Sac State opens up season with split against UC Davis

Joe Fleming

It didn’t take long for the squad to shake away the cobwebs from a long offseason. Sacramento State jumped out to an early lead in game one of a double-header against UC Davis scoring three runs in the first inning and eventually winning the game 4-3 despite two Aggie home runs.

Sac State played a double-header on Sunday atUCDavis to start the season after rain postponed Friday and Saturday’s contests.

Starting pitcher Tanner Mendonca (1-0) had a strong outing, giving up three earned runs in six innings and issuing only one walk.

“It gave me a lot of confidence going in there knowing we had an early lead. I went out there and got some outs and kept the game going,” Mendonca said.

Mendonca said he was a little nervous because it was the season opener and his first game of the year, but once he got started he tried to treat this game no different than any other.

“It’s big for us. It gives us a lot of confidence, and hopefully we’re going to improve a lot this season,” Mendonca said. “We’re going to take it one game at a time.”

Game two remained scoreless through eight and a half innings until UC Davis’ Scott Lyman ripped a single into right field, scoring the game’s first run.

Sac State couldn’t manage to get a runner on base and went down in order in the ninth losing 1-0 to Davis. A combination of defensive gems from both teams and solid starting pitching from Sac State’s Sam Kuykendall and UC Davis’ Anthony Kupbens kept the game a low score.

Kuykendall went 5.1 innings giving up three hits in his first start. Kupbens struck out six in six scoreless innings.

Trevor Paine, Sac State’s first baseman and biggest offensive weapon, went 2 for 4 but was unable to get a big hit in the ninth to put the team on the board.

“I was a little antsy at the plate. I had to tell myself to slow down and stay with the approach that gave me success last season,” Paine said. “I wasn’t able to tie the game in the last at bat. I was swinging for it, but just missed a couple pitches.”

Paine said the team wasn’t happy with losing the second game, but felt good that they were able to at least split on the road.

Sac State’s head coach Reggie Christiansenalso felt it was a good start to the 2011 campaign.

“My guys competed and played hard and we made some mistakes, but we’re a young team and overall I feel pretty good about it,” Christiansen said.

Sac State finishes the three-game series at 2 p.m. on Monday at John Smith Field.

You can reach Joe Fleming at jfleming@statehornet.com