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SOFTBALL BEATS PORTLAND STATE, ADVANCES TO CHAMPIONSHIP SATURDAY IN BIG SKY TOURNEY

SOFTBALL BEATS PORTLAND STATE, ADVANCES TO CHAMPIONSHIP SATURDAY IN BIG SKY TOURNEY

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OGDEN, Utah -- Sacramento State scored twice in the bottom of the eighth inning, including a walkoff sacrifice fly from freshman Nikki Barboza, to beat Portland State, 4-3, on the third day of the Big Sky Conference Softball Tournament at Wildcat Field.

In an elimination game, it was the Hornets that came up big after Portland State had scored once in the seventh to force extra innings, and then added another run in the top of the eighth.

Down to their final three outs, Sacramento State took advantage of a Portland State error, and hits from Lexie Webb and Alondra Mejia, setting up Barboza's sacrifice fly. With one out and runners at first and second, Mejia smacked a single to center field scoring Lewa Day. After a walk to Carley Morfey put runners at the corners, Barboza connected on a fly ball to right field that was deep enough to score pinch runner Rylee Gresham with the game winner.

The win allowed Sacramento State (30-24) to advance to Championship Saturday where the Hornets will play tourney host and top seed Weber State (37-10) tomorrow at 11 a.m. PT. The No. 2 seed Hornets and Wildcats are the lone teams still alive in the six-team double elimination tournament. The two teams will play for the Big Sky's automatic berth to the NCAA Regionals.

Sacramento State, which lost to Weber State yesterday, will need to beat the Wildcats twice tomorrow to win the league title and advance to NCAA Regionals for the first time since 2018. The Wildcats, who have yet to lose in the tournament, only need to win once tomorrow. The Hornets are 2-1 at the four-day tourney, including Wednesday's mercy rule victory over Montana. Should Sacramento State open tomorrow with a win, the two teams would play again approximately 30 minutes after the conclusion of that first game.

Nearly lost in the excitement is the Hornets reached 30 wins for the third time in five years. Thirty wins are usually the sign of a very good team, and Sacramento State certainly fits into that category.

In today's game, neither team led by more than one run the entire way. Sacramento State jumped out to a quick 1-0 lead after Lewa Day opened the first inning with an opposite field home run. The round tripper was her 16th of the season, tying her for the team lead with Webb. The 16 homers are also a single-season career high for Day.

After PSU tied things at 1-1 in the third, the Hornets reclaimed the lead at 2-1 in the fourth after Amber Rodriguez's clutch two-out, RBI-double scored pinch runner Kennedy Echols. That lead held until the seventh inning when PSU, down to its final two outs, got a pinch hit solo homer from Ellie Babbitt to tie things at 2-2.

The Vikings opened the eighth inning with a solo homer from Emily Johansen, but that advantage was short lived as Sacramento State used a dramatic bottom half to win.

Day, Mejia and Rodriguez each had two hits, and combined for six of Sacramento State's seven knocks.

Marissa Bertuccio (21-10) went the distance in the victory, allowing seven hits and three runs with five strikeouts in eight innings. The 21 victories for the junior right-hander are tied for the second highest single-season total in Sacramento State's Div. I era (1990-pres.).