SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The Sacramento State baseball team (13-11, 3-0 WAC) takes a five-game winning streak into its first road WAC series of the season this weekend at New Mexico State (10-14, 2-1 WAC). The games on Friday and Saturday will start at 5:05 p.m. Pacific time with Sunday's contest at 11:05 a.m. Friday's game will be video streamed live on ESPN3.
The First Pitch
During their current five-game winning streak the Hornets have outscored their opponent 39-7, averaging 7.8 runs per game, and are hitting .333 as a team with a 1.26 ERA...Sacramento State is 5-0 in midweek games this year, hitting .279 with a 1.76 ERA and scoring 5.2 runs per game with wins over Fresno State, Nevada, Pacific, and Air Force...Over the last five game Hornet senior center fielder David Del Grande is hitting .533 with two home runs, seven runs, six RBIs, three stolen bases, five walks, and three hit-by-pitches...Closer Sutter McLoughlin has not allowed a run in 23.0 innings dating back to last year, allowing just seven hits and three walks, and is two saves shy of the Hornet career record...New Mexico State took 2 of 3 at Texas-Pan American to open WAC play last weekend and is 7-6 at home this season, hitting .263 as a team with a 5.18 team ERA.
SAC - Brennan Leitao (Jr./RHP, 2-3, 3.55 ERA)
NMSU - Christopher Bradley (Sr./LHP, 1-3, 3.27 ERA)
SAC - Sam Long (Fr./LHP, 3-0, 2.17 ERA)
NMSU - Billy Conrad (Jr./RHP, 1-2, 5.40 ERA)
SAC - TBA
NMSU - Robert Kraft (Jr./LHP, 1-2, 3.98 ERA)
Scouting New Mexico State (10-14, 2-1 WAC)
New Mexico State and Sacramento State are the two longest-tenured WAC baseball schools and the Aggies were picked just ahead of the Hornets for second place in the preseason conference poll. The Aggies had a 6-2 start to the season and had their first 12 games at home before going on the road, where the team is just 3-8 on the year. New Mexico State lost 3-of-4 games at UC Davis two weeks ago but opened conference play winning 2-of-3 games at Texas-Pan American. Brothers Joseph and Kristoffer Koerper lead the Aggies offensively, with Joseph hitting .372 and Kristoffer hitting .330 with three home runs and 20 RBIs. Closer Trey Gonzales has four saves with a 1.69 ERA over 10.2 innings thrown on the year, but as a team New Mexico State has a 5.18 season ERA and allows 6.6 runs per game. The Hornets are 30-27 all-time against the Aggies and won 2-of-3 in Las Cruces last year.
Del Grande De Great
Hornet senior center fielder hit .636 last week, including a .750 average against Northern Colorado, and was subsequently named WAC Hitter of the Week. He went 7-for-11 on the week with six runs, three RBIs, two stolen bases, five walks and a home run. He made just four outs in 18 at-bats during the week and registered a .778 on-base percentage and .909 slugging percentage. The senior stayed hot at the plate with a 3-run homer against Air Force on Tuesday.
Feasting on Bear
By any statistical measure, Sacramento State dominated Northern Colorado in its three-game series sweep last weekend. The Hornets hit a robust .396 in the series with a .593 slugging percentage and a .491 on-base percentage while outscoring the Bears 28-4. The Hornet pitchers limited Northern Colorado to a .207 batting average in the series with a 1.44 ERA, striking out 15 and walking only four over 25 innings. Six different Hornets hit above .425 for the series and the squad totaled six doubles and four home runs. The Hornets kept up their strong hitting with a 7-1 win over Air Force on Tuesday and have outscored their opponents 39-7 during their five-game winning streak.
23 Innings and Counting
All-American sophomore closer Sutter McLoughlin has not allowed a run in his last 23.0 innings pitched dating back to last season. He was perfect the last seven innings he pitched in 2013 and has not allowed a run in 16.0 innings pitched this season, allowing just seven hits and three walks with 17 strikeouts over the stretch. He leads the WAC and is tied for fourth in the NCAA with seven saves this year while also totaling two wins. He needs just two more saves to equal the program career record of 26 set by Mike Frame.
The Other Closer
After his pinch-hit 2-run double in the eighth inning last Tuesday Hornet redshirt freshman Ryan Locke improved 4-for-4 with three RBIs this season as a pinch hitter. Senior Clay Cederquist is also 2-for-3 as a pinch hitter as Sacramento State is 8-for-16 (.500) overall with a hit by pitch in pinch hit at-bats this season, with each of the eight hits coming in the seventh inning or later.
First is Best
Sacramento State's success this season has been tied with its ability to score first, as the team is 12-2 when scoring the first run and 1-9 when the opponent scores first. It has also proved prudent to get a lead early as the team is 11-0 this season when leading after six innings and 0-10 when trailing (2-1 when tied).
Sacramento State is 5-0 in midweek games so far this season behind solid pitching and an uptick in hitting. Though it is a small sample size, the squad is hitting .279 in midweek games but just .257 in series games, and the team's era is 1.76 in the five midweek games. The Hornets also have sizeable gaps in slugging percentage (.382-.339) and on-base percentage (.365-.323) in going 5-0 in midweek games and 8-11 otherwise.
Sutter McLoughlin leads a potent three-man bullpen combination that has been mostly lights out late in games this season. In addition to the gaudy numbers put up be McLoughlin, junior Alex Palsha leads the team with 14 appearances and is 3-0 with a 1.50 ERA over 24.0 innings of relief, allowing just 16 hits this season. Additionally, freshman Sterling Humphry has allowed just one run in 10.1 innings, giving up just four hits with a .125 opponent batting average. The trio has allowed just five earned runs over 50.1 combined innings pitched, a 0.89 ERA.
In For The Long Haul
LHP Sam Long recorded his fourth quality start of the season last Saturday against Northern Colorado, throwing five shutout innings while allowing just two hits and one walk with two strikeouts. Long has allowed just 26 hits and seven earned runs over 39.0 innings pitched this year for a 2.17 ERA and is tied for the team lead with three wins. The team has won all five games Long has started this season, and over his last three starts he is 2-0 with a 1.06 ERA and a .232 opponent batting average over 17.0 innings pitched.