Untimely errors in extra innings allowed the Seattle University Redhawks (13-15) to score in the 11th inning, taking the first game, 3-2, over Sacramento State baseball (17-11) in their three-game series.
Hornets’ relief pitcher Austin Ragsdale received the loss for his 1 1/3 innings pitched. The Redhawks won off an error committed by Ragsdale, which allowed Seattle University’s unearned run to score.
A bunt laid up the middle near the pitcher’s mound by Seattle University’s Michael McCann was picked up by the Hornets’ Ragsdale and his throw to first sailed into foul territory, allowing the Redhawks’ Brian Olson to score for the win.
Sac State had a rough day defensively, allowing two unearned runs that wasted strong starting and relief pitching.
“We beat ourselves today,” said Sac State senior pitcher Brennan Leitao. “We let Seattle stick around and it came back to bite us.”
Errors have played a key role in many of the Hornets’ losses this season when the team prides themselves on playing strong defense. They are currently ranked 47th in the nation in Division I baseball with a fielding percentage of .973.
“We have to play better defense,” said Scotty Burcham, short stop and captain of the Hornets’ defense. “We haven’t played defense well lately.”
Seattle University capitalized early on a fielding error by third baseman Devin Lehman, which was followed up by a single and an RBI groundout by the Redhawks’ Olson for the 1-0 lead.
After two quick groundouts in the fourth, the Redhawks would score for a second time off of Sac State’s starting pitcher Ty Nichols. Nichols walked two batters and gave up an RBI single to Dalton Hurd, extending Seattle University’s lead to 2-0.
Overall, Nichols pitched a solid six innings, allowing only one earned run, two hits, three walks, and he struck out four batters.
With one out in the seventh, Gunner Pollman drew a walk and sparked a comeback rally for the Hornets. Vinny Esposito followed with a hit. Burcham stepped up to knock in Pollman with an RBI single, but Esposito would be gunned down at third.
Burcham stole second and third, eventually being driven in with an RBI single by Kyle Moses, tying the game at 2-2 to end the inning.
Tyler Beardsley relieved Nichols in the seventh, throwing a scoreless inning who was followed by Chad Perry. In the eighth and ninth Perry threw two scoreless innings. Their combined efforts allowed only two hitters to reach base.
Entering the tenth, Sac State created a legitimate scoring chance after a one-out single by Nathan Lukes and Dane Fujinaka’s double to left. The opportunity was quickly erased after Brandon Hunley lined out to short and Bronson Grubbs fouled out to first.
Offensively, Esposito and Fujinaka led the Hornets with three hits out of five plate appearances. Sac State outhit Seattle University 10-6, but committed five errors.
“I think we just need to capitalize on the opportunities we get throughout the game and we’ll be fine,” said Hornets’ pitcher Sam Long.
Sac State’s pitching staff allowed only one earned run and gave up six total hits, but their offense left 11 runners stranded on base.
Redhawks’ pinch hitter Dalton Hurd in was a great asset for his team. His RBI and two hits sparked the offense for Seattle University. Their starting pitcher Will Dennis threw a strong seven innings, allowing only two earned runs. Ted Hammond contributed four innings of scoreless relief to receive the win for the Redhawks.
Sac State baseball received its first Western Athletic Conference loss and snapped its four-game winning streak. The Hornets will look to rebound tomorrow at 5 p.m. with the chance to come out on top in the series and regain the lead in conference.
With this win, Seattle University is tied with Sac State in the top spot.