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The student news site of Sacramento State University

The State Hornet

The student news site of Sacramento State University

The State Hornet

Student news without fear or favor

Sac State gets plunked in opening day doubleheader but finishes with walk-off win

Hornets move to 1-2 after their first series
Malachi Parker
Sophomore outfielder Ryan Christiansen swings at an oncoming pitch in the first game against Loyola Marymount Friday, Feb. 16, 2024. Christiansen had 8 plate appearances in the double-header.

Sacramento State baseball hosted the Loyola Marymount Lions at home for an opening day weekend series, with a doubleheader on Friday and a rescheduled game on Sunday.

The Hornets dropped the first two games in the series, but won on Sunday with a tense walk-off passed-ball win. They now sit at 1-2 for the beginning of the season.

Friday, Game 1: Sac State 0, LMU 4

Sac State’s defense was on point with only one error in the whole game, but they couldn’t make any offensive moves as LMU had an excellent selection of pitches to shut them down.

LMU had runs in the third, fourth, sixth and ninth inning which created a solid lead against the Hornets. Senior outfielder Cesar Valero had his first hit of the year, while senior shortstop Gunner Gouldsmith laced a single in the sixth, but that wasn’t enough offense to challenge the Lions.

For the Hornets, they didn’t come with a game plan for the Lions. Since this was the first series of the season, the team focused on self-scouting instead. This year’s team has a lot of new players added to the roster, such as junior pitchers Brady Chavez and Andrew Monson.

“We got a lot of new faces,” Sac State head coach Reggie Christiansen said. “When you have so many new players like us and it’s the first series of the year. I don’t think there’s really as much game planning or scouting as you normally see.”

Christiansen said he was not too worried about the opening games, but more concerned with the composition of the team.

“We just have to play better,” Christiansen said. “It’s gonna take some time to get some of these guys going.”

Junior starting pitcher Tyler Stewart took the loss, allowing two runs in five innings, while striking out seven hitters. Senior pitcher Cooper Rons allowed two hits while striking out two in two scoreless innings.

Friday, Game 2: Sac State 10, LMU 12

The Hornets broke out in the middle innings, coming back to score eight runs collectively throughout the sixth, seventh and eighth innings.

The Lions battled back in the ninth inning scoring six runs to tie up the game. Senior pitcher Jasper Nelson gave up hits, two walks and three runs. Sac State then brought in junior pitcher Ian Winterhalder, only for LMU’s graduate infielder Benny Casillas to hit a bomb into left field to cap off those runs and tie the game.

LMU then scored two runs in the eleventh inning via a home run and single, which halted the Hornets to sweep the doubleheader.

The big story around this doubleheader however was junior outfielder Matt Masciangelo being hit by a pitch seven times in eight plate appearances. Masciangelo might need a name, image and likeness deal with Advil after the series.

“It’s crazy that all happened,” Masciangelo said. “Obviously I was trying to put together some good at bats, but it ended up just kinda coming my way you know.”

RELATED: Sac State outfielder hit seven times in eight plate appearances

Even with the two straight losses the players weren’t too affected by what took place. Sophomore catcher Jacob “Cubby” Cortez said he wasn’t worried too much after the doubleheader concluded.

“I felt pretty good, blocked a couple balls and received as much as I can,” Cortez said. “It’s just how the game plays.The only thing you can control is how you compete and how much effort you give.”

Junior left fielder Matt Masciangelo diving back to first base on a pick-off as senior first baseman Brendan Bobo attempts to tag him Friday, Feb. 16, 2024. Masciangelo ended the series with 8 hit-by-pitches in 13 plate appearances. (Malachi Parker)

Junior center fielder Tyler White said he had no negative thoughts about the games and was just happy to be playing.

“Opening day is everything,” White said. “It’s a dream to just come out and start. We came up short twice, but now we look forward to the next.”

Sunday: Sac State 9, LMU 8

This was a game of rallying back and forth as both teams were dead even with the Lions taking the advantage due to an early hiccup by the Hornets, and scoring on a passed ball at plate.

Sac State rallied back with a walk by sophomore first baseman JP Smith and a double by Valero, moving Smith into scoring position at third and a sacrifice fly to center hit by White tied the game 1-1.

Even when LMU answered back with five runs in the top of the sixth, Sac State fired back with a double by Gouldsmith and a left-center bomb by Smith. They scored five runs in the sixth and eighth but the Lions hit back-to-back home runs in the top of the ninth to retake the lead.

Sac State gritted their teeth in the bottom of the ninth and answered back to tie up the game 8-8 with the bases loaded. On a wild pitch by LMU, White scored on a passed ball at the plate and walked it off to secure the Hornets’ first win of the season.

“I was looking for it,” White said. “The pitcher is one of my close friends. I went to school with him at Long Beach and so that was awesome to get that off of him.”

Even though Sac State came up short on Friday, they brushed it off like it was nothing and put things together following the losses.

“I thought it was great today,” Christiansen said about the Sunday game. “It was good to see them finish the way they did today.”

Sac State sits at 1-2 and hosts the 3-0 Fresno State Bulldogs at John Smith Field on Wednesday. Then the Hornets head south to face UC Santa Barbara for a three game series in Fresno, California.

“Hopefully we’ll be able to even our record out and go two and two,” Masciangelo said.

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About the Contributor
Kai Arellano
Kai Arellano, Sports Staffer
(he/him) Kai Arellano is a junior transfer from Los Medanos College, majoring in journalism. He has won fourth place in the 2023 State Publication Awards for Illustration presented by the Journalism Association of Community Colleges. This is also his first semester on The State Hornet. In his spare time he enjoys watching baseball and competing in mixed martial arts.
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