Hornet baseball wins fifth straight conference game

Jerod Moreno

Sacramento State baseball’s stellar pitching helped the team improve to 5-0 in conference play as the Hornets won 5-1 against Northern Colorado in game two of the three-game series on Saturday.

Sac State starting pitcher Max Karnos threw seven strong innings and put the Hornets in a good position to finish up the game. Karnos allowed just one run in seven innings, with five strikeouts and only one walk. Chad Perry took over in the eighth inning and struck out the side on just 12 pitches, giving up no hits and no runs. Closer Tyler Beardsley finished the game up with three consecutive outs in the ninth inning, including two strikeouts.

“Max [Karnos] pounded the strike zone, and the ball moves a lot which gives the guys a chance to play defense behind him,” said Sac State head coach Reggie Christiansen. “And I feel like if we get to the eighth and ninth inning with the lead, we have a great chance to win.”

Sac State picked up right where they had left off in game one of the three-game series. Chris Lewis led off the bottom of the first inning with a double down the left field line. Matt Smith followed with an RBI single through the left side of the infield. Smith advanced to second on a balk by the Northern Colorado starting pitcher, and Andrew McWilliam scored Smith on an RBI single to left field to give the Hornets an early 2-0 lead.

Northern Colorado put a run on the board in the top of the fourth inning. Cole Maltese led the inning off with a single through the left side of the infield. Maltese stole second and scored on an RBI single up the middle by Dan Reese.

In the top of sixth inning, shortstop Trent Goodrich made a key play to keep the lead for the Hornets. With a runner on first base, a hard ground ball was hit up the middle of the infield as a diving Goodrich corralled the ball and glove-flipped it to second baseman Brandon Hunley, who completed the double play. If this ball had made it past the infield, Northern Colorado would have tied the game up at two runs apiece.

“That was a big time play that really kept us in the game and really provided momentum in our dugout,” Christiansen said.

Sac State posted another run on the scoreboard in the bottom of the seventh inning. Bronson Grubbs led off with a line drive to center field which made it past the diving Northern Colorado center fielder. The ball rolled all the way to the fence which allowed Grubbs to reach third base with a stand-up triple. Lewis followed with a single through the left side of the infield to score Grubbs and extend the lead to two runs.

Sac State added a couple of insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth inning on two errors, after a double to left center field by McWilliam.

“Winning is fun, and these guys love being around each other,” Christiansen said. “They were excited to celebrate this win and be able to wake up tomorrow to do it again.”

The Sac State offense was led by Lewis, who went three for five with two doubles, a run scored, and an RBI. McWilliam went two for four with a double, a run scored and an RBI. Grubbs hit a triple and had a run scored. Smith went one for four with a run scored and an RBI. Hunley added a hit and a run scored, and Goodrich added a hit as well.

Sac State will try to complete their second straight Western Athletic Conference sweep as the Hornets take on Northern Colorado again on Sunday at noon at John Smith Field.