May 27, 2017

Sac State baseball team drops 3rd-straight home series

Sacramento State freshman pitcher Parker Brahms throws the ball for a strike against CSU Bakersfield Saturday at John Smith Field. (Photo by Andre Newell)

The Sacramento State baseball team won one out of three games in its series against CSU Bakersfield over the weekend at John Smith Field.

This marks the third-straight home series the Hornets have lost. After going 5-5 in its past 10 games, Sac State (22-22, 7-11 Western Athletic Conference) is currently sitting at fifth place in the WAC.

Sac State coach Reggie Christiansen explained that the team’s tough moments are partially due to hitters getting too aggressive when falling behind.

“Often times offensively, we do too much to try and get back in the game,” Christiansen said. “When we can’t chip away at their lead a little bit at a time, it can snowball. This game is hard to play, but when you put too much pressure on yourself — it makes it even harder.”

The Hornets got on the scoreboard in the first inning of the first game Friday after freshman catcher Dawsen Bacho was walked in an eight-pitch battle with two outs and the bases loaded to bring junior center fielder Ian Dawkins home to take a 1-0 lead.

The Roadrunners rallied in the fifth inning, starting with a run on a single from senior second baseman David Metzgar to even the score with no outs. They took the lead after scoring junior left fielder Andrew Penner on a fielder’s choice, followed by a two-RBI single off the bat of senior first baseman Mahlik Jones to push their lead to 4-1.

The Hornets cut into Bakersfield’s lead in the seventh inning when freshman third baseman Ricky Martinez hit an RBI triple to right field with no outs to drive in senior shortstop Trent Goodrich. Martinez crossed the plate on a sacrifice fly to narrow the Roadrunners lead to 4-3.

Unable to score in the final two innings, CSU Bakersfield held its 4-3 lead to win game one. Senior pitcher Justin Dillon (3-5, 2.85 ERA), who was reportedly pitching through illness, gave up all four of the Roadrunners runs in the fifth inning.

The second game did not see any runs until the fourth inning Saturday when Jones hit an RBI single to grab the lead. The Hornets responded in the bottom of the inning with a three-run rally that started with an RBI triple from junior first baseman Vinny Esposito, who was driven home off a base hit off from senior designated hitter Kody Reynolds. Junior second baseman PJ Floyd followed with another single to get Reynolds home and jump in front 3-1.

Sac State added to the lead in the next inning after Esposito hit his second RBI triple of the game, getting home on a double by Reynolds at the very next at-bat. Esposito, who became the third player in program history to hit two triples in a single game, added more RBIs to his collection with a home run in the seventh inning to extend the lead to 7-1.

A four-run rally by the Hornets in the eighth inning ended the night early at 11-1 under the 10-run mercy rule implemented by the WAC.

Through the Sac State hitting frenzy, freshman pitcher Parker Brahms (6-3, 2.49 ERA) gave up one run over seven innings pitched to extend his winning streak to four games.

“I felt good about my fastball,” Brahms said. “My changeup was off and I found my curveball late in the game, but I hit most of the spots with fastballs.”

The Roadrunners once again got on the board in the first inning of game three after Metzgar scored Penner on a ground ball followed by an RBI single from senior shortstop Ryan Grotjohn to take an early 2-0 lead.

In the next inning, CSU Bakersfield kept the momentum going with an RBI double from junior center fielder Mark Pena and an RBI-base hit from Penner to extend the lead to 4-0.

The Hornets pushed back in the bottom of the second inning as freshman third baseman Ricky Martinez was walked with the bases loaded to cut into the lead 4-1. Controversy ensued when a dropped fly ball in the infield was ruled as an infield fly, taking away a run and potential for a rally to start.

In the top of the fifth inning, the Roadrunners added one more to their run total after Grotjohn grounded out with no outs on the board to drive in Metzgar to get the lead to 5-1.

After the Roadrunners added another run to the scoreboard, Sac State scored a run in the bottom of the sixth inning after Reynolds beat the tag at the plate on a wild pitch. In the next inning, Esposito drove in Dawkins with a sacrifice fly to right field to cut the Cal State Bakersfield lead to 5-3.

In the ninth inning, senior first baseman Max Carter hit an RBI double that was followed by a sacrifice fly from sophomore right fielder Sergio Robles. An RBI single from senior catcher Felix Junior extended the Roadrunners lead to 8-3.

Sac State senior pitcher Max Karnos (0-6, 6.42 ERA) took the loss on Sunday’s game after only being on the mound for one inning. The Hornets used five pitchers out of the bullpen, totaling nine strikeouts.

Sac State will next play Nevada (13-28, 9-13 Mountain West Conference) in a one-game matchup at John Smith Field Tuesday at 6 p.m.

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