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FIVE-RUN FIRST SPARKS #2 BASEBALL TO 9-5 WIN OVER #3 UTRGV IN WAC TOURNAMENT MATCHUP

FIVE-RUN FIRST SPARKS #2 BASEBALL TO 9-5 WIN OVER #3 UTRGV IN WAC TOURNAMENT MATCHUP

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MESA, Ariz. – Sacramento State wasted no time in Thursday's WAC Tournament contest against the UT Rio Grande Valley Vaqueros, scoring five times in the first en route to an 9-5 win.

The tournament's number two seed, the Hornets scored nine runs on 14 hits in their first tournament game and improved to 35-20 overall on the season. UTRGV, the three seed, scored five times on nine hits and is now also 35-20 overall.

With the win, Sacramento State advances to a Friday matchup against the winner of Thursday night's Grand Canyon/New Mexico State game. The Hornets will play Friday at 7 p.m. PT.  

The offense came early and often for Sacramento State as the Hornets jumped out to an easy 5-0 lead in the first inning against the Vaqueros.

After a walk by Trevor Doyle and a base hit by Matt Smith, it was RBI-leader Ryan Walstad who delivered with a single up the middle. Walstad's base hit scored Doyle from second, giving Sacramento State its first run of the game and of the tournament.

The inning was far from over for the Hornets as the very next batter, catcher Dawsen Bacho, lined a nearly identical base hit up the middle, scoring Smith and making it a 2-0 game.

Two batters later, Steven Moretto hit a two-out double down the third base line, scoring Walstad and putting runners at second and third for Jack Bollengier. With two outs and two strikes, the freshman centerfielder lined an opposite field single to left, scoring two and capping the five-run first inning for the Hornets.

After UT Rio Grande Valley scored a run in the top of the second inning, Keith Torres answered back for the Hornets, lining a two-out RBI-double into the left-center gap, scoring Bollengier and putting the Hornets back up by five.

Sacramento State added two more in the fifth, first on a Nick Iwasa RBI-base hit and next on a Trevor Doyle RBI-groundout.

After UTRGV rallied for four runs in the top of the eighth, Sacramento State added an insurance run in the home half of the frame. Initially called out at the plate, Chris Gonzalez was ruled safe after review, giving the Hornets their ninth run of the day.

All nine Hornets starters had at least one hit in Thursday win, including a team-high three for centerfielder Jack Bollengier. Bollengier also led the team with a game-high three RBIs. Both are career-highs for the freshman.

In addition, seven of Sacramento State's nine starters had at least one RBI.

On the mound and staked to an early lead, Scott Randall was excellent for the Hornets, holding the Vaqueros offense to just one run over seven innings. The right-hander ran into some trouble in the eighth when an error, a walk, and two hits turned into four runs, three of them unearned.

In total, Randall threw 7.2 innings in the Hornets' first WAC tournament game, allowing five runs (two earned) on seven hits and two walks. He struck out four.

For the first time this season, Randall walked more than one batter in a game. Previously, he had issued just one walk on seven different occasions. The nation's leader in walks-allowed-per-nine, Randall has issued just nine walks in 87.1 innings this season.

With four strikeouts, Randall also climbed to 103 on the season, the seventh highest single-season total in Hornets history. He is one of just six pitchers to strike out 100 or more in a single season and the first since Parker Brahms struck out 113 in 2018.

After Randall was Max Pettey, who gave up one hit and struck out another to finish the eighth.

Jack Zalasky got the ninth for Sacramento State, and although he allowed a leadoff double and a walk, pitched around the baserunners for a scoreless inning, closing out the game and securing the 9-5 win for Sacramento State.

The reigning WAC Tournament champs, Sacramento State will advance next to a Friday night matchup against either #1 seed Grand Canyon or #4 seed New Mexico State.

First pitch for Friday night's game is set for 7 p.m. PT and the game will again stream live on ESPN+. For complete details, including links to stream and for live stats, be sure to visit the Hornet baseball schedule on HornetSports.com or visit th WAC Tournament home page at WACSports.com.

Stay tuned to HornetSports.com and @SacStBaseball on all social media channels for the latest news, notes, updates, and more.