Hornets upset No.4 Oregon State in Raley Field classic

State Hornet Staff

Sacramento State was down early against No.4 Oregon State Monday, but a strong effort out of the bullpen, combined with clutch hitting, helped the Hornets upset the Beavers at Raley Field.

Sac State was down 6-1 after two innings, but scored six unanswered runs and took the game 7-6. With the win, the Hornets improve to 5-0 at Raley Field this year, and beat their highest ranked opponent in their Div. I history.

Hornets starting pitcher, freshman Justin Dillon, struggled, giving up six earned runs in just two innings of work. Head coach Reggie Christiansen was forced to go to his bullpen early.

Senior Hunter Greenwood, juniors Brennan Leitao and Alex Palsha, and sophomore Sutter McLoughlin combined to throw seven scoreless innings against the Beavers.

“You get down early like that, 6-1, and you see our guys totally get back, you know,” Christiansen said. “Brennan gave us two great innings, Alex did, Greenwood was huge man, Greenwood giving those two innings was awesome.”

McLoughlin pitched the final two innings for Sac State. In the ninth with a one run lead, he had to face the 3-4-5 hitters in the Beavers lineup. The leadoff hitter, left fielder Michael Conforto, who was 4-for-4 and leads the nation in on base percentage, got on with a single. McLoughlin held tough against the next three batters as he got a strikeout and two pop outs to end the game.

“It was a grind, that was probably the most strikes I’ve thrown consecutively, but I got him to pop out,” McLoughlin said. “That was probably the most nerve wracking, but I was ready for it.”

McLoughlin earned his third win of the season.

“I’m not gonna lie, it was pretty nerve wracking, but that felt 10 times better than beating Texas A&M,” McLoughlin said. “It’s pretty good to get a win against those guys.”

With the good pitching, also came the good hitting. Sac State had not come back from a six-run deficit all season, but were able to chip away at Oregon State’s lead. After scoring one run in the bottom of the first, the Hornets added two in the fourth, one in the sixth, two in the seventh and one in the eighth.

In the bottom of the eighth inning, junior shortstop Scotty Burcham hit a one-out single with runners at first and second, scoring junior first baseman Rhys Hoskins. It was the eventual winning run and the first time the Hornets led all game.

“I stayed on the fastball and I saw the breaking ball up, and just tried to be short to the ball,” Burcham said. “This was pretty cool.”

Burcham was proud of the way his team played.

“Our bullpen did an unreal job of keeping us in the game and we knew we would get to their starter because we’ve been hitting him hard,” Burcham said. “You just gotta know that’s a team effort, not one person can do it on one swing.”

Oregon State’s Conforto collected four hits, one of which a two-RBI home run, and also scored two runs. Relief pitcher Andrew Moore was tagged with the loss after giving up two hits and the game-winning run in the eighth.

Christiansen said his team was ready to play tonight, and that they fought all game long.

“I’m extremely proud, especially, you know the fact that we came from behind, we haven’t done that much,” Christiansen said. “A special win, special win.”

Sac State will take on Oregon State for a second game, Tuesday at John Smith Field. First pitch is at 1 p.m.