Series Recap: Offense shines for Sac State baseball on way to series win

Hornet score 29 runs over the weekend, enjoy 3-1 start over North Dakota State


Dominique Williams

(L-R) Freshman first baseman Braden Frank, junior third basemen Jorge Bojorquez, freshman shortstop Wehiwa Aloy and junior second basemen Josh Rolling chat during a pitching change on Saturday, Feb. 18, 2023, at John Smith Field. Sac State rallied from a 4-1 deficit to beat North Dakota State 8-6, with the Hornets offense scoring 29 runs on the weekend to push them to 3-1 to start the year.

Isaac Streeter

Sacramento State opened its 2023 baseball season with a homestand against the North Dakota State Bison at John Smith Field. The Hornets picked up three wins out-of-four on the weekend. 

Friday: Hornets open up season 1-0 with 5-3 win over Bison 

Sac State got to kick off the 2023 season with a 5-3 win over NDSU Friday night at John Smith Field. 

Hornets’ Junior righthander Noah Takacs got the start on the mound on opening night and showed out. He picked up the first win for the pitching staff, going five innings with seven strikeouts, two hits and only one run allowed. 

The Hornets found themselves behind early when Takacs got taken deep for a solo shot by NDSU’s senior second baseman Druw Sackett in the top of the first inning. 

“I mean, it is what it is,” Takacs said. “It was the first inning so I had to go out there and just pound the zone and give my team a chance to get a win.” 

This would be the only time in the contest Sac State would trail. 

The hits came alive early for Sac State as five-of-nine batters reached base in the bottom of the first inning. Senior catcher/first basemen Martin Vincelli-Simard and junior second basemen Josh Rolling led the way for the Hornets offense. The pair combined to go 4-8 with four RBIs, two extra base-hits and two runs scored. 

A shaky ninth inning by senior pitcher Trey Goodrich allowed NDSU to come within two runs of tying. Goodrich was able to shake it off and deliver the Hornets the first win of the year.

Saturday: Hornets rally back from 4 run deficit to beat Bison 8-6, start season 2-0 

In just the second game of the season the Hornets got a major opportunity to prove themselves offensively, scoring 6 unanswered runs on their way to a come from behind win.

Junior right handed pitcher Kevin Haynes got the start for the Hornets after primarily serving as a reliever in the 2022 season. His debut was shaky as he pitched two innings, walked three batters and gave up three earned runs. 

Haynes was pulled at the top of the third inning and the bullpen pitched the rest of the way. Junior righthander Evan Gibbons was among the four other pitchers who saw time in the game and picked up the win after three innings of work and fanning three. 

Once again, the offense led the way for the Hornets. Bats came alive in the bottom of the fifth inning despite trailing NDSU 5-1. 

Junior designated hitter Cesar Valero (3-4, 2B, 2 RBIs) and sophomore left fielder Jeffery Heard (1-3, HR, 2 RBIs, BB) had monster days for the Hornets. The duo led the fifth inning rally to tie, with Valero’s double and Heard’s homerun coming on back to back at bats and all four of their RBIs coming on these two swings. 

“It feels pretty good obviously, being able to hit a homer especially in a spot like that,” Heard said. “Just trusting that what my coaches have been telling me the whole fall, all spring and thankfully I’m able to apply it to a game.” 

Heard’s homerun was the first of the year for Sac State. 

Doubles from freshman shortstop Wehiwa Aloy and junior third baseman Jorge Bojorquez helped complete the comeback in the sixth inning. Preseason All-WAC selection closer Jack Zalasky pitched the ninth and picked up his first save of the year, Hornets won 8-6.

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Sunday Game 1: Hornets gut out 3-2 win over Bison 
After going 0-7 in 16 appearances and 10 starts during the 2022 season, Junior left-handed pitcher Noah Lucchesi bucked the trend. He got his first start of the season and first win ever as a Hornet.  

“Moving off of last season, obviously not the best record,” Lucchesi said. “[I] went out there with a clean slate and just tried to do my job.” 

The southpaw ended his day with five hits allowed, one earned run and a strikeout. Lucchesi was incredibly efficient, needing only 53 pitches to get through five innings of work. Zalasky got the ball in the ninth to pick up his second save of the season.

The offense slumped in the first game of the doubleheader, plating only three runs and four total hits. Bojorquez was the stand out player, hitting his first homerun of the season in the third inning. 

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Freshman first basemen Brayden Frank and Heard each collected an RBI, giving the Hornets just enough to put them over the Bison 3-2. 
Sunday Game 2: Hornets drop game 2 of doubleheader to Bison 13-4

Freshman right-handed pitcher Xavier Richards got the start in the first appearance of his collegiate career. It was over as quickly as it started for Richards after head coach Reggie Christensen made the decision to pull Richards in the top of the third inning.

“[Richards] is a freshman, first college outing,” He said. “Little bit amped up.”

Richards allowed four runs, seven hits and recorded one strikeout in two innings with the score at 4-1 when he was relieved. 

Sac State’s offense managed to come back and tie the game at 4 runs apiece following a Valero double that scored Bojorquez in the bottom of the fifth. It was the last time the Hornets would score in the game. 

Junior right-handers Zach Gagnon and Wesley Harper were sent to the mound in the bottom of the seventh. They were both making their second appearances on the weekend and allowed a combined seven runs, leaving NDSU to run away with the game. 

Christensen regretted the decision to pitch Gagnon in that spot. 

“In hindsight, probably shouldn’t have done that,” He said. “Playing four games in a weekend is really hard on pitching, especially when you don’t score as many runs as you would’ve hoped.” 

The Hornets dropped the final game of the weekend, but claimed a series victory 3-1 over NDSU. 

Next Weekend: 

Sac State will host another four game series at John Smith Field vs. The University of St. Thomas. The series opens Friday at 4 p.m.