SACRAMENTO, Calif. - The Sacramento State baseball team, winners in eight of its last 10 games, will hit the road this weekend to meet UC Santa Barbara for a three game series at Cesar Uyesaka Stadium.
The Hornets (10-6) will battle the Gauchos (9-6) at 3 p.m. on Friday, 2 p.m. on Saturday and 1 p.m. on Sunday.
Sacramento State will throw RHP Tanner Mendonca on Friday, RHP Brennan Leitao on Saturday and RHP Zach Morgan on Sunday.
SACRAMENTO STATE BREAKDOWN
Team BA: .283 Team ERA: 3.17 Errors: 10
All-Time Series: The Hornets are 22-26 against UC Santa Barbara since joining Div. I (1990+).
Recently: Sacramento State has won eight of its last 10 games, including series wins over Utah Valley and Cal State Northridge. The Hornets have not played a road series since opening the year at Texas.
UC SANTA BARBARA BREAKDOWN
Team BA: .264 Team ERA: 3.75 Errors: 15
Friday SP: RHP Austin Pettibone (2-1, 1.98)
Saturday SP: 44 Justin Jacome (1-1, 3.42)
Sunday SP: TBA
Recently: The Gauchos upset No. 17 ranked Notre Dame, 7-2, on Tuesday after being swept in a three-game series at Texas last weekend.
THE LAST SEVEN DAYS
Sacramento State took 2-of-3 from Cal State Northridge last weekend and trounced Saint Mary's, 10-0, on Tuesday. Second baseman Andrew Ayers hit a team-high .438 over the four-game stretch with two doubles, a home run and five RBIs. The Hornets hit .331 in the last four games while recording a 3.00 team ERA. LHP Tyler Hoelzen and RHP Hunter Greewood allowed just one hit each in two relief appearances.
ON A ROLL
Sacramento State is on a roll lately, having won eight of its last 10 games dating back to a 7-4 series splitting victory against UC Riverside on Feb. 24. The Hornets have outscored their opponents 66-28 during that 10-game stretch with 25 doubles, six home runs and a .294 team batting average and .420 slugging percentage. Opponents are hitting .225 in that same span and slugging just .294. Third baseman Will Soto is hitting a team-best .351 in the last 10 games while LHP Tyler Hoelzen has allowed just two hits in 8.2 innings of scoreless relief in six appearances.
HIGLEY BACK-TO-BACK BOMBS
Left fielder Justin Higley has hit a home run in two straight games entering the weekend series at UC Santa Barbara. The left-handed hitting Higley crushed a solo home run to right center last Sunday against Cal State Northridge and went opposite field again on Tuesday with a two-run shot at Saint Mary's. Sacramento State has eight home runs so far this season and six in the last six games.
Sacramento State is undefeated in three midweek games this year. The Hornets defeated Nevada, UC Davis and Saint Mary's by a combined score of 28-1.
IN THE ZONE
Sacramento State pitching has been in command of the strike zone lately and the Hornets have issued just nine walks in the last seven games. Starting with one out in the eighth inning on March 1 against Utah Valley, Sacramento State went 25 innings without a walk before UC Davis drew a free pass with one out in the sixth inning on March 5. The Hornets issued no free passes in three of the last seven games.
BATS HEATING UP
Sacramento State has smacked 68 hits over the last five games, averaging 13.6 per game. The Hornets recorded 20 hits in a 14-0 win at UC Davis on March 5, the most in three seasons under head coach Reggie Christiansen. After the win against the Aggies, the Hornets posted 33 hits in a three-game series with Cal State Northridge last weekend and had 15 more in a 10-0 win at Saint Mary's on Tuesday.
OFFENSE STILL HAS ROOM TO GROW
The Hornets are hitting .283 through the first 16 games of the season, (fourth best in the WAC) but based on last year's numbers, there is still some room to grow. Last year, 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 2012, the Hornets had eight regular starters hit .270 or better, with five players hitting over .300. In 2011, Sacramento State had just one regular starter who hit over .270 and none break .300.
PITCHING SHOWING PROMISE
After defeating Saint Mary's 10 on Tuesday, the Hornets have recorded three shutouts in the last eight games after tallying four shutouts in 59 games last year.
HOELZEN'S SO HOT RIGHT NOW
In his last six appearances, LHP Tyler Hoelzen has allowed just two hits in 8.2 scoreless innings with nine strikeouts and three walks. Opponents are hitting just .158 off Hoelzen so far this season.
The Hornets have made just 10 errors through their first 16 games, and have made just four errors in the last eight games and have a .984 fielding percentage this season. 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 2012. The Hornets made just 47 errors in 59 games. Head coach Reggie Christiansen led Sacramento State to its third-best all-time fielding percentage in 2011 at .969.
BIG PRODUCTION TO START AND FINISH
Sacramento State is outscoring opponents 23-12 over the first two innings and 21-8 over the last two innings in 16 games this season. The Hornets are 10-0 this year when leading or tied in the ninth inning. Sacramento State has two walk-off wins, coming on shortstop Scotty Burcham's squeeze bunt in a 4-3 win over UC Riverside on Feb. 23 and on center fielder David Del Grande's bases-loaded single in a 4-3 win over Cal State Northridge on March 8.
DOUBLES FOR DAYS
Sacramento State has hit at least one double in eight straight games and 24 total in that stretch. The Hornets have smacked 31 doubles this year and 40 extra base hits. Sacramento State had 122 doubles in 59 games 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) in a game at UC Riverside last season. The Hornets hit at least one double in 23 of the last 24 games and tallied 10 doubles in four games at the WAC Tournament.