Despite a career-best pitching performance by Will Dennis (Saratoga, Calif.) and numerous chances for the Redhawk offense to take the lead, Seattle University could not capitalize, and Sacramento State finally put together a couple of hits in the 15th inning to pull out a 4-3 victory Saturday afternoon in Western Athletic Conference baseball action at John Smith Field.
Scotty Burcham led off the bottom of the 15th inning with an infield single and advanced to second base on a sacrifice bunt from Dane Fujinaka. Brandon Hunley would end the marathon contest by sending a ball through the right side of the infield, allowing Burcham to come around and score the game-winning run.
Dennis, Seattle U’s closer whose career-long outing was four innings, doubled that length Saturday with an eight-inning performance, allowing just four hits and one walk while striking out four Hornet batters. He threw 64 pitchers, 43 of them for strikes, plus he induced three double plays from Sacramento State, but the lack of runs from the offense would eventually cause him to take the loss.
Seattle U had the first scoring chance in extra innings, as Cullen Hendrickson (Auburn, Wash.) led off the 11th inning with a single and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Griffin Andreychuk (Nanaimo, B.C.). A single by Grant Newton (Bend, Ore.) and a walk to pinch hitter Sam Finfer (Bellevue, Wash.) loaded the bases with just one out, but Newton was picked off second base after Chase Fields (Ontario, Ore.) failed to make contact on a squeeze bunt attempt. Fields was hit by a pitch to once again load the bases, but Hornet closer Sutter Mcloughlin forced a popout to keep the game tied at 3-3.
Brian Olson (Black Diamond, Wash.) led off the 12th inning with a single up the middle, and pinch runner Colin Peterson (Bellingham, Wash.) advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Brock Carpenter (Milton, Wash.). With two outs, Hendrickson was intentionally walked, but Hornet reliever Chad Perry picked up a strikeout to end the Redhawk threat. Perry was also able to pitch out of a bases-loaded situation in the 13th inning, overcoming a single and two walks to prevent Seattle U from pulling ahead.
With one out in the top of the 15th inning, Sacramento State pitcher Austin Ragsdale ran into control problems, walking Finfer and Fields on eight pitches, and then hitting Ryan Somers (Sammamish, Wash.) with a pitch to load the bases. However, Ragsdale settled down, retiring the next two Redhawk batters to maintain the 3-3 tie.
In total, the Redhawks stranded 19 runners on base, including 12 runners left on base during the extra frames. The 15-inning affair was Seattle U’s longest in terms of innings since the Redhawks defeated BYU in 16 innings, 3-2, Apr. 29, 2010 at Bannerwood Park in Bellevue.
“When you leave 19 guys on base and make five errors, it is tough to win any game, but Will Dennis did an amazing job keeping us in the game and allowing us to have opportunities,” Seattle U head coach Donny Harrel said. “We need to learn from our failures today and be better in those situations tomorrow. This type of game can help us in the long run.”
With Seattle U down 3-2 heading into the sixth inning, Hendrickson greeted Hornet relief pitcher Sterling Humphry with a double down the right field line. He advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt by Andreychuk and scored when Austen Brand (Tacoma, Wash.) reached safely on a fielder’s choice, tying the game at 3-3.
In the bottom of the sixth inning, Brandon Hunley reached base on a Redhawk error, but he was thrown out at second base on a shot to center field by Nathan Lukes. A bunt single from Kyle Moses and a single up the middle by David Del Grande loaded the bases with one out, but Garrett Anderson (Kennewick, Wash.) induced a popout and a groundout to keep the score tied.
Anderson walked two batters in the bottom of the seventh inning, but Dennis came on in relief and induced an inning-ending double play. After Rhys Hoskins reached base on a Redhawk error to lead off the ninth inning, Dennis started another double play off a sacrifice bunt attempt, and then he picked up a strikeout to send the game into extra innings.
Sacramento State (19-11, 8-0 WAC) struck first in the bottom of the first inning as Lukes reached base on a Redhawk error and advanced to third base on a two-out double by Hoskins. Both runners would come home when another Seattle U made another miscue on a ball hit by Will Soto.
Seattle U broke through in the top of the fourth inning when Landon Cray (Chimacum, Wash.) led off with a walk, advanced to second on a groundout, reached third when Sacramento State starting pitcher Sam Long committed a balk, and scored on a groundout to shortstop hit by Carpenter. The Redhawks extended the inning thanks to a single by Cash McGuire (Kent, Wash.) and a double from Hendrickson, but Long was able to get the final out without any more runners scoring.
The Hornets reestablished its two-run lead in the bottom of the fourth inning as Scotty Burcham led off with a walk and advanced to second on a groundout. With two outs, Lukes reached on an infield single, advancing Burcham to third, and Moses would drive Burcham in with a single to center field. Del Grande walked to load the bases, but Anderson came on in relief of Redhawk starter Grant Gunning (Snohomish, Wash.) and struck out Hoskins to keep Seattle U close.
With two outs in the top of the fifth inning, Fields and Cray drew back-to-back walks, and Olson followed with a double down the left field line, driving in Fields. Carpenter drew a walk to load the bases, but Long once again pitched out of the jam, this time with a strikeout to keep the Hornets on top, 3-2.
Hendrickson led the Redhawks offensively with a 3-for-6 performance, including two doubles, and a walk, while Olson and Newton finished with two hits apiece. Fields reached base five times in the game with a hit, three walks, and being hit by a pitch, plus he stole three bases, the fourth time since 2010 that a Seattle U player has collected three stolen bases in a single game.
Seattle University (11-14, 3-2 WAC) concludes its series with Sacramento State Sunday, April 6, starting at 12 p.m., with links to live stats and live audio available on the baseball schedule page of GoSeattleU.com. The Redhawks then begin a five-game homestand Tuesday, April 8, against Washington at 6 p.m. at Bannerwood Park in Bellevue, Wash.