‘Pass the Bat’: Hornets baseball wins second conference series of year

Sac State takes two-of-three games in New Mexico despite mercy rule


Isaac Streeter

[FILE] Freshman shortstop Wehiwa Aloy takes an at bat versus UC Davis Tuesday, April 11, 2023. With his fifth inning home run on Saturday, Aloy became the all time leader in Sacramento State’s Division I history for home runs hit by a freshman with 12.

Isaac Streeter and Gabriel Llamas

Sacramento State baseball took two out of three games over WAC opponent New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, New Mexico over the weekend.

The Hornets now sit at 23-21 on the year. With 12 games left on the schedule, the Hornets must win seven to preserve their 30-win season streak that dates back to 2012 and the start of the Reggie Christiansen era.

Friday: Extra inning homers seal series-opening victory, 6-5 

Redshirt junior Evan Gibbons got the ball on a Friday for the second week in a row and put together another quality start. He went six innings and escaped the outing only giving up two runs despite allowing eight hits. 

Gibbons has been the hot hand on the mound for the Hornets as of late; this is Gibbons’ fourth start in a row going six or more innings. Over those four outings, the right-hander has only allowed six runs while striking out 14. 

“I’ve figured some things out mechanically working with [pitching coach John Wente],” Gibbons said. “Obviously things have been clicking.” 

Despite the impressive outing, Gibbons received little run support. He exited in a 2-2 tie game to give him a no decision on the day. From there, a bullpen effort of junior Cooper Rons and senior Jack Zalasky worked the game into extra innings. 

Freshman first baseman JP Smith and sophomore outfielder Jeffery Heard both hit solo home runs in the top of the 10th inning to give the Hornets a 6-4 lead. 

Junior reliever Max Pettey came in for the bottom of the 10th and allowed the Aggies to score once, but recorded the final three outs to secure the win. Pettey was credited with his first save of the year as the Hornets took the series opener. 

Saturday: Eight-run fourth inning was too much for the Hornets as the Aggies win in 7 innings, 21-9

A slow offensive start saw Sac State down by 17 runs at one point as the Hornets were routed, allowing a season-high 21 runs before getting mercy ruled in the 7th inning.

The Hornets surrendered more runs than outs collected on Saturday.

On the mound, sophomore pitcher Noah Lucchesi made the start and threw one inning. Lucchesi allowed five earned runs before being pulled in favor of the bullpen. 

Lucchesi would ultimately take the loss while seeing his record fall to 3-6 and his ERA rise to 6.70 on the season. 

Sunday: Hornets score 16 en route to Christiansen’s 500th win 

Head coach Reggie Christiansen picked up his 500th career win as a coach with Sunday’s victory over the Aggies. The win also delivered the Hornets their second conference series win of the year. 

Sac State’s offense exploded for 16 runs in the contest. Three Hornets hit home runs: senior first baseman Martin Vincelli-Simard, junior outfielder Cesar Valero and junior Josh Rolling hit two, seeing his first action of his Sac State career at shortstop on Saturday and Sunday. 

Rolling filled in nicely at shortstop, the position he’s played his whole life before becoming a centerfielder and second baseman for Sac State.

Freshman Wehiwa Aloy, the regular at shortstop, was relegated to a designated hitter role as he can “barely walk,” Christiansen said. 

Rolling ended the day with a total of three extra base hits in five at bats and didn’t strike out once. 

“I’m just trying to ‘pass the bat’,” Rolling said. “That’s what we say a lot, ‘pass the bat,’ do whatever you can to get the next person up.” 

On the pitching end, it was a bullpen effort with five pitchers seeing work in the outing. 

Freshman Xavier Richards was credited with the win and earned high praise from Christiansen for his three and two-thirds innings of work without a run allowed and striking out five. 

“The guy who really saved our season was Xavier Richards,” Christiansen said. “If he doesn’t come in and do what he did today, from a mathematical standpoint, we’d really be on the outside looking in trying to get into [the WAC tournament].” 

This Week: 

Sac State will travel to Fresno State Tuesday for their second match up of the year with the Bulldogs. The Hornets took the first game 9-0 on March 15. 

Overall this year, Sac State is 7-3 in midweek games. 

On Friday, they’ll return to John Smith Field after nine games away to take on University of Texas at Rio Grande Valley for a three game conference series. 

The Hornets currently are 9-12 in conference play and sit in 10th place. UTRGV is 10-11 and currently holds the 7th spot. 

“This is a big weekend for us. UTRGV comes to us, we’ve got the opportunity to win two out of three to keep ourselves in it,” Christiansen said. “Hopefully we can get as many people in that parking structure [as possible] and create an environment that’s tough for UTRGV and continue to try and play the best baseball we can.”