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Big Green Take Twinbill at Sacramento State

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Senior David Turnbull stroked three doubles in the doubleheader sweep of Sacramento State.     By Beverly Schaefer

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Dartmouth banged out a season-high 18 hits in the first game of a twinbill at Sacramento State, then relied on the pitching of junior Michael Johnson and freshman Thomas Olson in the nightcap to complete a sweep of the Hornets on Saturday afternoon, 12-4 and 6-1. The two victories were the first of the 2012 season for the Big Green (2-4), while Sacramento State (7-11) had its modest two-game winning streak snapped.

In the first game, Dartmouth jumped all over Hornet hurler Tanner Mendonca, who entered the contest with a 1.45 ERA over 31.0 innings. The first seven Big Green batters hit safely, beginning with back-to-back doubles by senior Joe Sclafani and freshman Thomas Roulis. Four runs crossed the plate, and it could have been more if not for one runner being thrown out after rounding second too far, and another getting picked off second by catcher Derrick Chung.

The second inning was more of the same as the first five reached base for Dartmouth, although Chung picked off another runner at second to help control the damage. But sophomore Jeff Keller walked with the bases loaded to force in a run and junior Ennis Coble drove in another with a fielder’s choice, making it a 6-0 ball game.

Sacramento State touched Big Green sophomore southpaw Mitch Horacek for single runs in the third and fourth frames. David Del Grande doubled home Kyle Moses who had singled with one out in the third, and Kasey Chapan lofted a sacrifice fly in the fourth after the Hornets loaded the bases with nobody out on a double sandwiched between two hit batters. Despite that sudden wildness, Horacek escaped the inning with just the one run scoring.

Freshman Matt MacDowell delivered an RBI single in the fifth for the Big Green, plating Keller who started the inning with a single. But Sacramento State answered with two runs in the bottom half on consecutive RBI doubles by Chung and Trevor Paine, bringing the Hornets within three, 7-4.

After those doubles and an infield single, however, Horacek (1-1) retired the final seven batters of the game to finish off his first career complete game. In his seven innings on the mound, he surrendered four runs, all earned, on seven hits and three hit batters but no walks while striking out a career-high six.

The offense put the game out of reach in the top of the seventh as well, ripping reliever Brandon Creel for five straight hits that led to five runs. The big hit for Dartmouth was senior David Turnbull’s three-run double down the left-field line.

Every hitter in the Dartmouth starting lineup recorded at least one hit and reached base at least twice. Keller and Coble each had three hits, while the former doubled, scored twice and drove in two more.

Mendonca (2-3) took the loss after lasting just two innings, yielding six runs on nine hits and three walks. Paine smacked a single and two doubles for a perfect 3-for-3 game at the plate.

The nightcap was a pitchers’ duel for the first four innings with neither side able to dent the scoreboard. The Big Green finally broke through against right-hander Ty Nichols (0-2) in the fifth, starting with infield hits by Turnbull and MacDowell. A one-out walk to Sclafani loaded the bases, and Roulis stroked a two-run single back through the box to break the scoreless deadlock.

Johnson, meanwhile, put goose eggs on the board for the first five innings before the Hornets got to him in the sixth. Will Soto laid down a bunt single on the first pitch and took second on a balk. A fly ball allowed him to tag up and take third before Chung dumped an RBI single into right-center. Another single led to Olson being summoned from the bullpen, and the rookie right-hander retired the next two hitters to preserve the 2-1 Big Green lead.

Dartmouth immediately answered in the top of the seventh against reliever Tyler Hoelzen, who had entered in the fifth. Roulis, junior Chris O'Dowd and Coble all drilled RBI doubles off the lefty, chasing him from the mound, and Turnbull stroked his third two-bagger of the doubleheader to drive in the fourth run against Garrett Kraemer for a 6-1 advantage.

Olson shut the Hornets down for the rest of the game, picking up his first collegiate save with 3.2 scoreless innings of work, allowing just two hits while striking out three. Johnson (1-0) earned the victory, yielding just one run over 5.1 frames on six hits and two walks with one whiff.

Roulis and Turnbull each had three hits to account for half of Dartmouth’s dozen knocks with the latter stroking two doubles and the former driving in three of the six Big Green runs.

Nichols (0-2) was saddled with the loss by giving up the first two runs in 4.2 innings, allowing six hits and two walks with three strikeouts.

The two teams square off again on Sunday at John Smith Field in the fourth of five games, beginning at 4 p.m. (EDT).