June 24, 2017

Late rally not enough for Sac State in 6-5 loss

Sacramento State senior Trent Goodrich swings and makes contact against the Nevada Wolf Pack Tuesday at John Smith Field. (Photo by Max Jacobs)

The Sacramento State baseball team lost 6-5 against the Nevada Wolf Pack despite a two-run ninth inning Tuesday at John Smith Field.

The Hornets, which won the first matchup 7-5 at Nevada on March 11, dropped the game despite out-hitting the Wolf Pack nine to eight. Sac State coach Reggie Christiansen said the loss can be credited on the team not capitalizing on scoring opportunities.

“There were about two or three times with runners in scoring position that we could have scored,” Christiansen said. “People get excited about how players perform statistically but at the end of the day none of that matters — it’s about winning.”

The Hornets (22-23, 7-11 Western Athletic Conference) got on the scoreboard after a two-out RBI single from junior left fielder Andrew McWilliam to take a 1-0 lead in the first inning.

In the next frame, Nevada junior left fielder Chase Grant scored from third on a wild pitch, and back-to-back RBI singles from freshman shortstop Jaylon McLaughlin and junior third baseman Jordan Pearce put the Wolf Pack ahead 3-1 in the second inning.

The offensive onslaught continued in the third inning for Nevada after a second consecutive three-run inning. A groundout from freshman designated hitter Tyler Flores brought sophomore catcher Kaleb Foster home, followed immediately by an RBI double from freshman right fielder Otis Statum. Statum was then driven in on a single from McLaughlin to extend the lead to 6-1.

Sac State decreased the lead in the bottom of the third inning as McWilliam drove in his second RBI of the game to bring junior first baseman Vinny Esposito across the plate. In the fifth inning, sophomore right fielder James Outman singled to drive in junior center fielder Ian Dawkins and cut the deficit to 6-3.

In the sixth inning, the Hornets left the bases loaded and lost an opportunity to narrow the lead, followed by a seventh inning where runners were stranded on second and third base. McWilliam said there was no single moment that contributed to the loss, but collectively how the team performed.

“It was an all-around team loss,” McWilliam said. “There were definitely opportunities we had to score in the fifth through eighth inning. We could have been better on both sides — you can’t wait until the ninth inning to try and come back in the game.”

In the bottom of the ninth inning, McWilliam hit a two-RBI double to the left field wall to cut the Nevada lead to one run, giving him 20 RBIs on the season. In the next at-bat, junior second baseman PJ Floyd struck out to end the game 6-5.

Sac State freshman pitcher Austin Roberts (2-1, 5.57 ERA) lost his first game of the year after giving up one run on one and one-third innings pitched. The Hornets used seven pitchers out of the bullpen, including junior pitcher Austin Root, who pitched in the eighth inning and gave up no runs or hits on two strikeouts.

“Our job in the bullpen is to keep the team in the game,” Root said. “It doesn’t matter if it was in the third inning like today or the eighth inning — out of the bullpen the mentality is to give your team a chance to win.”

Sac State will go on the road for seven consecutive games, starting with a three-game series against Chicago State (10-30, 6-9 Western Athletic Conference) before returning home May 18 for a three-game series against UT Rio Grande Valley at John Smith Field.

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