New Mexico State gambled by starting Robert Kraft against Sacramento State – hours after the left-hander had thrown 92 pitches in a Western Athletic Conference tournament win earlier Friday in Mesa, Ariz.
The Hornets (36-22) scuttled the risky strategy, scoring four times in the first inning on the way to a 9-5 win over the Aggies (23-31), Sac State reported. Sacramento State scored three times before Kraft recorded an out.
The Hornets, looking to advance to their first NCAA Division I regional playoff berth, need a win over Cal State Bakersfield today to reach the final, where they will need two wins against Utah Valley.
The Hornets scored two runs in the second on a double by Rhys Hoskins (Jesuit High School) and a fielding error by the Aggies.
David Del Grande and Chris Lewis also doubled for the Hornets, who outhit the Aggies 12-6. Hoskins, Nathan Lukes (Center High) and Dane Fujinaka each had two hits.
Alex Palsha struck out seven in 31/3 hitless innings of relief for the starter, Del Campo’s Sam Long (8-1). It was Palsha’s 34th appearance, the most in program history. Palsha punctuated his third save by striking out the side in the ninth.
• UC Davis scored three runs in the ninth against visiting UC Santa Barbara, but its rally fell short in the Big West Conference game in a 6-5 loss to the Gauchos (33-17-1, 11-12).
The Aggies (23-30, 7-16), who left seven runners on base, left two runners in scoring position in the ninth, UCD reported. Seth Baty, Adam Young and Nick Lynch each had two hits and an RBI.
– Bee Sports staff