Grand Canyon University falls short in NCAA tourney bid
Sacramento State earned an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament with a 5-4 win over Grand Canyon in the winner-take-all finale of the Western Athletic Conference Tournament on Sunday at Hohokam Stadium in Mesa.
The third-seeded Hornets held off an eighth inning rally from No. 4 GCU to earn their third WAC tournament championship in the last six seasons.
After losing the opener of the tournament, Sacramento State reeled off six straight wins to claim the title, becoming the first team in conference tournament history to do so.
Sacramento State also became the first team to eliminate all five of the other teams in the tournament.
The Hornets got on the board first on Sunday with a solo home run off the bat of Steven Moretto in the top of the first.
In the third, back-to-back home runs from Matt Smith and Dawsen Bacho extended the Hornets lead to 3-0.
A solo home run from Preston Pavlica in the bottom of the inning brought GCU within two runs.
An RBI single in the sixth from Bronson Grubbs and an eighth inning sacrifice fly by Trevor Doyle put Sacramento State up 5-1.
In the bottom of the eighth, the Lopes closed the gap.
Pikai Winchester brought home a run with a single before an error and an RBI groundout allowed two more to score.
In the bottom of the ninth, Austin Roberts escaped a first-and-third situation to secure the win for Sacramento State and earn the save.
The Hornets’ Tanner Dalton pitched five innings, allowing two hits, one earned run and one walk, while striking out four to earn the win.
Bacho was named tournament MVP after batting .323 with three home runs, two doubles and eight RBI.
The NCAA Tournament field will be announced today at 9 a.m. on ESPNU.