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OGDEN, Utah -- Despite a three-run homer in the first inning from Alondra Mejia, Sacramento State fell to Montana, 6-3, in the first round of the Big Sky Conference Softball Tournament on Thursday afternoon at Wildcat Softball Field.
Sacramento State (14-26) entered the three-day, double elimination tournament as the No. 3 seed while Montana (17-28) was the No. 6 seed. The Hornets swept Montana in a three-game series in Missoula earlier this season, and had never lost to the Grizzlies in postseason play (3-0) prior to today.
Sacramento State will play again tomorrow at 8:30 a.m. PT against either No. 1 seed Weber State or No. 5 Portland State. The loser of the that game will be eliminated from the six-team tournament. The Hornets are the only team in the Big Sky to qualify for the conference tournament every year since the league began sponsoring softball in 2013. Sacramento State will look to avoid going 0-2 in Big Sky Tourney play for just the second time (2013).
Seven of the game's nine runs were scored in the first two innings. In fact, all three of Sacramento State's runs were scored in the first frame. Montana scored twice in both the first and second innings, and once more in the fifth and seventh.
After a two-run homer from the Grizzlies' Maygen McGrath in the top of the first, Sacramento State immediately responded in the bottom half with Mejia's three-run homer. A single from Charizma Guzman and a walk to Lewa Day set the table for Mejia, who drove an 0-2 pitch the opposite way over the left-center field fence. The homer was the seventh of the season for Mejia, and was her fourth round tripper against the Grizzlies this season. It was Mejia that hit a school-record three homers in a 9-4 win at Montana on April 3.
The Griz retook the lead at 4-3 in the second inning with four soft contact singles that seemed to find holes. That proved to be enough run support for Montana starter Tristin Achenbach (13-14) who allowed just three hits and three runs with five strikeouts over seven innings. In fact, after that first inning, the Hornets had just one hit the rest of the way against Achenbach. Sacramento State stranded just two runners on base the entire game, and the team had just two base runners the final six innings of the contest.
Right-hander Marissa Bertuccio (10-16) tossed a complete game, but took the loss for the Hornets. She needed just 77 pitches to last seven innings. Guzman (2-for-3 with a run) and Mejia (1-for-3 with the home run) combined to account for Sacramento State's three hits.
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