WORST TO FIRST: BASEBALL CLINCHES SHARE OF WAC REGULAR SEASON TITLE
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - After Hawai'i's win over Nevada on Saturday night, the Sacramento State baseball team clinched its first Western Athletic Conference championship in school history.
The Hornets clinched a share of their first WAC regular season title in 11 years with the league.
The Hornets (11-7 WAC) split the WAC regular season title with Nevada (11-7 WAC). New Mexico State (10-7) could also secure a share of the league's regular season title with a win on Sunday at San Jose State.
Sacramento State finished in last place with just six conference wins in 2011. The Hornets join Cornell as the only teams in the nation to go from last a season ago to first place this year.
"Our staff and players have worked very hard to climb from worst to first," said head coach Reggie Christiansen. "Since September we have been on a mission and we've now accomplished the first step. As coaches, we couldn't be more proud of our team."
Sacramento State used defense and hitting to climb into the league's elite. The Hornets (.294) have the second highest team batting average in the league while making a WAC-low 43 errors. Sacramento State has been ranked among the nation's best in fielding percentage all season.
Depending on New Mexico State's outcome on Sunday at San Jose State, the Hornets could earn either the No. 1 or No. 2 seed to the WAC Tournament, which starts on May 23 at Hohokam Park in Mesa, Ariz.
In both cases, Christiansen and the Hornets have gained a coveted first-round bye. The top six teams in the seven-team WAC advance to the league's postseason tournament, with the No. 3 seed meeting the No. 6 and the No. 4 seed playing the No. 5 in the first round. If the Hornets are the No. 1 seed, they will play the lower seeded winner in the secound round. If they are the No. 2 seed, they will play the higher seeded winner. The WAC Tournament is double-elimination and the winner earns the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Free live stats and an online radio broadcast will be available at www.hornetsports.com for each of the Hornets' games in the WAC Tournament. The conference offers live streaming video via its web site - www.wacsports.com - for $17.95, which includes every game.
The Hornets have been in the WAC for 11 seasons over two different stints. Sacramento State was in the WAC from 1993-96 and again from 2006 to present. In those 11 seasons, the Hornets have finished with a .500 record or better just twice before this season's 11-7 performance. Sacramento State defeated Louisiana Tech, Nevada, San Jose State and Hawai'i in WAC series this season while taking 1-of-3 against then No. 25-ranked New Mexico State and Fresno State.
Sacramento State's last league title was a Northern California Athletic Conference championship in 1986, when the Hornets were still in Div. II. Baseball moved to Div. I in 1990.
Sacramento State closes out its regular season on Sunday against UNLV. The Hornets will honor their five seniors - Derrick Chung, Brent Hottman, R.J. Davis, Trevor Paine and Hunter Adrian - before the final home game of their careers.