Sac State baseball splits two-game series with Kansas Jayhawks

Hornets took game one 11-6 before falling Wednesday 6-4

Sac+State+baseball%27s+dugout+during+a+loss+against+Kansas+University+at+Hoglund+Ballpark+on+Wednesday%2C+April+28%2C+2021.+The+Hornets+split+their+two-game+series+versus+the+BIG+12+opponent+as+they+head+home+to+take+on+Grand+Canyon+University.+Photo+courtesy+of+the+University+Daily+Kansan.%0A

Sac State baseball’s dugout during a loss against Kansas University at Hoglund Ballpark on Wednesday, April 28, 2021. The Hornets split their two-game series versus the BIG 12 opponent as they head home to take on Grand Canyon University. Photo courtesy of the University Daily Kansan.

Dylan McNeill

After last weekend’s series split versus University of Northern Colorado the Hornets travelled to Lawrence, Kansas for a quick two-game series against the University of Kansas.

The Hornets (23-10, 14-6 WAC) split the series with the Jayhawks (23-19, 4-11 BIG 12) as the offense led the way, totaling 25 hits and 16 runs over the two games.

Sac State opted against using their top pitching arms, Travis Adams and Scott Randall, instead, saving them for this weekend’s conference series against Grand Canyon University, who sit directly above Sac State in the Western Athletic Conference standings.

Tuesday: Hornets rally past Kansas 11-6, score last six runs to secure victory 

Sac State’s offense was producing early and often on Tuesday. In the first inning the Hornets jumped on top 3-0 thanks to RBI hits by Ryan Walstad, Steven Moretto and Nick Iwasa. The Hornets added another run in the second inning on a Dylan McPhillips solo home run.

Reggie Christiansen, Sac State’s head coach, gave the start to Eli Saul (1-2). The freshman right-hander had a rough go of it his last time on the mound against Northern Colorado when he didn’t record an out while giving up four baserunners, all of whom came around to score that game.

Saul amended his last outing by keeping the Hornets in the game, going four innings giving up two runs. Then Christiansen turned to Rylan Tinsley (1-3) who started last Sunday but took the loss in that game. The struggles for Tinsley continued as he gave up three runs while recording just a single out. Cole Tremain (0-0) got the final two outs of the 5th before turning the ball over to Brady Rodriguez. 

Rodriguez (5-2), also returning to the bullpen after mixed results in the starting rotation, went three innings allowing one run while striking out four. A much better outing than his start in Friday’s game against University of Northern Colorado in which he only went 1 1/3 innings allowing eight runs and picking up the loss.

In the 7th inning the Hornets pushed across five runs to regain the lead by loading the bases for Moretto who singled in one. The next batter, Iwasa doubled down the left field line scoring two and putting the Hornets on top. Then pinch hitter Dawsen Bacho doubled in Moretto and Iwasa.

In the top of the 9th, Iwasa reached on a walk and scored on another pinch hit double for Sac State, this one by Martin Vincelli-Simard.

Jack Zalasky got the final three outs of the ballgame, finishing up the win for the Hornets as they held on 11-6.

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Saturday: Long ball does in the Hornets as they fall 6-4 to Kansas

In game two of the series the Hornets turned to Kevin Haynes (1-1) on the mound. The Freshman had struggled, like much of the Hornets pitching, in his last outing against Northern Colorado.

Haynes went three innings allowing just one unearned run as the Hornets got out to a early 3-1 lead thanks to a pair of sacrifice flies by Keith Torres and Dylan McPhillips and then a third inning solo homer by Vincelli-Simard.

Sac State then gave the ball to relief pitcher Max Pettey (0-0) who allowed a two-run homer to Jayhawks’ outfielder Brett Vosik to knot the game up at three.

Then in the 6th inning Iwasa hit a go-ahead RBI single to drive in Moretto, as Iwasa picked up his fifth hit of the series.

The Hornets’ lead was short-lived due to another two-run homer for the Jayhawks, this time from Tom Lichty off Travis Martizia (2-2).

The Jayhawks would tack on another run in the 8th to give them a 6-4 lead, which is where the game ended as Kansas reliever Jonah Ulane closed it out by forcing McPhillips to ground into a game-ending double play.

The Hornets return to action this weekend as they are set to host Grand Canyon University at John Smith Field with first pitch scheduled for Friday at 5:00 p.m. Available for stream here.