Sac State baseball suffers first loss of the season to UC Berkeley


Andrew Madsen/KLC Fotos

Sac State sophomore pitcher Max Pettey throws against UC Berkeley March 1, 2022 at Evans Diamond in Berkeley in what ended as a 6-2 loss for the Hornets. Tuesday was Pettey’s first start of 2022, pitching two shutout innings.

Dylan McNeill

Sac State baseball suffered their first loss of the 2022 season 6-2  against the Cal Bears at Evans Diamond in Berkeley, California Tuesday night.

The Hornets’ 7-0 start was the best in the school’s Division I history, earning Sac State a spot in four different national top 25 rankings, and in the Hornets’ first game of 2022 as a ranked team, was also their first game of 2022 suffering a defeat.

“Cal (UC Berkeley) is a good team, we didn’t play particularly well in any phase, it’s just baseball, you’re not going to win them all,” Sac State manager Reggie Christiansen said. “Our guys can press the reset button and get ready to get back on another run here this weekend.”

The Hornets decided against a traditional starting pitcher on Tuesday, using a total of nine pitchers over the eight innings pitched, with no one Hornet pitching over two innings.

“We got four games this weekend to make sure we’re in a good position to give ourselves a chance to win,” Christiansen said. ”That was the direction we elected to go and we had it mapped out and scripted, and it went okay for about three innings.” 

Sophomore Max Pettey and freshman Tyler Stewart kept the Bears off the scoreboard for the first three innings, but in the fourth inning sophomore Kevin Haynes allowed a two-run double off the bat of Cal’s junior infielder Keshawn Ogans, giving Cal a 2-0 lead.

It was a mostly quiet night for the Hornets’ offense as they didn’t record a baserunner until the third inning when sophomore catcher Carson Blatnick hit a single.

Sac State mustered just five hits and only eight total baserunners. 

It looked as if the Hornets had another comeback up their sleeve as the sixth inning saw former Cal Bear and Sac State sophomore outfielder Josh Rolling hit a double to start the inning; one of Rolling’s two hits on the night. 

“Obviously we wanted to get a win, with me being there last year, I was pretty excited to play them but it was just another game, and being ranked now we know we kind of have a target on our back,  ” said Rolling, who spent the 2021 season as a Cal Bear.

Two batters later, sophomore shortstop Jorge Bojorquez tied the game with a two-run homer over the glove of leaping Bears’ freshman center fielder Rodney Green Jr. to even the game at two.

“I saw a good pitch to hit and put a good swing on it,” Bojorquez said. “I was just happy to get my team back in the game.”

But the game was not tied for long. In the bottom of the sixth, the Bears answered with four runs to regain the lead.

The Hornet pitching staff allowed seven walks in the game, including three in the sixth inning alone. 

The Hornets appeared to be on the cusp of making things interesting in the seventh when they loaded the bases after a walk, single, hit-by-pitch, with nobody out. However, the Hornets did not score as three straight strikeouts ended the threat. 

Despite loading the bases in the seventh, the Hornets put the ball in play just once more the remainder of the night, resulting in a groundout. 

Sac State’s first nine hitters of the game went 1-9 with a single with three strikeouts. And the last nine Sac State hitters fared even worse, going 0-9 with eight strikeouts.

“We didn’t really play our best baseball today, the bats were a little slow, but we’ll pick it up this weekend,” Bojorquez said.

The loss comes just a day after the Hornets received their highest national rank in school history when Baseball America ranked them #20 in the nation.

“We want to win as much as possible, but at some point, every team is going to lose,” Rolling said. ”We still have a lot of room to improve.” 

The Hornets return to action Friday at home against Houston Baptist University in the first of four games against the Huskies this weekend. The first pitch is set for 2:00 p.m. on Friday at John Smith Field.