SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Sacramento State (7-9) opens its longest home stand of the season this week, hosting Big 10 school Minnesota (7-5) on Friday at 3 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m., and Sunday at 1 p.m. at John Smith Field.
Sacramento State has played just one game at John Smith Field since the opening weekend of the season but now plays nine straight home games, including seven at The John...Freshman LHP Sam Long, who will move into a weekend starting role on Saturday, has started each of the three Hornet midweek games this year going 1-0 with a 2.12 ERA...The Hornets were held to just five runs in four games last week and scored just one earned run in the week, being outscored 23-3 in three games played in Riverside...Closer Sutter McLoughlin has been part of the decision in six of the seven Hornet wins this season while not allowing a run over 9 innings and he has retired 19 consecutive batters...Minnesota, which plays its first 20 games of the season on the road, visits Sacramento for the third time, having lost twice to the Hornets in 2003 and winning twice in 2011.
Friday - 3:00 p.m.
SAC - Brennan Leitao (Jr./RHP, 1-2, 4.12 ERA)
MINN - Alec Crawford (Sr./RHP, 0-1, 4.64 ERA)
Saturday - 2:00 p.m.
SAC - Sam Long (Fr./LHP, 1-0, 2.50 ERA)
MINN - Jordan Jess (RSo./LHP, 0-1, 3.94 ERA)
Sunday - 1:00 p.m.
SAC – Dallas Chadwick (Jr./RHP, 0-1, 12.60 ERA)
MINN - Ben Meyer (RJr./RHP, 1-1, 2.74 ERA)
Sacramento State went 0-3 over the weekend, scoring just one run in each game, but the Hornets were not without opportunities to put runs on the board. The team stranded 24 runners on base in the three games, getting a good amount of base runners but hitting just 5-for-47 (.106) as a team with men on base. With the bases empty the squad hit a solid .264 and hit .370 in at bats leading off an inning but struggled to bring runners in. Hornet pitching also struggled, with the three starters combining for an 8.56 ERA over 13.2 innings. The bullpen allowed five earned runs over the first two games of the weekend but ended with 5.1 innings of strong relief on Sunday, allowing just one run and one hit with five strikeouts.
In For The Long Hall
LHP Sam Long made his third career start last Wednesday against Nevada and threw six scoreless innings, allowing just four hits and three walks with three strikeouts. Long has allowed just 17 hits and four earned runs over 17.0 innings pitched as a starter this year with a 2.12 ERA and is one of just two pitchers to defeat Fresno State this season. In his collegiate debut at Fresno State the Rancho Cordova native allowed just one earned run on six hits and no walks with three strikeouts over five innings to earn the win, and he allowed just three runs in a no-decision a week ago vs. Nevada. Long is expected to move into the weekend rotation and start on Saturday against the Gophers.
Starting at the Top
Sophomore Nathan Lukes has started in right field and hit leadoff in every game this season and is hitting .350 with a .444 on-base percentage, leading the team in both categories as well as hits (21), runs (10), and walks (10). He also has three RBIs, two doubles, one stolen base, and a 1.000 fielding percentage with three outfield assists. Among his five multi-hit games this season are a three-hit game against Nevada and a four-hit game against Utah and he has reached base in 10 consecutive games.
2013 Freshman All-American Sutter McLoughlin has been nearly that this season after he broke the program record with 17 saves as a freshman. He leads the WAC this season with four saves already recorded, including a six-out save to preserve a shutout against No. 21 Texas A&M. McLoughlin also has two wins this season as he has factored in six of the seven Hornet victories. Over 9.0 innings he has not given up a run and has allowed just two hits and one walk with 10 strikeouts and a .071 opponent batting average. He has set down 19 consecutive batters and has not allowed a base runner over his last four outings (six innings).
Rally to Raley
The Hornets are 2-0 with still five games remaining this season at Raley Field, the home of the Sacramento Rivercats. Since the field was constructed in 2000 Sacramento State had played there just five times with a 2-3 record: two games each in 2001 and 2002 and a single game last year, a 3-2 loss vs. Fresno State. Sacramento State has remaining midweek games this season against Pacific, Air Force, San Francisco, Oregon State and, for the third time, Causeway rival UC Davis under the Raley lights.
Sacramento State is 3-0 in midweek games so far this season, due in large part to the pitching of Sam Long, who has started all three games, but also an uptick in hitting. Though it is a small sample size, the squad is hitting .301 in midweek games but just .235 in series games, and the team's era is 2.25 in the three midweek games and 4.50 in series. The Hornets also have sizable gaps in slugging percentage (.408-.291) and on-base percentage (.365-.284) in going 3-0 in midweek games and 4-9 otherwise.
Scouting Minnesota (7-5)
As is the case with many schools from cold weather cities, Minnesota plays its first 20 games of the season away from home. The team has already played in Arizona, Florida, Louisiana, and South Carolina in its first four weeks of the season and will also play in Illinois before its home opener on March 26. The Gophers swept Northern Illinois and won their first four games of the season but have gone 3-5 since. The team went 32-22 overall last season and 13-8 in the Big 10 but lost its top three hitters and top two pitchers from last season. The Gophers have a 3.58 team ERA this season but are hitting just .238 with a .307 slugging percentage, having hit just two home runs all season. Senior Dan Olinger leads the team hitting .348 and Ben Meyer has been the top starter with a 2.74 ERA and a .214 opponent batting average. The teams are even 2-2 in the all-time series, all played in Sacramento.