SAN FRANCISCO – Right-hander Eli Saul made the best start of his career on Sunday, throwing eight scoreless innings as Sacramento State shut out the San Francisco Dons on the road, 4-0.
With the win, Sacramento State improves to 31-19 overall while San Francisco falls to 21-25.
Saul was spectacular on Sunday, throwing eight shutout innings on the road at San Francisco against a Dons team that averages nearly six runs per game. He gave up just four hits, did not walk a batter, and struck out six.
He improved to 2-3 overall this season with the win.
The eight innings was a career-high for Saul, passing his previous high of six, a feat he achieved earlier this season. He threw 96 pitches, another career-high, including 68 for strikes.
Saul was incredibly efficient on Sunday, retiring the side in order three times and facing more than four batters in an inning just once. Twice the Dons reached with a two-out base hit and were stranded at first base.
San Francisco had its best opportunity in the eighth inning against Saul after a one-out double put a runner in scoring position. Saul then coaxed an easy groundout to second before getting a pop out to first to end the threat and the inning.
He had a perfectly even nine fly outs to nine ground outs and faced 30 total batters through eight complete shutout innings.
Jack Zalasky closed things out for Saul and the Hornets, giving up a one-out hit before striking out a pair to end the game.
The shutout victory is the fourth this season for the Hornets and the team's third on the road.
The Hornet offense also came through on Sunday, doing more than enough to back the excellent start by Saul. Sacramento State staked their starter to a 1-0 lead thanks to a two-out RBI single off the bat of Dawsen Bacho in the op of the first inning.
Matt Smith doubled the lead for the Hornets in the third, hitting a solo home run out to left center. The blast was his team-leading eighth of the year and gave him RBI 41, also most on the team.
After the Hornets and Dons traded four scoreless innings, second baseman Dylan McPhillips added a little extra cushion with a two-run double in the top of the eighth inning. McPhilips lined a ball into left that skipped all the way to the wall and scored both Bacho from second and Steven Moretto all the way from first.
With Sunday's win, Sacramento State clinched the series victory against the Dons, taking three of four, including both games on the road in San Francisco.
With San Francisco now squarely in the rear-view mirror, Sacramento State turns its attention to next weekend and a four-game series against the UT Rio Grande Valley Vaqueros. The series is the final one of the regular season and Sacramento State and UTRGV are both firmly in contention for the number two overall seed heading into the WAC Tournament at the end of the month.
UTRGV (28-21, 19-12) is coming off a three-game series sweep at home against Northern Colorado, with the fourth game canceled due to weather.
At 31-19 overall and 19-13 in the WAC, Sacramento State needs to win this upcoming series to secure the number two seed in the conference and the WAC Tournament. A series split, and the Hornets will finish third in the league.
The action starts Thursday night at John Smith Field as the Hornets host UTRGV at 5 p.m. The two teams will play a Friday doubleheader starting at 2 p.m. before closing out the series and the regular season on Saturday, May 22, at 12 p.m.
All four games will stream live online on the WAC Digital Network with live stats via HornetStats.com. Direct links for all four games can be found on the Sacramento State baseball schedule.
And as always, 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.