico State. “I was encouraged by the way our guys fought back Saturday night even though we didn’t deserve to win that game with the mistakes we made. Even though our pitching has been good, we need to find a way to get better.”

The Hornets got off to a 2-0 start in the first inning of Thursday’s game after junior first baseman Vinny Esposito hit a bases-clearing triple to score freshman third baseman Ricky Martinez and sophomore right fielder James Outman.

The Aggies responded in the second inning with a two-run home run from senior shortstop LJ Hatch to tie the game. In the next inning, senior left fielder Austin Botello hit a two-run home run of his own to get New Mexico State in front 4-2.

The home run spree continued for New Mexico State in the fifth inning as sophomore catcher Jason Bush hit a solo home run, followed by a two-run home run from senior right fielder Dan Hetzel to bring the score to 7-2.

The Hornets clawed back to narrow their deficit to 8-4, but New Mexico State sophomore first baseman Tristen Carranza hit a solo home run in the ninth inning to solidify a 9-4 final score. Sac State senior pitcher Justin Dillon (3-4, 2.61 ERA) gave up four home runs in the five innings he pitched, which matches how many home runs he had given up in total this season.

In game two, the Hornets handed the Aggies their first loss in WAC competition after a 12th inning walk-off single by Outman.

New Mexico State scored the first run in game two after junior designated hitter Mason Fishback hit a sacrifice fly to bring home Carranza in the fourth inning.

The Hornets responded right after with a sacrifice fly from Esposito to bring Outman home and tie the game 1-1. Outman then hit the game-winning single for Sac State’s first and only victory of the series, which marks the second time this week the Hornets have won a game despite being out hit by the opposition.

Freshman pitcher Parker Brahms (4-3, 2.91 ERA) gave up one unearned run on four hits in seven innings pitched, while striking out seven batters in a no decision. Sophomore pitcher Alex Dentoni (4-1, 1.91 ERA) got the win out of the bullpen after giving up no runs on three hits.

In the series finale, the Aggies jumped out to a 4-0 lead after seven innings of play, but Sac State answered with two runs in the bottom of the seventh inning after leadoff hitter Outman squared up on a ball for two-RBI double.

“I haven’t hit leadoff before, but I want to learn how to,” Outman said after posting his team-leading 30th RBI. “Whatever helps the team — it doesn’t matter where I hit in the order.”

New Mexico State got back on the scoreboard in the ninth inning after junior Brian Kizer hit an RBI double to get the lead up to the eventual 5-2 final score.

Sac State will next play San Francisco (18-17, 5-9 West Coast Conference) at 6 p.m. Monday at John Smith Field.

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