HOW SWEEP IT IS : Sac State ranked #20 following sweep of Long Beach State

Hornets rank as high as #20 in latest national rankings after 7-0 start


Dominique Williams

Hornets infielders meet around sophomore pitcher Eli Saul on the mound at John Smith Field Feb. 18, 2022. Saul pitched Friday night to a line of 7.2 innings pitched, zero runs, four hits, and nine strikeouts against Long Beach State.

Dylan McNeill

The Hornets completed a sweep of Long Beach State this past weekend, winning each of the three games by one run. 

This marked the first time that Sac State baseball had ever swept Long Beach State in a series.

But the sweep wasn’t a surprise for everyone.

“I feel like these guys are good enough to do these things,” manager Reggie Christiansen said. “The term ‘upset’ gets thrown around but these guys believe.”

After the series sweep versus Long Beach, Sac State picked up some national notoriety, appearing in multiple national top-25 rankings. They ranked 20th in Baseball America’s rankings, 25th on USA Today’s coaches poll,24th in National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association poll, and 23rd in’s ranking.

It is the second time in school history that Sac State appeared in Div. I baseball rankings; the Hornets appeared as #24 last April

“It’s a cool moment for the program, but it’s not the end goal,” sophomore pitcher Eli Saul said. “We have a lot more goals than just gaining national attention.”

Friday: Valero’s 10th inning home run lifts Hornets 1-0

Sac State etched out a 1-0 extra-inning win over no. 6 ranked Long Beach State in an extremely well-pitched game for both sides. 

Long Beach State’s sophomore Luis Ramirez held the Hornets scoreless in over seven innings, striking out seven Hornets.    Sac State’s  Eli Saul outdueled Ramirez,  as he went 7.2 innings of shutout ball while striking out nine. 

“I just tried not to focus on last week and focus more on this week’s game plan, and executing,” Saul said. In his first start of the season, Saul went just two innings in an eventual 11-7 win over Northern Illinois; he was ranked 121st in a preseason prospect ranking from D1Baseball



Senior reliever Brady Rodriguez picked up the last out of the eighth, before turning the ball over to junior Jack Zalasky, who shut down the Dirtbags in the ninth and sent the game to extra innings. 

After nine innings of scoreless baseball, the first batter of the 10th, sophomore Cesar Valero launched his second home run of the season to put Sac State up 1-0. Zalasky returned to the mound in the 10th to close out the game – Zalasky did just that, retiring Long Beach in order with three straight ground outs to secure the 1-0 victory.

“It’s awesome to be in a spot to get to pitch in a game like that, being trusted with the ball, with our offense getting big homers,” said Zalasky. “It’s awesome to be in that situation and to be trusted in that situation.”

Saturday: Moretto’s eighth-inning homer is the difference in 5-4 win

The Hornets already matched their wins in their first six games of the season against ranked opponents from last year with two.

Freshman Noah Lucchesi pitched five shutout innings Saturday and after four shutout innings last week versus Northern Illinois has not allowed a run in his first two collegiate performances. 

Sac State got on the board early in the first inning with a run batted in groundout scoring sophomore Jorge Bojorquez that gave the Hornets a 1-0 lead. 

The Hornets kept adding and grabbing another three runs in the second inning all scored with two outs. Senior Nick Iwasa was walked with the bases loaded which scored junior Martin Vincelli-Simard. 

 Cesar Valero followed by doubling in sophomores Josh Rolling and Gunner Gouldsmith to make it a 4-0 Hornet lead. Both teams traded scoreless innings until Long Beach State got on the board after going scoreless the first 15 innings of the story. 

The inning started with Sac State pitching, hitting back-to-back Long Beach batters, then the next two batters struck out, leaving two on, with two outs. Junior infielder Tanner Carlson doubled in two to cut the Hornet lead in half and junior outfielder Chase Luttrell tripled in another run as the Dirtbags again drew closer at 4-3.

Christiansen then made the move to the bullpen for  Jack Zalasky who promptly gave up an RBI single that knotted the game at 4.  

Steven Moretto hit the go-ahead home run in the eighth and Zalasky closed out the final inning to give the Hornets a win. 

“We have a really good team, a really good program, and great players,” Christiansen said. 

Christiansen picked up his 450th win over the weekend and currently sits at 452 thus far into his Sac State career.

With the win, the Hornets clinched the series against the highly touted Long Beach State, while moving to 6-0 in the 2022 season.

Sunday: Hornets storm back from down 4-0, complete sweep with 5-4 victory 

It seemed as if Long Beach State came to play Sunday looking for vengeance for a frustrating weekend for the Dirtbags. Long Beach jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the second inning, on a pair of two-run singles by Tanner Carlson and freshman infielder Eddie Saldivar.

While it wasn’t quite as impressive as his debut no-hitter, freshman Colin Hunter dialed it in after the second inning and ended up going six innings, giving up four runs while striking out seven.

It was a slow start offensively for Sac State as they didn’t record a hit until the fourth where senior catcher Dawsen Bacho singled to put the Hornets in the hit column.

The Hornets began to mount the comeback in the seventh when sophomore catcher Carson Blatnick singled in Hornets’ freshman Colby Lunsford. 

The next batter was the Hornets’ Josh Rolling as the potential tying run, with two outs in the seventh, Rolling struck out.

In the eighth inning, the Hornets were not to be denied, as the frame began with back-to-back base hits by Gouldsmith and Bojorquez. The next batter, Cesar Valero, hit the deciding home run on Friday and another huge home run Sunday to tie the game at four. 

Manager Reggie Christiansen then went to senior reliever Brady Rodriguez, who recorded three ground outs to send the game to the ninth. 

In the ninth, Josh Rolling made up for his seventh-inning strikeout with a go-ahead solo home run to give Sac State the 5-4 lead. 

Christiansen left Rodriguez to finish it out. After a throwing error and a walk, Long Beach found the game-tying run in scoring position with just one out. The next and final batter, Tanner Carlson grounded into a game-ending double play to complete the sweep. 

“We’re fired up, that was a huge series sweep,” Zalasky said. “We’re excited we were able to go get three from them, we’re definitely riding the high, very confident.” 

The Hornets now sit at 7-0 heading into a matchup with Cal on Tuesday in Berkeley as Sac State looks for its 8th straight victory to open the season.