Sac State Baseball road trip ends with third straight series loss

Homesick Hornets drop to 3-7 on road in 2023


Isaac Streeter

[FILE]Sophomore outfielder Jeffery Heard celebrates a run scored with a teammate at John Smith Field Saturday, March 18, 2023. Heard hit his third home run of the year in Saturday’s 15-13 loss to Stephen F. Austin State.

Isaac Streeter

The final destination of a week and a half long road trip took Sacramento State baseball to Nacogdoches, Texas to face off with WAC opponent Stephen F. Austin State Lumberjacks. 

The Hornets dropped two out of three games to conclude their 10 day road trip. 

Thursday: Hornet bats chopped down by Lumberjacks in 7-1 loss 

Sac State came out sluggish, plating only one run in Thursday’s series opener, coming on a sacrifice fly from freshman first baseman JP Smith that scored junior third baseman Jorge Bojorquez in the sixth inning. 

Despite the six-run loss, Sac State only had two fewer hits than SFA’s nine. Junior second baseman Gunner Gouldsmith produced a three-hit day for his seventh multihit contest of the year. 

Junior pitcher Jasper Nelson made his third consecutive series opener start, throwing five total innings. Nelson kept the Hornet’s within striking distance, only allowing two runs through his outing. 

The hope of a Hornet comeback quickly faded away in the fifth inning. 

With runners on the corners, Nelson gave up a two-run double. This was followed by an error that scored the runner from second, putting SFA up 5-0. 

Sac State was unable to mount the comeback and dropped the series opener. 

Saturday Game 1: Hornets capture lone win of series inflicting mercy rule, 17-3

Friday’s game was rescheduled into a double header on Saturday after a tornado warning in Nacogdoches. 

The Hornets came out firing on all cylinders after a players discussion following Thursday’s loss recalibrated their expectations, according to Bojorquez. 

“We struggled out the gate, lost some hard ones to [Abilene Christian University] and [Louisiana Tech],” Bojorquez said. “Guys got to talk through what they’re going through and help each other out.”

Five players — Gouldsmith, Smith, Bojorquez, freshman shortstop Wehiwa Aloy and senior first baseman Martin Vincelli-Simard — homered en route to the win. All nine players in the starting lineup for the Hornets recorded at least one hit. 

The offensive explosion was the highest scoring affair Sac State has recorded this year, and the highest dating back to April 15, 2022, versus Seattle University. 

On the mound, sophomore pitcher Noah Lucchesi recorded his highest strikeout count of the year, punching out six in six and one-third innings of work. Nearly half of all of Lucchesi’s strikeouts came in the first game Saturday, with his season total now sitting at 13. 

The Hornets only deployed one reliever, sophomore pitcher Tyler Stewart, who recorded the final two outs of the seventh inning before the game was called for mercy rule. 

Saturday Game 2: Lumberjacks win series closer 15-13 in heartbreaking fashion for Hornets 

The second game of the double header saw offensive fireworks from both teams, as the Hornets and Lumberjacks combined for 28 total runs. 

Aloy hit his seventh home run of the year in the second inning, a mark that leads the team. Redshirt freshman Griffin Harrison also found his way at the plate, picking up his first collegiate home run in the third inning to give Sac State a 9-8 lead. 

Pitching was not a strength for either team. Sac State started pitcher junior Evan Gibbons, who allowed eight runs in one and one-third innings of work before being relieved by junior pitcher Max Pettey. 

Pettey was relieved in the seventh inning by senior closer Jack Zalasky, the preseason All-WAC selection leads the nation in saves and leads all Sac State relievers in strikeouts with 24. He’s as good as it gets in these late game situations. 

Defending a 13-11 lead, disaster struck for the closer. With bases loaded, Zalasky hung a change up which SFA’s Clayton Loranger hammered for a grand slam. The Lumberjacks took a 15-13 lead that they never relinquished. 

“More times than not I think I put that guy away,” Zalasky said. “He hit it out of the yard, you know. Wasn’t my best pitch and I wish I could have it back — but hey, it’s baseball.” 

Despite a 3-6 start in WAC conference play head coach Reggie Christiansen spoke about the optimism he has going forward by drawing on the past.

“We’re doing everything we can to get our guys going a little bit.” Christiansen said. “A year ago we were in a similar spot… we got to the 30 win mark and got to the tournament. In 2017 we were 12-12 in conference play, we got hot at the end and won a conference tournament and went to a regional. It’s really up to them.”

Next Week: 

Sac State will take on Menlo College Monday, April 3, 2023, before a three game WAC conference homestand versus Utah Valley beginning Thursday, April 6, 2023.