Weekend recap: Sac State baseball drops fourth conference series of year

Hornets sit at even 18-18 through 36 games played


Isaac Streeter

Junior pitcher Cooper Rons throws a pitch to freshman catcher Jacob Cortez Sunday, April 16, 2023, at John Smith Field. Rons threw three and one-third innings on Sunday, setting a career high for strikeouts with six.

Isaac Streeter

Sacramento State Baseball hosted the University of Texas at Arlington Mavericks for a three game conference series. 

The Hornets dropped the bookends of the series, going 1-2 on the weekend. Their record now sits at an even 18-18 on the season.

Friday: Late rally by Hornets foiled by Mavericks in 9-7 loss 

Sophomore pitcher Noah Lucchesi started Friday’s game for the Hornets, throwing four and one-third innings and allowing five runs on eight hits. The southpaw was credited with the loss, dropping his record to 3-4 in his 2023 campaign. 

Three Hornets, senior first basemen Martin Vincelli-Simard, junior outfielder Cesar Valero and sophomore outfielder Jeffery Heard, went deep in Friday’s contest. Valero and Heard’s shots went for extra RBIs and five of the Hornet’s seven runs were scored on the long ball. 

Vincelli-Simard saw his first action since April 1. The senior had been held out for six games while he was dealing with some tightness in his back, he said. His return to the lineup was felt as he produced five extra base hits on the weekend. 

“I just needed some time to get my back straight,” Vincelli-Simard said. “[I] did a lot of rehab with our athletic trainer Sean [Carrington].”

At the bottom of the ninth inning down 9-6, Vincelli-Simard and Valero both got on base. 

Valero managed to score on a wild pitch to cut the deficit to two runs, but junior catcher Carson Blatnick popped the first pitch he saw for the final out. The Hornets dropped game one 9-7.

Saturday: Six-run eighth inning propels Hornets to lone win of series 

Sac State entered the eighth inning of Saturday’s game trailing the Mavericks 3-2. 

The Hornets made eleven plate appearances in the 8th inning, with freshman shortstop Wehiwa Aloy and Vincelli-Simard having two each. 

The six runs Sac State rattled off in the inning primarily came on singles, walks and throwing errors. The only extra base hit of the inning came on a double from Vincelli-Simard. 

On the mound, redshirt junior pitcher Evan Gibbons had his best outing of the year, head coach Reggie Christiansen said. 

“If we don’t get seven [innings] out of [Gibbons,] we could’ve got our butts swept,” Christiansen said. “Gibbons was good — really, really good.” 

The right hander threw a career-high seven innings, striking out three and only allowing two runs. Despite Gibbons’ performance, he was credited a no decision on the day.

Junior reliever Max Pettey came on in the eighth inning and was credited with the win, putting the left hander at a perfect 3-0 mark on the season. 

Sunday: ‘Today might be a day that comes back to haunt us’, Hornets lose series finale 12-10 

Junior pitcher Jasper Nelson made the Sunday start. Christiansen said the expectation was only for Nelson to throw two innings as a precaution, since Nelson said he was “tired” before his expected Friday start. The right hander exited the game after making the final out of the second inning and ended his day allowing two hits, one strikeout and one run. 

The Hornets pieced the game together from there, which began on a rough outing from freshman pitcher Xavier Richards. Richards faced six batters, allowed three runs and recorded only one out before being pulled in favor of junior pitcher Cooper Rons. 

Rons came in and looked dominant immediately, posting career highs in innings pitched with three and a third as well as six strikeouts. The junior was quick to thank his freshman catcher,  Jacob ‘Cubbie’ Cortez, for helping him through the outing. 

“Slider was just working,” Rons said. “Cubbie back there makes it pretty easy on me. [I’m] just trying to give our team a chance to win when I come in.” 

Despite the successful outing, Rons was credited with the loss and pulled from the game after giving up two runs in the sixth. 

The Hornets were successful at the plate, with Heard and junior second baseman Josh Rolling both hitting home runs. Vincelli-Simard put together a three RBI day en route to ten runs scored. 

What lost the Hornets the game was the five defensive errors they committed, Christiansen said. 

“When you make that many mistakes you really don’t deserve to win,”  Christiansen said. “It’s not good right now. We have to be better.” 

The loss drops Sac State to 6-9 in WAC play. Christiansen said he is  generally optimistic about his team’s ability to pull it together down the stretch while coming to terms with the reality of where his team sits. 

“We’re in tenth place,” Christiansensaid. “These next two weeks are big… we need to be .500. If we can get to .500 in conference play I think we have a chance [to make the tournament]… Today might be a day that comes back to haunt us.” 

This Week

Sacramento State will travel to Palo Alto, California, Tuesday to take on Stanford — the ninth ranked team in the nation. 

Beginning Friday, the Hornets will take on WAC opponent Seattle University in Seattle for a three-game series.