SACRAMENTO, Calif. – With two on and one out in the ninth inning, Ryan Walstad smashed a double into the corner in right, scoring both runs and walking things off for the Hornets, 3-2, over Grand Canyon.
With the win, Sacramento State improves to 26-16 overall and 17-11 in the Western Athletic Conference. Grand Canyon falls to 26-16-1 overall and remains one spot ahead of the Hornets at 19-5 in the WAC.
The walk-off hit was just one of three total hits for Walstad on Sunday, who finished 3-for-4 with a double and three RBIs. He was also responsible for driving in Sacramento State's first run with an RBI base hit in the third inning.
For the Hornets, the walk-off win is their second of the season the other also a 3-2, ninth inning walk-off against #24 Stanford. Matt Smith was responsible for the game-winner in that one, an RBI-single to right-center.
In addition, the come-from-behind victory was Sacramento State's 13th this season and its second in the ninth inning. The Hornets also overcame a 2-0 ninth-inning deficit in the season opener at #15 Arizona State, winning that game 4-2.
Steven Moretto also had three hits for the Hornets, going 3-for-4 with two doubles. More impressive than his at bats on Sunday was his work in the field, however, as Moretto made several exceptional defensive plays, including a spectacular bare-handed grab and throw to first to end a dangerous inning for Grand Canyon.
The Hornets were strong defensively all around on Sunday, as Keith Torres made a number of difficult plays at shortstop. The Hornets turned two double plays on Sunday, including a perfectly executed play in which Ryan Walstad fielded the ground ball, stepped on his base at first before firing at Torres for the tag play and the second out.
Even from behind the plate, Dawsen Bacho made his impact felt defensively, throwing out two would be base stealers in two attempts.
On the mound, Hornets ace Scott Randall silenced a Grand Canyon offense that had been very noise through the series' first three games. Coming off a career-long, 114 pitch outing in which he struck out 14 over 8.0-plus innings, Randall fired off six innings of one run ball against Grand Canyon. He scattered five hits, walked one, and struck out eight.
Randall nearly held the Lopes scoreless after what appeared to be an inning-ending double play only got one out and allowed the inning to continue before the Lopes scored their first run of the day.
For Randall, the eight strikeouts and one walk brought his season totals to 79 and five, respectively, while he lowered his ERA to 2.62.
Brady Rodriguez followed Randall with 1.2 scoreless innings before Jack Zalasky took over in the eighth. Zalasky allowed one run on three hits and a walk in the ninth. With the bases loaded and one out, he limited the damage by inducing an inning-ending double play to keep it a one-run game and give the Hornets a chance.
Zalasky earned his fourth win of the year 15 minutes later when the Hornets walked it off. Grand Canyon's closer, Frank Scalzo, took the loss, his second.
With the win, the Hornets salvage this weekend's series against Grand Canyon after a tough first three games. However, Sunday's action more truly represented what the team has done all season – play clean defense, pitch well, and hit in key moments.
Though just because the Hornets are done with Grand Canyon this weekend, the schedule doesn't get any easier. The team next heads to southern California to take on the league-leading Cal Baptist Lancers at Totman Stadium starting Friday.
That four-game series begins Friday night at 6 p.m. with a Saturday doubleheader set for 1 p.m. Sunday's series finale will get underway at noon. All four games will stream live online on the WAC Digital Network with live stats available at HornetStats.com.
For the latest news, notes, schedule updates, and more, including direct links to streaming and live stats, be sure to visit the Sacramento State baseball schedule online at HornetSports.com.