RIVERSIDE, Calif. – Sacramento State and California Baptist traded blows in Friday night's series opener in Riverside, but it was the Hornets who came out on top, outlasting the Lancers, 14-11, to take game one.
With the win, Sacramento State improves to 27-16 overall and 18-11 in Western Athletic Conference play. California Baptist falls to 29-12 overall, including 21-4 in the WAC.
California Baptist turned to their ace for Friday night's opener, left-hander Chris Burica. One of the best pitchers in the conference, Burica entered his Friday start with a 7-3 record, 2.27 ERA, and four complete games under his belt.
The numbers didn't mean much to the Hornets, who chased Burica from the game in the fourth inning. In total, Sacramento State tagged the Lancers' ace for eight runs on 10 hits in just 3.1 innings.
The first big blow of the game came later in that same inning, when veteran outfielder Matt Smith smashed a grand slam out to left field. The blast made it an 11-3 game in the fourth inning and was Smith's sixth home run of the season. It was his first career grand slam.
For Smith, the hit was just one of four in a 4-for-4 night for the senior outfielder. Smith doubled, homered, and walked while driving in five and scoring twice. The five-RBI night was Sacramento State's second this season as Smith joined Jorge Bojorquez, who drove in five on March 6 at Santa Clara.
Hitting in the cleanup spot on Friday, Smith was part of an unstoppable top of the lineup as Sacramento State's 1-4 hitters combined to go 11-for-17 for 11 RBIs and eight runs scored.
Despite throwing the first big punch and jumping out to an early eight-run lead, CBU was anything but done. Down 12-4 in the sixth, the Lancers scored three times to cut the deficit to five. Although the Hornets answered with two more in the seventh, CBU battled right back with four more runs in the home half of the frame, making it a 14-11 game before things finally settled down.
Brady Rodriguez earned his team-leading seventh win of the season on Friday after throwing 5.2 innings in what was his fourth start of the year. Rodriguez was tagged for seven runs, all earned, on 10 hits and a walk. He struck out four.
Travis Martizia and Cole Tremain were next out of the pen, combining to throw just 1.1 innings while allowing four runs on five hits and a walk. The Lancers answered with a grand slam of their own in the seventh, coming against Tremain after the freshman entered with two outs and the bases loaded.
Jack Zalasky was able to pick his teammates up, coming on in the eighth for the six-out save. Zalasky was nearly perfect in the outing, walking one and striking out three in two hitless innings to earn his third save of the year. He lowered his ERA to 2.16 and now has 45 strikeouts in 33.1 innings (12.2 K/9).
With Friday's win, Sacramento State defeated the league-leading Lancers on their home field, snapping CBU's 10-game win streak and a 13-game win streak at home. Before facing the Hornets on Friday, CBU had not lost at home since February 27.
Sacramento State will have two more chances to repeat tomorrow when the two teams face off in a WAC doubleheader starting at 1 pm PT. Game one is a scheduled seven-inning contest while game two will go nine.
games tomorrow 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.