Kyle Moses’ three-run home run in the bottom of the eighth inning broke open a tied ballgame and propelled the Sacramento State Hornets to a 7-4 victory over the visiting University of Texas-Pan American Broncs today, allowing the Hornets to take the first two games of the three-game series.
The Hornets’ leadoff hitter, Moses, came to the plate with two runners on and two outs. It was the senior’s first homer of the season.
Grant Kukuk pitched one third of an inning and retired the one batter he faced. Kukuk picked up the win for Sac State (12-9) as UTPA fell to10-10.
Moses’ shot was one of several exciting moments in today’s game. The Broncs’ Cole Loncar’s fifth inning towering two-run blast to left field gave the visitors a 3-1 lead.
The Hornets tied the game with Scotty Burcham’s two-run triple up the alley in right center field in the bottom of the seventh inning. The senior also tripled in Sac State’s first game of the series. Teammate Nathan Lukes pushed the home team ahead with his RBI fielder’s choice, which plated Burcham.
UTPA tied the game with Logan Landon’s solo home run off of Hornets’ reliever Chad Perry in the top half of the eighth inning, setting the stage for Moses’ heroics in the bottom half of the inning.
“We grinded and battled out there today,” said coach Reggie Christiansen. “We showed a lot by being able to come back against a good, confident [and] quality opponent.”
Sam Long pitched seven innings, where he gave up six hits, one walk and struck out four for Sac State. Despite allowing three earned runs in the fifth inning, the sophomore did not factor into the decision. He won all four of his previous starts this season.
“I felt good, just ran into a little trouble that inning,” Long said. “The home run was my only mistake all game. That’s baseball though.”
Robert Quinonez pitched 6 1/3 innings, allowing four earned runs and striking out five for UTPA. The freshmen did not factor into the decision. Reliever Johnny Gonzales pitched the decisive eighth inning and was charged all three runs for the visitors.
Both teams had success at the plate in this contest with each team recording nine hits. Moses went 3-for-5 with three RBIs, and number two hitter Burcham went 2-for-3 with two RBIs to pace the Hornets’ attack from the top of the order. Broncs’ seniors Landon (2-for-3, one RBI) and Jesus Garcia (3-for-4) led UTPA.
Sac State freshmen Ryan Smith gave up one hit in the ninth to earn his third save of the season.
“We have a target on our back after winning the conference last year and being picked to repeat,” Christiansen said. “Our challenging non-league schedule and some adversity like today are going to go a long way in defining who we can become.”
The series concludes Sunday with game 3 set to begin at 12 p.m.