SACRAMENTO -- Senior Dawsen Bacho's two-run single with two outs in the eighth capped a five-run frame, helping bring Sacramento State all the way from down four runs and lift the Hornets to a dramatic come-from-behind 8-7 series-opening Western Athletic Conference victory over visiting Utah Valley on Friday night at John Smith Field.
The win improved Sacramento State to 26-23 overall on the season and 15-13 in conference play, keeping its unbeaten run in series openers alive at 13-0 this season and 16-0 dating back to 2021. The Wolverines fell to 16-33 overall and 9-16 in WAC play.
Sophomore right-hander Wesley Harper (2-0) was stellar in relief for the Hornets, entering in the sixth inning after a two-run double had extended Utah Valley's lead to 7-3 and proceeded to shut down the Wolverine offense. Harper got a pair of ground balls to end the inning, then allowed only two baserunners over 2.2 shutout innings of work on his way to his second win of the year.
Junior right-hander Jack Zalasky then shut the door in the ninth for his ninth save of the year, working around a pair of singles to strikeout a pair and nail down the win. It was his sixth save in his last eight appearances and the 13th of his career, giving him sole possession of fifth on the all-time list.
Josh Brown (0-3) suffered the loss in relief, charged with the go-ahead run and giving up a walk and a hit in his one-third inning of work.
Held to just two hits through the first seven innings — the first an RBI double by Martin Vincelli-Simard as part of a two-run first and the second by Jorge Bojorquez, who slugged his sixth home run of the season in the fifth — the Hornet offense came alive in a big way in the eighth.
Trailing by four, Sacramento State loaded the bases thanks to three straight singles from Vincelli-Simard, Steven Moretto, and Jeffery Heard — the last a shot that went for a 375-foot single to the right centerfield gap that the Utah Valley looked to have a bead on before crashing into the wall, forcing the runners to hold and only advance 90 feet.
That brought up Josh Walker, who was plunked by the first pitch he saw, scoring Vincelli-Simard to get the Hornets one run closer. Gunner Gouldsmith followed with a fly ball to left centerfield for a sacrifice fly, easily scoring Moretto and moving Heard to third, knocking reliever Nick Sims from the game in favor of Brown.
Trevor Doyle then wasted little time, lofting a ball into shallow centerfield that was corralled on a diving catch by Paul Vossen for the second out, but it was enough to score Heard and make it 7-6. Leading the nation in sacrifice flies entering the weekend, the two marked the 37th and 38th sac flies for Sacramento State this season.
The Wolverines thought they were out of the inning after Josh Rolling rolled a ball to short, but it was misplayed by the fielder, moving Walker to second and extending the inning. Both moved up 90 feet on a wild pitch and Bojorquez drew a walk to load the bases for Bacho, who fell behind in the count 1-2 before grounding a ball through a wide open right side of the infield, scoring Walker and Rolling with the tying and go-ahead scores.
A bunt single greeted Zalasky to start the ninth and, after a pop-up and a strikeout, another single through the right side put the go-ahead run on base for Vossen, but Zalasky got his to chase on a 1-2 offering to end the game.
Seven different Hornets drove in runs on the night while Vincelli-Simard finished with two hits to collect his third consecutive multi-hit game. The two through six hitters for Sacramento State combined for all six of the team's hits on the night, including one by Moretto, who tied Scotty Burcham's school record with his 233rd career appearance in the green and gold.
Game two of the series is scheduled for 1 p.m. on Saturday (May 14) at John Smith Field, with the Hornets' Colin Hunter scheduled to take the mound against the Wolverines' Coop Rust.