UC Santa Barbara earns revenge with series victory over Sac State baseball team

Gauchos take 2 of 3 from Hornets after 2019 NCAA Regional elimination


Luis Platero

Sac State junior pitcher Scott Randall throws a pitch against UC Santa Barbara on Saturday, Feb. 15 at John Smith Field. The Hornets lost two of three games to the Gauchos.

Shaun Holkko

The Sacramento State baseball team opened the 2020 season with a win Friday night but lost the final two games and the series to the University of California, Santa Barbara.

The Hornets (1-2) and Gauchos (2-1) may not be in the same conference but could be considered rivals after Sac State eliminated Santa Barbara from the 2019 NCAA Regional at Stanford and ended the Gauchos season.

Sac State began the season with a dominant win, defeating Santa Barbara in convincing fashion 6-1 on Friday night. 

“We knew they were out for blood by us knocking them out last year,” said senior pitcher Parker Brahms. “So we had a game plan going in and I know they lost a lot of guys but they came to compete and so did we.”

The Hornets got out to an early 4-0 lead against the Gauchos after three innings. Santa Barbara responded with a solo home run in the top of the fourth inning to trim the lead. Sac State added two insurance runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to secure the 6-1 victory.

“Our guys were a little nervous,” said coach Reggie Christiansen about opening day. “We ran out on the field at the beginning of the game when we were supposed to stay in the dugout before the National Anthem. So our guys had some nervous energy, but all in all, it was a good win against a really good team.”

Brahms (1-0) pitched 5 ⅔ innings for the Hornets, allowing three hits and one run while striking out seven Guachos. Junior relievers Brady Rodriguez and Travis Martizia came in and pitched the final 3 ⅓ innings to seal the opening day win.

RELATED: VIDEO: Sac State baseball team defeats UC Santa Barbara on opening day

“That was best I’ve felt in a long time in my career here,” Brahms said. “But it’s just one start and (I’m) just hoping to do it again.”

Senior outfielder Matt Smith, who was named to the All-WAC Preseason Team, led the Hornets to victory with two hits, two RBI, one run scored and one walk. Junior catcher Dawsen Bacho scored two runs with one hit, one RBI and two walks in the win.

Story continues below tweet.

“We have a lot of returners, so we set out at the beginning of the year that we want to make our first super-regional this year,” Bacho said. “This (win) is the first step of many.”

On Saturday, Santa Barbara and Sac State engaged in a pitchers duel that resulted in a 1-0 Guachos win in 11 innings. Each starter pitched six scoreless innings as the game went into extra innings knotted at zero.

Sac State junior pitcher Scott Randall, who was also named to the All-WAC Preseason Team, allowed four hits and zero walks with five strikeouts. Santa Barbara junior pitcher Zach Torra gave up three hits and three walks with seven strikeouts in the win.

The difference in the game came down to missed opportunities and strategy. Both teams failed to score with runners in scoring position throughout the game. However, it was the Gauchos’ relief pitching decision that made a difference.

Story continues below gallery.

Santa Barbara elected to have junior Conner Roberts (1-0) go the distance as the right-handed pitcher tossed five scoreless innings in relief, allowing one hit and two walks with eight strikeouts. Christiansen chose to go with a platoon of four pitchers in relief of Randall.

In the top of the 11th inning, the Gauchos scored the only run of the game when sophomore catcher Mason Eng, who came into the game in the bottom of the 10th, hit a two-out RBI double off sophomore Jack Zalasky (0-1) to give Santa Barbara the lead. The Gauchos closed the game in the 11th to secure their first victory of the season.

RELATED: Consistency is key for Sac State baseball team entering new season

In the decisive third game of the series on Sunday, the Gauchos flipped the script on the Hornets from Friday night by getting out to a 4-0 lead. Santa Barbara went on to win the game 4-2. 

“Obviously you hate to lose two out of three,” Christiansen said. “But to lose 1-0 and 4-2 as opposed to some of the scores across the country nationally when teams are getting beat 10-1. So if we can pitch, play defense and start to get a little bit better offensively, we should be alright.”

The Hornets scored two runs in the seventh inning to cut their deficit in half with an RBI single from junior outfielder Chris Gonzalez and an RBI walk with the bases loaded from senior infielder Ryan Walstad. However, in the next at bat Bacho swung on the first pitch and popped up to end the inning.

Sophomore pitcher Travis Adams (0-1) started the game for Sac State on Sunday, pitching five innings, allowing two runs and three hits with four strikeouts. Freshman Eli Saul came in to relieve Adams in the sixth inning and struggled in his first collegiate appearance. The right-hander did not record an out, allowed one hit, one walk, two hit batsmen and two runs.

Freshman Michael McGreevy (1-0) pitched 6 ⅔ innings for Santa Barbara, allowing four hits, one run and one walk with seven strikeouts. Senior Conner Dand tossed the final 2 ⅓ innings for the Gauchos, earning the save by striking out three Hornets without allowing a hit.

Story continues below video.

Sac State scored six runs in the first game but combined for only two runs in the final two games.

“You know it’s tough, baseball is a tough game,” Smith said. “You go 3-for-10, then you’re a Hall of Famer. But we’ll get back to it. We’ll scratch some hits across, we’ll start scoring runs, no doubt.”

The three Sac State starting pitchers over the weekend combined to allow only three runs in three games against the Gauchos.

“In my opinion, it’s the best we’ve looked in a while,” Randall said. “Parker’s back, like his sophomore self, not his junior self which everyone loves. I’m feeling pretty confident. And then Travis Adams looks good and healthy. So I think we’re good to go on the starting rotation.”

The Hornets will be at home for the entire month of February. Sac State will attempt to rebound in a four-game series next weekend against the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee beginning Thursday at 5 p.m.