Senior shortstop Scotty Burcham hit a two-run homer and freshman first baseman Vinny Esposito homered, doubled and drove in two runs as host Sacramento State defeated first-place Grand Canyon 5-2 on Thursday afternoon in the first of a crucial three-game series.
The win moved Sac State (30-23, 16-9) to within 1 1/2 games of the Antelopes (30-22, 17-7) and kept alive the Hornets’ hopes of repeating as Western Athletic Conference regular-season champions.
Burcham’s home run, his third in two games, broke a 2-2 tie in the eighth inning. Esposito followed one batter later with a solo shot as the Hornets scored three times.
Esposito doubled-in Burcham in the bottom of the fourth to cut Grand Canyon’s lead to 2-1. Burcham led off the inning with a single to center for his 230th career hit. Nathan Lukes drove in Dan Deely with a sacrifice fly to left to tie the game in the bottom of the fifth.
Hornets starting pitcher Sam Long threw six innings and allowed six hits with one earned run. Ty Nichols (5-0) pitched two no-hit innings to pick up the win. Hornets career saves leader Sutter McLoughlin earned his seventh of the season and 33rd of his career.
Grand Canyon came into the game with a .311 batting average, ninth best among NCAA Division I teams.
The series resumes Friday at 3 p.m., and concludes Saturday at noon.