SACRAMENTO -- Sacramento State received two solid pitching performances, a walkoff home run, and a late two-run blast to highlight a doubleheader sweep of Montana on Friday afternoon at Shea Stadium. After winning the first game, 9-1, in six innings, the Hornets used a sixth inning two-run blast to beat the Grizzlies, 2-1, in the nightcap.
It was a Nikki Barboza walkoff two-run homer in the bottom of the sixth that ended a mercy rule shortened victory in the opener, before Lexie Webb's two-run opposite field blast in the sixth inning of Game 2 erased a 1-0 deficit. Both home runs were impactful, but perhaps just as important were two stellar pitching performances. The first came from Marissa Bertuccio, who allowed just one run and two hits with seven strikeouts over six innings in the first game. Relief pitcher Kelsey Alcantara was brilliant in the Game 2, allowing no runs and four hits over the final four innings.
The victories allowed Sacramento State to improve to 24-20 overall and 8-3 in the Big Sky Conference. Regardless of what happens in tomorrow's game, the Hornets have now won all four three-game Big Sky series they have played this season. That includes four straight conference wins dating back to last week's victories at Northern Colorado.
More important, the Hornets moved into sole possession of second place in the conference standings, just 1.5 games back of first place Weber State (9-1). Sacramento State and Weber State will play a three-game series next week in Ogden, Utah. Only seven conference games remain in the regular season for the Hornets.
Montana dropped to 18-22 and 5-8 in league with the losses. The Hornets are now 20-6 all-time against the Griz, including wins in 11 of the last 12 matchups between the two teams.
Three different Hornets combined for at least three hits today, including Samantha Parish who finished 4-for-7 with two runs scored and two RBIs. Barboza and Lewa Day both combined for three hits. The Barboza and Webb home runs gave the team a program-record 46 round trippers, surpassing the previous single-season record of 45 homers, set by the 2017 team.
In Game 2, Alcantara (1-1) earned her first win of the season, coming on in relief in the fourth inning, and throwing up zeros in all four frames she pitched. That was huge as Montana posted a run in the third inning and the score remained 1-0 into the sixth before Webb came up clutch. Perhaps the biggest home run of the season for the Hornets, Webb's two-run blast (scoring Parish) came with one out and erased the deficit. Alcantara retired the side in the top of the seventh to preserve the victory. Webb now has 16 homers, two shy of the Sacramento State single-season record of 18, set by Suzy Brookshire in 2018.
In the opener, Montana began the scoring with a run in the first inning on a solo homer from Maygen McGrath. Bertuccio (16-7) would allow just one hit the rest of the way in a dominant performance that lowered her ERA to 2.06. Sacramento State scored four times in the fourth inning and five times in the sixth. The fourth inning outburst saw all four runs score with two outs, and featured bases loaded walks to pinch hitter Caroline Evans and Gwen Ludwig. Parish followed with a two-run single.
In the sixth, the Hornets scored on a two-run double from Day, a Carley Morfey RBI-single and Barboza's blast. Speaking of Barboza, the true freshman remained hot, and has now hit safely in 10 of her last 11 games.
The Hornets and Grizzlies will play the third and final game of their three-game series tomorrow when the two teams square off at noon at Shea Stadium. Tomorrow is Alumni Day and all former Hornet softball players will be admitted free. Former Sacramento State head coach Kathy Strahan will throw out the ceremonial first pitch.
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