Sac State baseball team loses series against Pacific Tigers

Hornets win one out of four games


Shaun Holkko

Sac State sophomore infielder Keith Torres steps away from the plate in between pitches in a 6-2 loss to Pacific on Feb. 24 at John Smith Field. Torres hit well over the weekend going 6-17 against the Tigers over four games.

Shaun Holkko

The Sacramento State baseball team came into its second series of the 2019 season with momentum from its first series, which was quickly erased after losing three out of four games.

The Hornets (3-4) took on their rivals from the 209, the University of the Pacific Tigers (7-1), in a four game home-and-home series. The first two games of the series were played in Stockton.

Sac State got its first two runs of the game Thursday on RBIs from sophomore infielder Keith Torres and junior outfielder Matt Smith, tying the game at two in the fifth inning.

The Tigers came back in their half of the fifth inning and scored a run to retake the lead. The Hornets then evened the score in the top of the sixth inning on an unearned run, which ended up being their last run of the game.

Pacific hit a two-run home run in the bottom of the sixth inning, retaking the lead for good. In the bottom of the eighth inning, the Tigers blew the game open by scoring six runs, ultimately winning the game by a wide-margin at 11-3.

In the second game of the series, the Hornets got on the scoreboard first. Torres, freshman catcher Martin Vincelli-Simard and freshman outfielder Trevor Doyle each had an RBI in the first inning.

Sac State failed to score the rest of the game as the Tigers scored six runs between the third and seventh inning to win the game, 6-3.

The Hornets dropped both games in Stockton, being outscored 17-6 as the offense struggled to put runs on the board.

“We didn’t play our best baseball, that’s for sure,” Sac State head coach Reggie Christiansen said. “That’s not the type of baseball that we are usually accustomed to showing our fans. I’m disappointed in the way we played.”

Sac State returned home to John Smith Field on Saturday, desperate for a win against the Tigers. Saturday’s game was a pitchers’ duel between Sac State sophomore right-handed pitcher Scott Randall and Pacific junior right-handed pitcher Ryan Shreve.

Randall pitched seven innings, allowing only three hits, one earned run and one walk with seven strikeouts. Shreve had nearly identical stats, pitching six innings, allowing three hits, one earned run and one walk with eight strikeouts.

Vincelli-Simard had a big game with two hits, three RBIs and one run scored. One of the hits happened to be Vincelli-Simard’s first career home run, a bomb hit to Parking Structure I in left field in the bottom of the seventh inning.

He also came back up in the bottom of the eighth inning to hit a single to right field, scoring two more runs.

The Hornets handed the Tigers their first loss of the 2019 season on Saturday with a 5-2 win.

Sac State came back out on Sunday with the goal of splitting the four game, home-and-home series.

The Hornets started junior right-handed pitcher Austin Roberts on the mound following his lights-out, seven inning performance against North Dakota State on Feb. 17.

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Roberts gave up a two-run home run in the first inning and settled back down in the second inning. Christiansen pulled Roberts from the game after only two innings and 38 pitches.

With the game still in control at 2-1, Christiansen said he made the move not because of an injury, but to be cautious.

“He threw over 100 pitches in his first time out last week,” Christiansen said. “His arm was a little sore so it was more precautionary. He’s a big part of who we are and I felt like he didn’t look right today so I decided to get him out of there.”

Sac State didn’t take long in game four to get on the scoreboard, as Smith hit a single to right field to bring home one run in the bottom of the first inning.

With runners on the corners in the bottom of the fourth inning, freshman infielder Evan Gibbons laid down a sacrifice bunt to score Bacho from third base, tying the game at two.

Pacific scored four more runs between innings five and eight to take a 6-2 lead.

The Hornets were unable to make a comeback as they lost the series to the Tigers, 3-1, dropping to 3-4 overall on the season.

Sac State struggled fielding as the team had three errors on Sunday and six total in the series. The only game the Hornets went without an error was on Saturday, the one game they won.

“When things go bad, they snowball and we continue to make mistakes,” Christiansen said. “[We] had a really hard time fielding our position on the mound this weekend. Defensively, I felt like there were plays that should’ve been made by our infielders as well.”

Torres attributes the fielding errors to a lack of communication among the team.

“I think it was a lack of communication throughout the whole entire game,” Torres said. “If we communicate better, we make those plays.”

Torres hit well in the series, going 6-17 in the four games, with three extra-base hits, two RBIs and three runs scored.

“I’ve been working on my hitting,” Torres said. “Coach [Christiansen] has been talking about timing and it just started to click for me to start going earlier. I was able to see pitches better.”

Sac State now goes on the road for four straight games for a three game series against No. 4 UCLA over the weekend and one game at Saint Mary’s on Mar. 5.

The Hornets road game against bitter-rival, the UC Davis Aggies (3-4), was originally scheduled for Tuesday but was postponed twice due to rain and the makeup date is now to be determined.

Sac State will take on UC Davis at home at John Smith Field on Mar. 12 at 7 p.m.

“[UC Davis is] certainly a rival for our school,” Christiansen said. “For President Nelsen, the athletic department and boosters, it’s a big deal. It certainly better be a big deal for our guys as well.”