BASEBALL FACES FRESNO STATE IN FIRST ROUND OF WAC TOURNAMENT
With the regular season behind it, the Sacramento State baseball team will now begin its postseason on Thursday, May 24. The Hornets enter the Western Athletic Conference tournament as the sixth seed and will take on top-seeded Fresno State in the first game on Thursday. First pitch against the Bulldogs is scheduled for 11 a.m. at Peccole Park on the campus of Nevada.
The game is a rematch of last season’s first round where Fresno State recorded a 10-2 win. Sacramento State went on to face Louisiana Tech in the second round and fell 14-9.
The 2007 WAC Tournament will again be a double-elimination format. The other first round games will pit Louisiana Tech against San Jose State at 3 p.m. and Hawai’i against Nevada at 7 p.m. Fresno State is followed in the seedings by Nevada, La Tech, San Jose State, Hawai’i and Sacramento State.
With a win over Fresno State, the Hornets would face the loser of the LT-SJSU matchup at 3 p.m. on Friday. A first-round loss would make Sacramento State play the loser of Nevada-Hawai’i at 11 a.m. on Friday.
All tournament passes can be purchased for as low as $20 for a general admission seat. Single game tickets start at $10.
This week’s games will be broadcast on www.hornetsports.com. Ben Schneider will handle the play-by-play duties and will be joined by Brian Berger. Schneider replaces Dylan McKenzie who is currently working for the class-A Ashville Tourists. All three games this week will go on the internet approximately 10 minutes before first pitch.
Since moving to Div. I in 1990, Sacramento State has only played in two postseason tournaments. The first game came in 1998 when the Hornets qualified for the Big West Tournament. The team fell to Long Beach State, 8-7, in the first round but then knocked off Cal State Fullerton, 6-5, and UC Santa Barbara, 15-11. The Cinderella run ended in the championship game with a 24-10 loss to Long Beach State.
That tournament marked the final postseason event hosted by the Big West and Sacramento State did not have another postseason opportunity until last season.
As the sixth seed in the tournament, the Hornets were downed by host Fresno State, 10-2, during the first round before being eliminated by Louisiana Tech, 14-9, the next morning.
Prior to moving to Div. I, Sacramento State was a fixture in the Div. II national tournament. In fact, the Hornets made two appearances at the Div. II College World Series (1986 and 1988). In 1988, Sacramento State lost to Florida Southern, 5-4, in the national championship game.
Entering the start of the 2007 season, starting first baseman and clean-up hitter Gabe Jacobo had just 19 at-bats under his belt. From the only true freshman on the squad a year ago, to an everyday starter and clubhouse leader in 365 days, Jacobo is currently hitting a team-best .358 from the plate.
Jacobo recorded the biggest day of his collegiate career on May 1 at Pacific. The sophomore homered in the first inning, singled in the second and homered again in the third. He also added another single later in the game for his first collegiate four-hit performance. His first three at-bats drove in six of the team’s 11 runs during that stretch.
Jacobo also became the first Hornet to hit multiple home runs in the same game since Jack Arroyo and Brian Blauser each hit a pair against San Francisco on May 4, 2004.
Last week, he led the team with a .333 average (4-for-12). His biggest blast came on Saturday when he crushed his 13th home run of the year over the scoreboard in left center. The shot left him just one home run shy of seventh place in school single season history and are the most hit since Mikela Olsen and Jesse Schmidt each hit 16 in 2003.
The Tulare, Calif., native came to Sacramento State as a shortstop but was converted to a first baseman during last season. Now a regular in the lineup, Jacobo has been one of the most clutch players on the team. This season, when batting with a runner on third and less than two outs, he has driven in the run 12-of-21 times.
After going hitless in consecutive games for just the second time this season, Jacobo has pounded out at least one hit in 16 of the past 18 games.
Flores Still on Fire
Over the last seven weeks, there have been few hitters in the country hotter that David Flores. The junior has raised his average 119 points during that span and is now fourth on the team with a .312 average.
Flores had his career-best 14-game hitting streak come to a close last week against UC Davis but has hit safely in the past two games. The 14-game streak is tied for seventh in school history. Jesse Schmidt holds the record with a 24-gamer in 2003. Casey Simpson (22, 1992), Josh Payne (21, 1998), Derek Brown (18, 1994), Harvey Hargrove (16, 1997) and Ray Brown (15, 1994) hold down second through seventh, respectively.
Flores has also posted a career high for hits in the year with 64. That total is 10 better than his previous high of 54 which came last year.
Flores began 2007 slowly, dipping to .197 following the New Mexico State series on March 18. Since then, he has hit safely in 27 of the 32 games.
Over the last 10 games, Flores is hitting .364 with a team-high 16 hits.
The Union City, Calif., native has also posted career numbers on the base paths. Flores has swiped 11 bases in 14 attempts during 2007. That total surpasses his career total prior to this year as he stole three bases in each of his first two seasons.
Late season success in nothing new to Flores. Last year, he hit .395 against WAC competition and was named second team all-league.
Numbers to Dye For
Senior Montana Dye is closing out his collegiate career in grand fashion. The right fielder has raised his average to .317 and now ranks second on the team.
Along with his average, Dye has also been able to hit for power. His 11 doubles, three triples and eight home runs are second.
Last weekend, Dye ranked second on the team with a .300 average. He also hit his eighth HR of the year on Sunday at Santa Clara.
Dye has also been spectacular in clutch situations. He is 19-of-55 (.345) with runners in scoring positions and is 12-of-17 (.706) with a runner on third and less than two outs.
A transfer from Saddleback JC, Dye has been a fixture in right field since coming to campus last year. During his career, he has already thrown out 10 runners, including six this season.
Blair Hit Project
With a .375 average in the last 10 games, Ryan Blair has continued his climb up the stat sheet. Blair enters the WAC Tournament hitting. 315 to rank third on the team. The junior is also third on the team with 62 hits and leads the squad with five triples.
The left fielder has been one of the most consistent hitters at the plate since mid-April. Blair strung together an 11-game hitting streak until going 0-for-4 at Santa Clara in the regular season finale.
While he has been solid at the plate, Blair has also been very good on the basepaths, stealing 18 bases in 21 attempts.
A native of Visalia, Calif., Blair is tied for the league lead in triples and ranks third in the WAC in stolen bases.
From the Top
Senior Gary Johnson has picked up his performance at the plate in recent weeks. Hitting out of the two spot of late, Johnson is batting .367 during the month of May. The second baseman is 11-of-30, has scored nine runs and also has two doubles and a home run.
Johnson also reached base seven other times, drawing a walk and being hit by six pitches.
Last season, Johnson hit .312 while starting 55 games. However, a slow start to this season found him platooning at second midway through the year.
Freshman Tim Wheeler is capping a strong freshman season with a postseason berth. The Sacramento native heads into the WAC Tournament ranked fifth on the team with a .311 batting average. Wheeler has also belted out six home runs — the most by a Hornet freshman since Chris Kinsey hit seven in 2001.
Wheeler has also controlled the outfield, making 51 starts in center field, and recording numerous diving catches.
He has also used his speed on the basepaths, swiping 13 stolen bases to rank second on the team.
Lively Climbing the Lists
Junior Mitch Lively has already cracked the career top 10 list in a pair of categories at Sacramento State. Lively is currently tied for sixth in school history with 61 appearances and eight career saves. All eight of his saves have come this year which places him in a tie for fourth.
After a tough stretch, Lively has converted his last four save attempts.
Lively is not the only Hornet in the book. Billy Sinacori is fourth with 10 career saves and Cyrus Sarraf is tied for fourth on the single season appearance list with 25. Both Lively and Sarraf are now just two appearances shy of tying Michael Penbera’s single season record of 27 which came in 2000.
Both Patrick Cummins and Gary Johnson have earned a painful spot in the Hornet record book. Johnson has been hit by a pitch 13 times this season to raise his career total to 31 in just two years. His career mark is second all-time at Sacramento State and his 2007 total is tied for fourth.
Cummins has been plunked 12 times this season and now has been hit 16 times in his career. His single-season total is tied for eighth.
Buddy Morales (2006), Carlos Morales (2000, no relation) and Dan Vetter (1955) each hold a share of the single season record of 19. Carlos Morales owns the career mark with 36 between 2000-01.
Catch Them If You Can
At the beginning of the season, the Sacramento State coaching staff said the team’s athleticism, speed and ability to execute would be the philosophy of this team. Through 55 games this season, Sacramento State has stolen 75 bases in 101 attempts. Last year, the team swiped 53 bags in 83 tries.
Individually, Ryan Blair paces the team with 18 steals. Jacobo had been perfect in 10 attempts this year until he was gunned down on Saturday. In all, 12 players have at least one stolen base this season.