Six pitchers, 19 hits, 13 runs and two errors. Not exactly what the Wolverines were hoping for in their home opener Thursday night. The Hornets of Sacramento State made their presence known in the first game of a three-game set this week on their way to a 13-3 win over Utah Valley.
“It’s disappointing to play that way in front of our home fans,” said Wolverines head coach Eric Madsen. “There’s a couple of plays that if we make (them), we eliminate six runs. They scored six runs after two-out errors. That’s the disappointing part.”
The Hornets got the scoring started in the top of the second inning as they brought home three runs. The Wolverines responded with two runs of their own in the bottom of the second.
“I thought we swung the bat ok,” Madsen said. “We had chances for momentum and didn’t really take advantage of that and had a hard time on the mound. But they are an aggressive hitting team.”
That aggressiveness exploded in the third inning as Sacramento State expanded their lead to nine, knocking in eight unanswered runs, tallying an 11-3 lead. The Wolverines had a close call in the sixth inning as a Billy Burgess fly ball made its way over the wall and was originally called fair for a three run home run. The line judge made the fair call but was overruled by the home plate umpire, sending the runners back to their bases. Eventually Utah Valley would score one run in the inning.
The x-factor was pitching. The Hornets starter went eight strong innings only being relieved in the ninth.
“We really played into their hands,” Madsen said. “We pounded the strike zone pretty flat so it’s easy to hit when you are that aggressive. You’ve got to give them (Sacramento State) a lot of credit, they got after it and did their thing. We’ve got to evaluate our plan, I think we’ve got a good one and we’ll rebound for sure. But again it comes down to being aggressive with everything we do.”
That plan includes managing the rotation, which can be tricky after burning through six guys in one game.
“Guys tonight didn’t throw a ton of innings,” Madsen said. “We’ve got our guys lined up for tomorrow, so we are going to be in good shape.”
The Wolverines will host Sacramento State again Friday at 6 p.m. and Saturday at noon as they make their way through the first of 11 straight home games.