Sac State baseball team go 5-4 on season-long road trip

Hornets take both series against WAC foes


Shaun Holkko

Freshman catcher Martin Vincelli-Simard stands in the box and prepares for a pitch while his teammates look on from the bench in a 5-4 win April 9 over CSU Bakersfield at John Smith Field. The Hornets went 5-4 on a season-long nine-game road trip.

Shaun Holkko

The Sacramento State baseball team went on a season-long nine-game road trip traveling to Washington and Illinois and returned home with more wins than losses.

Following a sweep of California State University, Bakersfield, the Hornets (26-14, 12-3 WAC) started the road trip at Santa Clara University.

RELATED: Sac State baseball team sweeps CSU Bakersfield

Sac State allowed seven runs in the first two innings and never came back, losing 11-0 to the Broncos, the worst loss of the 2019 season for the Hornets.

“It was one of those games where nothing really goes right,” said sophomore catcher Dawsen Bacho. “We just played bad the whole game and it’s not who we are as a team. Everyone has those days, one of those off days where we struggled as a whole in every aspect of baseball.”

The Hornets then traveled north to Washington to take on Western Athletic Conference foe Seattle University.

The Hornets and Redhawks played a doubleheader to open the three-game series. The third game of the series was moved from Sunday to Friday to avoid postponement or cancelation of the last game due to projected weather forecasts.

Seattle took game one of the series with a 4-2 win aided by a three-run sixth inning by the Redhawks.

Sac State came out swinging in game two following the close loss. Junior outfielder Matt Smith opened the game with a solo home run to left field in the first inning. Seattle responded with three runs in the bottom of the first to take the lead and momentum.

The Hornets scored one run in the third inning and two in the fourth to retake the lead 4-3 after four innings. Sac State increased their lead with five insurance runs, scoring two in the eighth inning and three in the ninth.

Sac State went on to win game two of the doubleheader decisively 9-3 after scoring eight unanswered runs.

The Hornets came into game three looking to win their sixth consecutive series. The two teams were tied 2-2 after five innings in a pitchers duel.

In the top of the eighth inning, Smith hit a go-ahead two-run home run, his second in as many days. Sac State scored two more runs in the top of the ninth inning to win 6-2 and secure the team’s sixth consecutive series win.

“Winning any conference series is a big deal and good for our hope to win the WAC regular-season title,” Bacho said. “We all were trying to go for a sweep but we know winning a series is also big. We felt good coming out of the series because Seattle U is a good team.”

Junior right-handed pitcher Parker Brahms pitched well in the series finale against Seattle. Brahms pitched eight innings allowing five hits, two earned runs and three walks with ten strikeouts.

RELATED: Sac State sophomore pitcher continues to bring in the accolades

Sac State then traveled across the country to Normal, Illinois to take on the Illinois State Redbirds in a single game.

The game against Illinois State held extra significance due to Sac State head coach Reggie Christiansen’s relationship with the Redbirds head coach, Steve Holm.

Holm, a former MLB catcher and McClatchy High School alumni, got his coaching start from Christiansen and was the pitching coach at Sac State from 2013 to 2016 before moving on to another school.

Sac State scored first in the fifth inning on a solo home run from sophomore catcher Dylan McPhillips. Illinois returned the favor with a two-run home run in the bottom half of the inning. The Hornets were unable to make the comeback and went on to lose a close contest with the Redbirds, 2-1.

“We made one bad pitch and a guy hits a two-run home run off us,” Christiansen said. “It was a tough loss but it was good to see (Holm) and good for our team to play that caliber of club. So it was a good game for us.”

The Hornets then traveled two hours north to Chicago for a three-game series against WAC opponent, Chicago State.

Sac State dominated the three-game series, sweeping the Cougars and outscoring them 30-9 over three games.

The two teams played a doubleheader to open the weekend.

Sac State won game one with a score of 13-3, ending in eight innings. The Hornets scored three runs in the top of the eighth inning to take a 10-run lead. In the WAC, if a team has a 10+ run lead after seven innings, the game automatically ends.

The Hornets and Cougars played a much closer game two, with Sac State narrowly winning 7-5. Sophomore infielder Steven Moretto hit a go-ahead two-run home run to right center field in the top of the ninth inning to take the win for the Hornets.

Sac State came out in game three and dominated, winning 10-1. Brahms pitched well again going seven innings allowing five hits, one earned run and three walks with five strikeouts.

“Given being on the road again, (with) brutal conditions in terms of the weather, I thought our guys played hard and had really good focus,” Christiansen said. “I thought we played well in all six phases. It’s very difficult to sweep anybody, especially on the road. Chicago State had not been swept at that point so it was good for us.”

The Hornets returned home to California and traveled by bus to the Bay Area for the last game of the trip to take on the University of California, Berkeley Bears.

Sac State won the first matchup of the season against Cal at home, 6-0.

RELATED: Sac State baseball team shuts down Cal 6-0

The Bears came out swinging against the Hornets, scoring six runs in the top of the first inning. Sac State was unable to mount a comeback as they lost to Cal 12-4.

“Cal looked like a different team this game,” Bacho said. “They came out swinging (and) their offense came out ready to hit. They played better than us that day. I still think we have positives that happened in that game that we can carry over into the weekend against New Mexico (State.)”

The Hornets went 5-4 on the season-long nine-game road trip and are currently in first place in the WAC.

Sac State now returns home to John Smith Field for the first time in over two weeks. The Hornets will take on the New Mexico State Aggies (28-10, 11-4 WAC) who are currently tied for second place in the WAC.

“People on the outside are going to make a bigger deal out of it,” Christiansen said. “Certainly there are some things to make a big deal out of. You play against a team as offensive as they are, they are a game behind us (in the WAC standings) and they’re the team that knocked us out of the (WAC) tournament and went on to play in the NCAA tournament (last season.)

“There’s a good storyline but I think our guys are mature and have grown up a lot.”