SACRAMENTO, Calif. - The Sacramento State baseball team will host UC Riverside in a four-game home-opening series this weekend at John Smith Field.
The two teams will meet at 2 p.m. on Friday before playing an 11 a.m. doubleheader on Saturday. Sacramento State and UC Riverside will close out the series at noon on Sunday.
The Hornets (1-2) opened up the 2013 season on the road last weekend at Texas while the Highlanders (1-3) played Utah Valley and Gonzaga once plus No. 6 ranked Oregon State twice at the Beavers' season-opening tournament in Palm Springs, Calif.
Live stats and an online radio broadcast are available on www.hornetsports.com.
SACRAMENTO STATE BREAKDOWN
Team BA: .245 Team ERA: 5.04 Errors: 1
All-Time Series: The Hornets are 3-9 versus UC Riverside since joining Div. I for the 1990 season.
Recently: The reigning WAC regular season co-champions took 1-of-3 at Texas on opening weekend. Brennan Leitao earned the win on Saturday after allowing two runs in seven innings.
UC RIVERSIDE BREAKDOWN
Team BA: .205 Team ERA: 6.55 Errors: 11
Friday SP: LHP Dylan Stuart (0-1, 5.79)
Saturday SP1: RHP Jacob Smigelski (0-0, 5.79)
Saturday SP2: LHP Ben Doucette (0-1, 81.00)
Sunday SP: RHP Mitch Patito (0-0, 5.79)
Recently: UC Riverside defeated future WAC member Utah Valley but lost to Gonzaga and No. 6 ranked Oregon State twice at the Beavers' opening weekend tournament in Palm Springs, Calif. Clayton Prestidge hit a team-best .400 while Phil Holinsworth drove in five runs and posted one of two Highlander triples.
LEGACY BANNER & PLAYER REUNION
Sacramento State will unveil a nearly 125-foot banner honoring coaches and players from the 1960's through the present on opening weekend against UC Riverside. Dick Bach, an All-American in 1960, will be present, as will Dean Andoe, Norm Marks and Spider Thomas. Former head coach and athletics director Cal Boyes, will also be recognized before the game. Sacramento State's 1961 team, which included Bach, Andoe and Marks, was runner-up at the NAIA Tournament while the 1964 team, featuring Thomas, won an NCAA District title. Boyes coached both teams during his 17-year tenure.
Sacramento State opened up its 2013 season with a series at Texas last weekend and the Hornets took 1-of-3 games. RHP Brennan Leitao earned the victory after allowing just two runs on six hits with four strikeouts and one walk in a 5-3 win on Saturday. Freshman RHP Sutter McLoughlin allowed just one hit over 1.2 innings with no walks to notch the save in his first collegiate appearance. Sacramento State posted 26 hits over the three-game set. Freshman OF Nathan Lukes (pronounced Lucas) and 1B Rhys Hoskins each hit a team-best .385. Lukes had a team-high four runs scored while batting leadoff and Hoskins drove in a team-best four RBIs while hitting cleanup. DH Chris Lewis and OF David Del Grande each smacked home runs in Sunday's 6-3 loss.
LAST YEAR VERSUS UC RIVERSIDE
Sacramento State dropped a three-game series at UC Riverside last season, two games to one. It wasn't RHP Tanner Mendonca's fault, however, in the second game of the series as the then-sophomore allowed just one run on six hits over eight innings with one walk and season-high 10 strikeouts but was out-dueled by UC Riverside starter Eddie Orozco, who recorded 15 strikeouts in a shutout 1-0 victory. 1B Rhys Hoskins and OF Kyle Moses each hit .333 in the series while RHP Brennan Leitao earned the lone win.
The Hornets made only one error in their opening three-game series at Texas while the Longhorns tallied four. Sacramento State set a new school record and ranked No. 5 in the nation with a .979 fielding percentage last year. The Hornets had the No. 1 mark in the NCAA for four straight weeks earlier in the season. The Hornets made just 47 errors in 59 games. Head coach Reggie Christiansen led Sacramento State to its third-best fielding percentage in program history in 2011 at .969.
DOUBLES FOR DAYS
The Hornets continued to hit extra base hits at a high level to start the 2013 season, with five doubles in its opening series at Texas. OF Nathan Lukes (2) and 1B Rhys Hoskins (3) combined for all the doubles in the series. Sacramento State had 122 doubles last season, good for No. 21 in the NCAA. The Hornets tallied at least one double in all but seven games and hit 3-or-more on 16 occassions. Sacramento State had a season-high seven doubles (out of 10 total hits) at UC Riverside on March 9. They hit at least one double in 23 of the last 24 games and tallied 10 doubles in four games at the WAC Tournament.
HOSKINS ON SPORTCENTER'S TOP PLAYS
After making an over-the-wall catch on a foul ball down the first base line at Texas in Sacramento State's 5-3 win on Saturday, 1B Rhys Hoskins was included in ESPN SportCenter's top plays at No. 4.
The WAC lost Hawai'i, Fresno State and Nevada from a season ago, but added CSU Bakersfield, Seattle U, Texas State, Texas-San Antonio, Texas-Arlington and Dallas Baptist for 2012. Sacramento State, New Mexico State, Louisiana Tech and San Jose State remain from last year. In 2014 the league will undergo another massive realignment and, for baseball, the Hornets will be joined by CSU Bakersfield, Chicago State, Grand Canyon, New Mexico State, North Dakota, Northern Colorado, Seattle U, Texas-Pan American and Utah Valley.
WAC REGULAR SEASON CHAMPIONS
The Sacramento State baseball team clinched its first Western Athletic Conference championship in program history last season.The Hornets (11-7 WAC) split the WAC regular season title with Nevada (11-7) and New Mexico State (11-7). Sacramento State finished in last place in 2011 and joined Cornell as the only teams in the nation that went from last place to first place in 2012. The Hornets swept Hawai'i, took 2-of-3 from Louisiana Tech, Nevada and San Jose State and 1-of-3 from then-No. 25 ranked New Mexico State and Fresno State. The Hornets finished .500 or better just twice in 11 previous seasons in the WAC. Sacramento State's last league title was in 1986, as a member of the Div. II Northern California Athletic Conference.
JUST SHORT AT THE WAC TOURNAMENT
Sacramento State battled Fresno State to 13 innings in the longest game ever at the WAC Tournament, but the Hornets lost to the Bulldogs, 4-3, in the title game at Hohokam Stadium in Mesa, Ariz. It was a pitching duel early, with Sacramento State starter RHP Dallas Chadwick and Fresno State starter Thomas Harlan going head-to-head. Chadwick allowed just one hit through the first six innings. The Hornets took an early lead when C Derrick Chung drove in a run on a single in the third and went up 2-0 when 3B Will Soto tallied an RBI on a ground ball out in the fourth. Fresno State did its damage with three runs on four hits, including two doubles, in the bottom of the seventh inning to take a 3-2 lead. In the previous game, the Bulldogs also took the lead in the seventh with a four-run inning. Down a run, the Hornets answered with a run on OF David Del Grande's groundout in the eighth to tie the score, 3-3. It was still tied, 3-3, with two runners on and just one out in the bottom of the ninth for Fresno State. Senior CL R.J. Davis got Bulldogs shortstop Chris Mariscal to line out to third and Soto doubled off Fresno State catcher Austin Wynns at second base. Both teams were scoreless in extra innings until the bottom of the 13th. With one out following a walk, Wynns singled to give the Bulldogs runners on first and second. The next batter, Justin Luplow, provided the game-winning hit, a single to right which scored Daniel Moultrie from second to ice the ballgame. The Hornets hadn't played into the 13th inning of a game since Feb. 9, 2002. In 11 all-time WAC Tournament games, the Hornets faced Fresno State six times, including three times (1-2) in 2012.
AYERS NAMED WAC MVP, ALL-REGION
2B Andrew Ayers was named WAC Player of the Year and earned second team all-West Region honors last year. Ayers hit .427 in 18 league games with a conference-best 18 RBIs. (WAC postseason awards are based on conference statistics). Overall, Ayers was third on the team with a .336 batting average plus 16 doubles, two triples, three home runs and 31 RBIs. He was a dynamo in the field, making just four errors in 58 games with a .986 fielding percentage. He tallied a team-high 160 assists. Ayers was the first Hornet to ever be named all-West Region and the second to claim WAC MVP.
HOSKINS EARNS PAIR OF FROSH AWARDS
Rhys Hoskins became the first consensus freshman All-American in program history and the second WAC Freshman of the Year last season. Hoskins was named a first team freshman All-American by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, Baseball America and Louisville Slugger and was a second team choice by Perfect Game. Hoskins led the Hornets with a .353 batting average, a .567 slugging percentage, 10 home runs, 44 runs scored and 53 RBIs. He ranked second in the WAC in batting average, second in slugging, third in home runs, third in RBIs, sixth in runs and sixth in doubles (16). The transition to the college game never phased him as Hoskins jumped out to a hot start and hit .390 in 38 non-conference games. Hoskins had a pair of grand slams on the season and posted a team-best 16-game hitting streak from March 17 to April 11.
CHRISTIANSEN COACH OF THE YEAR
Head coach Reggie Christiansen earned WAC Coach of the Year honors last season after leading the Hornets to their first ever WAC regular season title and their first 30-win season since 2003. Christiansen and the Hornets ranked No. 5 in the nation in fielding percentage (.979), No. 21 in doubles (122) and No. 30 in team batting average (.298).
WAC POSTSEASON TEAMS
2B Andrew Ayers was named WAC Player of the Year, 1B Rhys Hoskins earned Freshman of the Year and Reggie Christiansen claimed Coach of the Year, but in addition to the three individual award winners, the Hornets had three players (OF Justin Higley, C Derrick Chung and Ayers) named first team all-WAC and three more earned second team all-league honors (1B Trevor Paine, RHP Dallas Chadwick and Hoskins). The WAC postseason awards and all-conference teams are voted on by the league's seven coaches. Statisitics in WAC games are given priority in voting.
BETTER WITH THE BATS
The Hornets hit .245 in their opening series at Texas but, based on last year's numbers, that is probably not going to be the trend. Last year, the Hornets had eight regular starters hit .270 or better, with five players hitting over .300. The Hornets batted .298 as a team and finished strong, with 10+ hits in 20 of their last 24 games. In four games at the WAC Tournament, Sacramento State scored 32 runs on a whopping 60 hits. In 2011, Sacramento State had just one regular starter who hit over .270 and none break .300.