Shocker offense goes silent in loss to Sacramento State
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Offense was in short supply on Wednesday night at Eck Stadium as the Shocker baseball team lost for the first time this season at home, 2-3 to Sacramento State.
WSU (11-10) got off to a promising start in the bottom of the first inning when freshman Jacob Katzfey led off with a single. Sophomore Luke Ritter followed with an RBI triple off the left field wall, and later scored on a ground ball to put WSU up 2-0.
The first inning would account for a game’s worth of WSU scoring as the Hornets silenced the Shocker bats for the remaining eight innings.
Sacramento State wasted no time answering back, plating a run in the top of the second off of freshman starting pitcher, Keylan Kilgore.
The WSU bullpen held the Hornets in check through the middle innings, allowing just one run in the sixth to tie the game at two apiece.
Five Shocker pitchers combined for an impressive 16 strikeouts in the losing effort. Sophomore Robby Evans had five strikeouts in three scoreless innings on the mound.
“We work tremendously hard as a group to do what we’ve been taught,” Evans said. “There’s always room for improvement though.”
WSU put together a scoring threat in the bottom of the eighth, sparked by sophomore Alec Bohm’s two-out single. A walk and a wild pitch moved runners to second and third for sophomore pinch hitter, Jordan Boyer, who flew out to left field, stranding both runners in scoring position.
“The whole offense is struggling, and we’ve got to be better,” Luke Ritter said. “It’s unacceptable and it’s why we’re losing games.”
With one out and a runner on first in the top of the ninth, senior Landon Holifield came into the game in relief of fellow senior Reagan Biechler.
A ground rule double to left field by Trent Goodrich put runners at second and third, but Holifield was able to strike out Ian Dawkins swinging to preserve the tie.
The WSU coaching staff decided to intentionally walk the dangerous PJ Floyd in favor of facing pinch-hitter, Devin Lehman.
With the bases loaded, Goodrich walked Lehman on five pitches to force home the go-ahead run.
“It’s uncharacteristic of (Goodrich),” head coach Todd Butler said. “We didn’t want to pitch to the left-hander which is still the right decision, but you’ve got to throw strikes in that situation.”
The Shockers went down in order in the bottom of the ninth to seal the victory for Sacramento State.
WSU managed only five hits on the night, three after the first inning, and has not scored more than four runs in the last five games.
“Offensively, we’ve got to take the pressure off the pitching staff,” Butler said. “We’ve played good defense, we’ve pitched well, but with not much offense at all.”
The grueling schedule, which has seen WSU play five games in each of the last two weeks, will get no easier as WSU welcomes in Texas Tech, ranked as high as third nationally, for a weekend series.
The first game will be at 6 p.m. Friday at Eck Stadium.