PHOENIX — Sophomore right-hander Eli Saul finished with his first career complete game and four strikeouts on the night, while Dawsen Bacho finished 4-for-5 with a double and a pair of home runs to help lift Sacramento State to a 8-5 victory over host Grand Canyon in a Western Athletic Conference series opener on Friday night at Brazell Field at GCU Ballpark in Phoenix, Ariz.
Sophomore Jorge Bojorquez added three hits and three RBI in the win for the Hornets, who improved to 24-21 overall and 14-11 in conference play with the victory. Sacramento State improved to 12-0 in series openers this season and has won its last 15 consecutive series openers dating back to last season.
The 'Lopes fell to 31-16 overall and 17-5 in league play as Jonny Weaver finished 3-for-4 to pace the offense.
Saul (6-0) finished with 121 pitches in his complete-game effort — the second by a Hornet pitcher this year after Colin Hunter tossed a no-hitter in his collegiate debut against Northern Illinois on Feb. 19 and the first nine-inning complete game by a Sacramento State hurler since Travis Adams went the distance at California Baptist in a 14-1 win on May 9 of last season.
The Vancouver, B.C., native allowed five runs on 11 hits without a walk, allowing only two extra base hits, retiring nine consecutive batters at one point from the fifth through the eighth innings. The 121 pitches were a career high for Saul, who topped the 100-pitch mark for the fourth time this season.
Brodie Cooper-Vassalakis (2-1) suffered the loss, allowing four runs on three hits, walking two and striking out a pair in 1.1 innings of relief, picking up for starter Nick Hull in the seventh after Hull allowed three runs on five hits and struck out nine over 6.1 innings.
Bacho's four hits tied his career high, collecting his second multi-homer game of the season in the process, joining the two home runs slugged against Seattle U at home on April 16. Meanwhile, Bojorquez's three hits matched his season high set against Saint Mary's on March 8, with his biggest hit on Friday capping off a huge four-run eighth that gave the Hornets the lead for good.
With his four hits, Bacho now needs just two more to become the 15th player in school history to reach 200 for a career, while his performance Friday moved him up on a few more career lists. His two RBI moved him past Will Fitzpatrick (1990-93) and into a tie for fourth on the all-time list with Chris Lewis (2013-16) with 136. Bacho's 41st career double gave him sole possession of ninth on the all-time list, while his two home runs on Friday tied him with Rhys Hoskins (2012-14) for eighth on the career chart with 25.
A sacrifice fly by Martin Vincelli-Simard in the first and a Bojorquez RBI single in the second staked Sacramento State to an early lead, but Grand Canyon answered with two runs in the home half of the second and Dustin Crenshaw singled home a run in the fifth to give the 'Lopes the lead.
From that point on, it was all Hornets as Bacho launched his fifth home run of the season over the wall in left to tie the game at three apiece and Sacramento State crossed the plate four times two innings later — all with two outs — as the Hornets scored six of their eight runs in the final four innings.
Sacramento State loaded the bases on a single by Bacho, a fielder's choice, a single by Josh Rolling, and a walk to Josh Walker. Nick Iwasa then came off the bench, but didn't have to do much as the Hornets' first run of the inning came home on a wild pitch for a 4-3 lead.
A walk to Iwasa re-loaded the bases, but Cooper-Vassalakis uncorked his second wild pitch of the inning, allowing Rolling to score for the 5-3 advantage. Dylan McPhillips then worked a full-count walk to load the bases once again for Bojorquez, who sent a 1-1 pitch back up the middle to score a pair and give the Hornets a 7-4 lead.
Grand Canyon clawed a run back in the eighth, but Bacho returned the favor quickly in the ninth, launching a 1-1 offering over the wall in left for his sixth of the season and an 8-4 lead.
The 'Lopes added a harmless run in the ninth with two outs on an RBI single by Weaver, but Saul settled down and induced a ground ball to short to end the game.
Game two is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on Saturday (May 7).
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