SERIES RECAP: Sac State baseball couldn’t hold lead Sunday, drop two-of-three to GCU

Hornets drop first conference series since March


Dylan McNeill

[FILE PHOTO] Sophomore pitcher Eli Saul throws against California Baptist on Friday, April 29, 2022 at John Smith Field. Saul threw his first complete game in a 121-pitch effort in Friday’s win over Grand Canyon University.

Dylan McNeill

After five straight weekends of series wins for Sacramento State baseball over Western Athletic Conference opponents, first-place Grand Canyon University sent the Hornets home with a series loss after a crushing defeat on Sunday. 

The Hornets came into this week without their team home run leader, sophomore Cesar Valero, but were still one hit away from taking a series from GCU. 

Senior Dawsen Bacho led the way all weekend long at the plate for the Hornets, going 7-14 and earning two home runs.

The Hornets are now a hair over .500 at 24-23 and remain in third place of the WAC, going 14-13 in conference.

Friday: Hornets stay undefeated while playing behind Eli Saul, win 8-5

Hornets sophomore pitcher Eli Saul completed his first complete game of his collegiate career Friday night. Saul moved to 6-0, pickled up four strikeouts over nine innings.

 The five earned runs was a season-high Saul, but the Hornets’ manager Reggie Christiansen left him to finish with 121 pitches thrown.

Bacho and sophomore infielder Jorge Bojorquez led the way for Sac State, combining for seven hits and five runs batted in. Bacho also hit the game’s only two home runs.

“I’m just looking at it like, I got a couple weeks left, who knows what’s next for me, so might as well enjoy it and go all out last couple weeks,” Bacho said. “It was great to win, obviously, on a Friday night, on the road against a good opponent but it was a pretty fun place to hit two homers.”

The game was tied at 3 heading into the eighth inning, from there the Hornets added four runs in the eighth, and then one more in the ninth. The two scored on back-to-back wild pitches by GCU pitching and finished off with Bacho’s second bomb of the ballgame.


Saturday: Hornets fall on the road 7-4 

The Hornets had a bullpen day on Saturday rather than a conventional starting pitcher as they got three innings a piece out of sophomore relievers Kevin Haynes and Max Pettey and then one inning out of freshman Noah Lucchesi and junior Trey Goodrich. Pettey picked up the loss, moving to 2-1 on the year before Pettey allowed two runs while striking out five. 

Sophomore second baseman Josh Rolling went 2-4 with a two-run home run in the second inning. The next inning, junior Martin Vincelli-Simard had an RBI triple to score Bojorquez who went 2-4 again on Saturday.

After the 3-0 start, Sac State allowed seven straight runs before run-scoring triple in the ninth inning by senior Keith Torres.  It was too little too late, however, as GCU won 7-4.


Sunday: Hornets lose 11-10 on Mother’s Day walk-off

“It was a good battle between two good teams, “ Bojorquez said. ”We gave it our best shot, at the end of the day  we made too many mistakes to come out on top.”.

The Hornets led 10-6 heading into the bottom of the eighth with junior closer Jack Zalasky on the mound. It seemed as if the Hornets were on their way to their sixth straight WAC series win, but  GCU  had other things in mind. 

A four-run eighth inning for the Lopes evened the game with  a game-tying three-run shot by GCU sophomore outfielder Homer Bush, Jr.

In the top of the ninth, Sac State loaded the bases with just one out but failed to score and take the lead. In the Lopes’ half of the ninth, they wouldn’t make the same mistake, as Zalasky gave up back-to-back singles to open before an intentional walk to load the bases with nobody out. 

The next batter, junior outfielder Tayler Aguilar, sent one over the head of the drawn-in Hornet outfielder to drive in the winning run. 



“Tough loss, but proud of how our guys battled today,”  Christiansen said. “GCU is very good and we just came up a little short. I am sure our guys wish they had that one back.”

It was the Hornets’ first conference series loss since their defeat in March, also against  GCU.

“Hopefully we get a chance to play them in the tournament,” Bacho said.

Hornet offensive standouts included freshman outfielder Jeffrey Heard who went 2-4 with a three-run double,  junior outfielder Trevor Doyle and senior catcher Dawsen Bacho and junior first baseman Martin Vincelli-Simard, who added three hits each.

The Hornets have just three more conference games remaining with a home series against Utah Valley next weekend. Before that, they will face off against Fresno State on the road Tuesday with the first pitch scheduled for 6:00 p.m.