Baseball rallies late in 7-2 win over the University of Portland

Jordan Waterman

On a cold overcast day at John Smith Field, Sacramento State baseball rallied late to knock off the University of Portland in the first game of the doubleheader by a score of 7-2, continuing the Hornets’ winning streak.

This fifth consecutive win gives the team a 5-1 record.

Since dropping the home opener, the Hornets continue to show great resiliency late in games and are able to find a way to win. The team’s patience at the plate in the eighth inning led to four walks, allowing the team to tack on three runs late.

Sac State’s starter Ty Nichols pitched five innings, allowing two runs on five hits and two walks. He ran into some trouble with his control in the fifth, which Portland capitalized on for its only two runs of the game.

“He got behind batters and left pitches up,” said Sac State catcher Dane Fujinaka. “As the season goes on he will regain his strength, and he will end up going further and further in the game.”

The team received excellent contributions from Grant Kukuk and Ryan Smith who both threw two innings of scoreless relief.

“Grant came in and grinded it out for us,” Fujinaka said, referring to Kukuk’s sixth-inning performance. “His sinker ball was moving a lot. It’s a really good pitch.”

In the sixth, following Kukuk’s first inning, Nathan Lukes came up big, blasting a home run over the right field wall, which regained the lead for the Hornets.

The Hornets gained the lead and never looked back, continuing to add runs late with one in the seventh and three in the eighth inning.

Overall, the squad combined for 10 hits and added on another six walks to their offensive effort, continuing their success from the batters box.

“The teams approach is to hunt fastballs,” Fujinaka said. “We adjust to the off speed [pitch] when we’re down two strikes.”

Hunting fastballs did not only help Fujinaka, who had two hits, but also Brandon Hunley, who added three hits of his own. Two of Hunley’s hits were off fastballs.

Luckily for the Hornets, the lack of production from their first, second and third hitters didn’t affect the outcome of the game. The top three hitters in the lineup went for a combined 1-11 with the only hit being a solo shot from Lukes.

Sam Long will be taking the hill for Sac State in its second game of the day, looking to stretch out the winning streak to six games. The last game of the series will be Sunday, Feb. 22 at 12 p.m.