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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

Through rain and shine Sac State breaks even

Sac State goes 2-2 through battles with mother nature
Kai Arellano
Senior shortstop Gunner Gouldsmith preparing to throw out a runner at first against the University of Minnesota March 1, 2024. Gouldsmith has the most assists at 35 outs on the team.

Sacramento State Baseball played UC Berkeley, the University of Minnesota and the University of the Pacific to go 2-2 for a second week in a row.

They battled through weather delays to get these games in to prepare for conference next week.

Tuesday: Sac State: 1, UC Berkeley: 3

The Hornets had a drop in quality for their first road trip game against UC Berkeley on Tuesday.

Freshman pitcher Andrew Overland started the game and gave up a home run to junior catcher Caleb Lomavita in the first inning along with four hits.

The Golden Bears added two more runs in the sixth inning with another home run by junior infielder Carson Crawford and back-to-back doubles from freshman infielder Jarren Advincula and graduate student outfielder Alec Ritch.

The Hornets had the bases loaded in the eighth inning and scored one run from a sacrifice fly ball from sophomore pinch hitter Jaxon Byrd, but couldn’t capitalize any further and finished the game with only one run.

“I think the biggest thing was the energy,” senior outfielder Cesar Valero said. “There wasn’t the same energy we typically have for games.”

Valero went two for four hitting a double in the second inning and a single in the eighth. He at that time had the third-highest OPS on the team at .738 and is now at .607.

Sac State head coach Reggie Christiansen sees these games as more of a stepping stone for the team.

“It’s just some bad luck and the way we’re going right now,” Christiansen said. “We had a chance in the end and we didn’t get it done.”

Christiansen said he wants this to be a lesson for his team, so that they can learn to play better baseball in the future.

“That’s baseball,” Christiansen said. “Our hope is that the schedule we play, the arms we face, will bode for us once we get to conference play.”

RELATED: Sac State experiences highs and lows in an even weekend

Friday: Sac State: 7, Minnesota: 5

The rain would not stop the Hornets as they weathered the elements to get a victory over Minnesota.

For sophomore first baseman JP Smith, it was another big performance as he hit his fourth and fifth home run of the year. This is his second multi-home run game of the season with the first being on Feb. 21 against Fresno State.

Smith’s first home run came in the first inning where he hit a dinger into the parking structure to score junior center fielder Tyler White. Opening the game with a 2-0 lead.

Sophomore first baseman JP Smith loading to hit a home run against the University of Minnesota on March 1, 2024. Smith hit two home runs for his second multi-home run game this season. (Kai Arellano)

Newcomer freshman infielder Cameron Sewell got his first hit and RBI of the year which gave Sac State a 3-2 lead after the Gophers battled back to tie the game.

Sophomore utility player Jaxon Byrd played his first start in left field and got his first hit with a single up the middle going 1 and 3.

Smith would give the Hornets some relief with a home run in the seventh after the Golden Gophers scored three in the fifth inning.

The game would end 7-5 after freshman pitcher Kade Brown picked up his second save pitching 1.1 innings with one strikeout.

“It was good,” Christiansen said. “I still think there’s some areas we can improve.”

Christiansen said that the defense wasn’t as up to par as usual. The Hornets ended the game with three errors in the first, fifth and eighth which became the newest game high for fielding this season.

“There’s a lot of positives, but we can still play better,” Christiansen said.

The positive was that the newcomers made a difference on the field.

“We were just starting to just get some other guys some opportunities,” Christiansen said. “We’ve been off to a slow start and we’re trying to get some other guys involved.”

For Byrd, it was a good opportunity to show what he can do out on the diamond.

“I’m just happy to play my role and contribute to the team and get a win today,” Byrd said. “Obviously, there’s a little bit of nerves, but I know my guys got my back.”

Smith felt his team really fought for this win even with the conditions they played in.

“I feel like we could’ve come out flat today, knowing it was raining,” Smith said. “I feel like we came out on top. We wanted it more today.”

Saturday: Sac State: 4, Minnesota: 7

Sac State split the two games between Minnesota where they lost in the early innings and did not score until the fifth, eighth and ninth innings.

The Hornets’ bullpen was in full effect after redshirt senior pitcher Evan Gibbons gave up six runs and seven hits in the first four innings. It was capped off with a three-run home run by sophomore outfielder Kris Hokenson in the third inning.

Sac State brought in junior pitchers Noah Lucchesi, Andrew Monson and Ian Winterhalder. They combined to give up only one run and struck out five over the five innings.

Junior left fielder Matt Masciangelo returned with three hits and three RBIs. Freshman outfielder Myles Walton had his first two career hits. Walton was two of the four runs that scored for the Hornets.

However, this wasn’t enough to stop Minnesota, as the Golden Gophers dug a deep hole in the beginning that the Hornets couldn’t fly out of.

Sac State scored two in the bottom of the ninth, with Masciangelo scoring sophomore catcher Jacob Cortez and junior center fielder Tyler White from second and third.

Sac State would compete throughout the game, but it was too little too late as they couldn’t get started early enough and finished the game 4-7.

“I’ve played against those guys for a long time,” Christiansen said. “A lot of respect for coach Anderson. It’s good to get a chance to compete against him one more time.”

There wasn’t too much frustration from Christiansen. He said that this is going to help his team continue to grow and make them stronger in the next games to come.

White also feels the same way as he doesn’t believe it’s bad for these losses to happen. It’s whether or not the team plays hard the entire time.

“I just wanna see us compete,” White said. “I wanna see us put some better at-bats as a team and have everybody step up in their own way.”

Junior center fielder Tyler White swinging and missing against the University of Minnesota March 1, 2024. White went one for four and had one RBI and crossed the plate twice for two runs. (Kai Arellano)

Sunday: Sac State: 11, Pacific: 4

After a game between Minnesota and Pacific, a long delay of warm-ups and a rain delay, Sac State had a huge comeback with a win against Pacific 11-4.

It wasn’t easy as the Tigers opened up with a home run in the first inning by senior outfielder Chase Graves. They then scored three runs after four hits in the second inning.

The Hornets stung back in the second and third scoring six runs collectively with a home run by sophomore first baseman JP Smith that sparked a fire under Sac State.

Sophomore first baseman JP Smith celebrating his home run with seniors outfielder and shortstop Cesar Valero and Gunner Gouldsmith against the University of the Pacific on March 03, 2024. Smith went one for four and crossed the plate once for a run to contribute to Sac State’s win. (Kai Arellano)

Redshirt freshman Brett Ott would single to add on two runs scoring junior third baseman Jorge Bojorquez and junior catcher Elie Kligman.

Sac State would begin to pour on the pressure scoring five more runs between the sixth and the seventh-inning. Junior left fielder Masciangelo doubled to left to score junior second baseman Jose Ruiz.

Senior shortstop Gunner Gouldsmith was thrown out on an attempted double from right field but scored Masciangelo and Ott to expand their lead and finish the game 11-4.

“We still have to play better,” Christiansen said. “To give our guys credit they continue to fight, they work throughout the course of nine inning games, but we gotta play better.”

Christiansen is critical but understands that this is a difficult sport. He said that there are many things that need to be improved on going forward.

“We’ve had baserunning mistakes, we didn’t play great defense this weekend, we really didn’t get good starting pitching,” Christiansen said. “For us to win two out of three despite that, that’s good. But we certainly have to play better baseball.”

Gouldsmith understands this style of gritty baseball may not be pleasing. They had to battle back after losing early in their past few games, but it gets the job done and gets them wins for right now.

“I think it comes from our team attitude and our team culture,” Gouldsmith said. “We kind of switched gears and wanted to become that team that puts pressure on other teams.”

Gouldsmith said he foresees the Hornets being a team to reckon with when they start conference play.

“I think our pitching staff keeps us in a lot of games,” Gouldsmith said. “Once, our offense really gets going, we’re gonna be a really tough team to beat and we’re gonna win those close games.”

Sac State will stay home this week and continue their Causeway rivalry as they take on UC Davis on Tuesday, at John Smith Field at 6 p.m.

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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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