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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 wins their first conference series against Utah Valley

The Hornets finish their first series in dominant fashion
Alejandro Barron
Sac State mimics the celebration of sophomore first baseman JP Smith after his home run against Utah Valley on Sunday, March 10, 2024. Smith went three for five and scored three times against the Wolverines in the third game of the series.

Sacramento State baseball won their first Western Athletic Conference series against Utah Valley University and are now 2-1 in the WAC.

Friday: Sac State 4, Utah Valley 3

The Hornets walked off the series’ opening game in a tense back-and-forth battle against the Wolverines.

The game was scoreless for the first two innings until the third when senior catcher Burke Camper hammered a solo home run to give Utah Valley a 1-0 lead.

Sac State would close the lead with senior shortstop Gunner Gouldsmith scoring from third base after junior center fielder Tyler White hit a sacrifice fly.

The Wolverines built on the lead with runs in the sixth and the eighth from sophomore catcher Luke Iverson hitting singles to make it 3-1.

The Hornets rallied back with sophomore catcher Jacob Cortez hitting his first home run to close the lead in the eighth.

The bats weren’t finished, as senior outfielder Cesar Valero singled to left field and scored junior left fielder Matt Masciangelo to tie up the game 3-3.

Sac State slowly put the pressure on Utah Valley with runners on the corners in the bottom of the ninth. Sophomore right fielder Ryan Christiansen found a way to slip under the tag with a slick foot first slide at the plate and score the walk-off winning run, after a hit by Cortez, to end the game 4-3.

Sac State head coach Reggie Christiansen said he was happy with the result and knows that his mix of players has displayed what they’re capable of.

“From a rotation standpoint, I think we’re in a pretty good spot,” Christiansen said. “It’s still gonna be a different mix of guys on the offensive side.”

Christiansen said that his players are a bunch of hungry ball players, who want to compete and show their grit.

“It’s a good group,” Christiansen said. “They want to win and that’s what’s important.”

RELATED: The Causeway Rivalry ends in devastation for Sac State

Saturday: Sac State 2, Utah Valley 5

Sac State failed to capture a second win on Saturday because Utah Valley would strike early and shut down the Hornets’ offense.

The Wolverines started fast, loading the bases and scoring three runs in the first inning. They capped it off with sophomore second baseman Daniel Dickinson’s solo home run in the second inning for their fourth run.

The Hornets would fire back when Cortez hit a single up the middle and right after junior second baseman Jose Ruiz hit his first home run of the season, for two runs in the fifth 4-2.

Junior left fielder Matt Masciangelo looks down at his bat to readjust after a hard at bat against Utah Valley on Sunday, March 10, 2024. Masciangelo went four for five and scored three times against the Wolverines in the third game of the series. (Alejandro Barron)

Sac State put runners on second and third to try and tie up the game, but the comeback abruptly ended as Utah Valley dialed in, striking out two and getting a fly-out to end the resurgence.

Utah Valley added on one more run in the ninth from a sac fly to score the runner at third and expand their lead to shut out Sac State and ended the game 5-2.

“They’re an older, experienced team,” Christiansen said. “We knew it was going to be a good test.”

Christiansen said that the coaches in the WAC chose Utah Valley to finish second despite what their record looks like at 4-9 overall. He knew this was going to be tough for the team and knew that his team could beat Utah Valley if they played well.

“I think tomorrow will be different,” Christiansen said. “We just have to come out and play a little bit better.”

The two-run homer from Ruiz was big, but not enough to ignite the spark the team needed to score more runs. Ruiz said he believes that there was a dropoff in energy too.

“I think we just came out kind of slow,” Ruiz said. “They were able to get up a crooked number early in the game and that ended up being the difference.”

Sunday: Sac State 10, Utah Valley 3

Sac State would sting hard to win the series with Utah Valley 10-3 in an offensive clinic. They came out aggressive in the beginning and the end to take advantage of Utah Valley’s pitching.

Freshman pitcher Andrew Overland set the tempo through the 3.2 innings he pitched. Overland shut out the Wolverines, striking out four while only walking out two batters. Senior pitcher Cooper Rons would come through and earn a win in relief by striking out three over two innings.

The Hornets’ offense came through in the early part of the game, with a four-run inning in the second with RBI singles by Gouldsmith and Masciangelo.

The Hornets capped off the second inning, with a two-run bomb by sophomore first baseman JP Smith to score Masciangelo and create a substantial lead at 5-0.

Junior second baseman Jose Ruiz gets ready to turn a double play against Utah Valley on Sunday, March 10, 2024. Ruiz has eight double plays and turned two against the Wolverines. (Alejandro Barron)

The Wolverines scored three runs through the fifth and sixth, but that would mean nothing as the Hornets went on to break the game wide open.

In the eighth inning, Sac State put on a line drive clinic and scored four runs to completely dominate Utah Valley and finish the series at 2-1.

Christiansen said he was satisfied with how his team performed offensively Sunday and hopes that they build on their aggressive starts.

“That’s something we always talk about,” Christiansen said. “Hopefully we continue it.”

He said he did notice that the defense was shaky once again and that changes needed to be made.

“I think we’re going to make some changes on defense this week,” Christiansen said. “I’m not sure what yet, but yeah I think we will.”

Overland was one of the main focuses on Sunday and understood what needed to be done in order to get the win.

“I feel like it was just more of the mindset,” Overland said. “Reggie’s been asking us all year ‘just go out there and compete,’ and I feel like that was my job to go out there and give our guys a chance.”

Overland wants to always set a precedent of what happens when teams play Sac State and that it won’t be easy.

“Early in the year, we would wait to the fifth or sixth inning to get going,” Overland said. “Now that we’re starting conference it’s more like set the tone early.”

Sac State will rematch Fresno State on Tuesday at John Smith Field for a non-conference game 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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