Sac State baseball team wins 2019 WAC tournament

Hornets win 6 games in a row after losing postseason opener


Courtesy of Daryl Webb/WAC

The Sac State baseball team celebrates winning the WAC tournament against Grand Canyon University on Sunday, May 26 at Hohokam Stadium in Mesa, Ariz. The Hornets defeated the Antelopes 5-4.

Shaun Holkko

The Sacramento State baseball team began the 2019 Western Athletic Conference tournament facing adversity following a 4-2 loss to Utah Valley University in the opening game on Wednesday.

“Our mindset was to make sure it doesn’t happen again or we’re going home,” Sac State junior pitcher Austin Roberts said. “Sacramento is great and all but I sure as heck didn’t want to come back that soon.”

After the opening game loss, Sac State made history as the first team to lose the opening game of the WAC tournament and go on to win six elimination games in a row to win the conference championship.

After entering the tournament as the No. 3 seed, the Hornets became the first team in WAC tournament history to eliminate all other five teams playing in the tournament.

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“I feel like after we lost, our motto was that we were playing with house money and had nothing to lose,” sophomore catcher Dawsen Bacho said. “We all really believed in each other and played with no regrets.”

Bacho, who was named the tournament MVP after hitting .323 with three home runs, two doubles and eight RBIs, said it was incredible to be a part of the Hornets’ postseason run.

“I’ve never been on a team that is so close together and has so much belief in each other and one another,” Bacho said. “Once we lost that game we really just said, ‘Screw it, why not us, why can’t we do this?’ We played a lot looser and were playing to win.”

Along with Bacho, junior infielder Ryan Walstad, junior outfielder Matt Smith and sophomore pitcher Travis Martizia were also named to the WAC All-Tournament team.

Sac State’s opponent for the championship was No. 4 seed Grand Canyon University (36-24, 18-9 WAC), which the Hornets had to defeat twice after advancing from the losers’ side of the bracket. The first game was tied at three after nine innings, which led to the game going into extra innings.

With one out in the bottom of the eleventh inning, sophomore catcher Dylan McPhillips doubled down the left field line to earn the walk-off win for the Hornets.

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Sac State jumped out to a 5-1 lead in the championship game on Sunday. The Antelopes were able to score three times in the bottom of the eighth inning to trim the lead to one, but the Hornets held on to win the championship game 5-4 and advance to the NCAA regional.

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“I think they’re resilient and understand in baseball there’s not a shot clock and you need to get 27 outs,” Sac State head coach Reggie Christiansen said. “Our guys continue to fight and had some things go our way. So many magical moments with different individuals that allowed us to do what we did over the last two days.

“We’ve won 39 games with a team that hit .235. You’ve got to have some toughness about you to be able to accomplish something like that.”

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The Hornets (39-23, 18-9 WAC) started their win streak by defeating No. 5 seed California State University, Bakersfield (24-35, 12-15 WAC) 7-3 on Thursday.

The next day, following a 6-2 victory against No. 2 seed University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (34-21, 19-8 WAC), the Hornets defeated No. 6 seed Utah Valley University (15-41, 9-18 WAC) 6-4 in the second game of a doubleheader.  

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On Saturday, the Hornets faced the top seed and reigning WAC champions New Mexico State University (38-17, 19-8 WAC), which the Hornets lost to in last year’s WAC tournament championship game.

The two teams had to play extra innings after being tied at four after nine innings. In the top of the tenth inning, the Hornets scored twice to take the lead and went on to win 6-4.

Sac State will find out their NCAA tournament destiny on Monday at 9 a.m. when it’s revealed where they’ll be playing in the regionals.