Baseball finishes sweep of Northern Colorado with 9-3 victory

Kevin L. Shepherd

Scotty Burcham’s two home runs led the red-hot Sacramento State Hornets to a game-three victory and series sweep of the University of Northern Colorado Bears 9-3 today in Western Athletic Conference play at John Smith Field.

The Hornets (29-23, 15-9 WAC) won their seventh straight contest to move into fourth place in conference. The sweep dropped Northern Colorado (16-27, 12-12 WAC) into sixth place.

Burcham continues to be the catalyst for the Hornets offensively. Though his streak of consecutive multi-hit games ended yesterday at 10, he began a new multi-hit streak today with three hits.

The scorching hot senior, who currently is in the midst of a 13-game hitting streak went 3-for-5 with 5 RBIs, raising his batting average to .354.

“My approach has been the same,” Burcham said. “I have just been trying to put good contact on the ball and have been fortunate to find some openings in the defense.”

Justin Dillon pitched six effective innings for the Hornets in picking up the win. The sophomore allowed three runs and struck out four while allowing one walk.

“I was trying to pound the strike zone,” Dillon said. “I felt good and just wanted to throw strikes so that our hot offense can get back out there.”

This has been the case throughout the season-high winning streak, the Sac State offense provided the fireworks today. During the win streak, the Hornets have scored at least seven runs in each contest.

Today’s nine runs brought the weekend total to 25 against Northern Colorado. The Hornets had 14 hits today, following the 13 hits produced in each game of yesterday’s doubleheader.

“We were able to carry our momentum from yesterday into today,” said Sac State coach Reggie Christiansen. “Scotty had a big today and the rest of the order followed suit.”

Sac State, as the designated road team all series due to the series being moved to Sacramento because of a forecast of rain in Greeley, Colorado this weekend, scored first in the top of the third inning.

Dan Deely’s triple to right field was followed by Gunner Pollman’s RBI single to left field. The Bears were able to answer with Jensen Park’s RBI single up the middle to tie the game at one apiece after three innings.

Pollman’s high fly down the left field line to begin the fifth inning was able to drop in between several Northern Colorado defenders, resulting in a double for the Hornets’ catcher. That was followed by Brunson Grubbs reaching on a bunt that saw Pollman slide into third safely. Nathan Lukes followed with a sacrifice fly, which put the Hornets ahead 2-1.

Burcham came to the plate next and sent a second-pitch fastball over the wall in left field to put the Hornets ahead 4-1. Chris Lewis’ RBI double later in the inning put Sac State ahead 5-1.

Northern Colorado again answered in the bottom half of the inning in which Sac State scored. This time it was Park hitting a high blast off the parking structure that overlooks left field to move the Bears to within two at 5-3.

The Bears would not get any closer. The Hornets tacked on three more runs the following inning. Burcham’s single through the right side of the infield plated two more Hornets, and Devin Lehman’s RBI single through the left side of the infield put the Hornets comfortably ahead 8-1.

Burcham capped off the scoring with his ninth inning solo line-drive home run to left-center. It was his third home run of the season.

Nick Tanner took the loss for Northern Colorado, lasting just 4 1/3 innings and allowing five runs. Tyler Beardsley pitched a perfect seventh inning for Sac State before handing the ball to Sutter McLoughlin to pitch the remaining two innings of scoreless relief.

In addition to Burcham, Sac State received multi-hit games from Vinny Esposito, Lewis and Pollman. The Hornets hit .342 as a team for the series with five home runs.

Sac State concludes its regular season hosting Grand Canyon University May 14-16.