SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Sacramento State (17-11, 6-0 WAC) returns to Western Athletic Conference (WAC) play with a weekend series hosting Seattle U (11-12, 3-0 WAC) in a battle between the two remaining unbeaten teams in conference play. The teams will play at 3:00 p.m. Friday, 2:00 p.m. Saturday, and 12:00 p.m. Sunday at John Smith Field.
The First Pitch
During their current nine-game winning streak the Hornets are hitting .355 and are averaging 9.5 runs per game with a 2.04 ERA while holding opponents to just 2.1 runs per game...Sacramento State is averaging 11.2 runs per game through six WAC games, hitting .398 with 11 home runs with the pitchers totaling a .206 ERA and allowing 2.0 runs...In the 16 games the Hornets have played since March 5, David Del Grande is hitting .426 with three home runs and 16 RBIs. He is hitting .632 (12-for-19) with 10 RBIs in WAC games...Closer Sutter McLoughlin had not allowed a run in 24 innings dating back to last year before allowing one on Wednesday. He remains two saves shy of the Hornet career record...Seattle, which is 6-5 on the road this season, swept Texas-Pan American last weekend to open WAC play and was on a five-game winning streak before losing on Wednesday.
SAC - Brennan Leitao (Jr./RHP, 3-3, 3.48 ERA)
SU - Mac Acker (RSr./LHP, 3-2, 3.03 ERA)
SAC - Sam Long (Fr./LHP, 4-0, 1.75 ERA)
SU - Grant Gunning (RSo./RHP, 1-0, 1.23 ERA)
SAC - TBA
SU - Connor Moore (So./LHP, 1-3, 2.76 ERA)
Scouting Seattle U (11-12, 3-0 WAC)
Seattle opened WAC play last weekend with a home sweep of Texas-Pan American after its first WAC series scheduled to be play at Chicago State was postponed. The Redhawks had a five-game winning stopped by a 6-2 home loss to Portland on Wednesday. Seattle's team ERA is 4.07 but its three projected starters for the weekend all have ERA's of 3.03 or lower. The squad has two batters hitting better than .300, led by sophomore outfielder Landon Cray (.367) and catcher Brian Olson (.360, 21 RBIs). Seattle has hit just seven home runs this season and has allowed just six though opponents have hit .290 against SU pitching. Sacramento State won 2-of-3 games at Seattle last season, the first year the school was a member of the WAC, and is 8-2 all-time against the Redhawks, who were picked seventh in the WAC Coaches Poll.
Sacramento State's current nine-game winning streak is the longest the program has had since a 16-game winning streak during the 1992 season. Over the last nine games the Hornets are hitting .355 with 13 home runs and are averaging 9.5 runs per game. The Hornet pitchers have combined for a 2.04 ERA while holding opponents to a .203 batting average and just 2.1 runs per game, while defensively the team has a .978 fielding percentage with just seven errors. Five Hornets are hitting better than .400 during the streak, led by a .500 average (15-for-30) from senior David Del Grande. A win on Friday would equal the second longest winning streak in program history as the 1991 team also had a 10-game streak.
Enveloped in the nine game winning streak is a 6-0 start to WAC play for the Hornets. Five of the six wins have been by seven runs or more, as Sacramento State was dominant in sweeps over Northern Colorado and New Mexico State. So far in WAC play the Hornets are hitting an absurd .398 with 11 home runs and 65 RBIs, averaging 11.2 runs per game with a .642 slugging percentage and .490 on-base percentage. Three of the six games have been stopped after seven innings due to the 10-run mercy rule, so the team has put up such gaudy numbers despite playing six fewer innings than they should have played. Hornet pitchers have a 2.06 ERA in conference play with a .224 opponent batting average. Freshman Sam Long has allowed just six hits and no runs through 12.0 innings and the team has only allowed 12 total runs in the six games. Every Hornet starting position player is hitting above .300 in conference games with three players hitting better than .525, led by a .632 average (12-for-19) from Del Grande.
Del Grande De Great
Hornet senior center fielder David Del Grande has been on an absolute tear over the last month of play. In The 16 games the Hornets have played since March 5, Del Grande is hitting .426 with three home runs and 16 RBIs. He has a .685 slugging percentage and .551 on-base percentage with four stolen bases while also playing sparkling, error-free defense in center field. He was named WAC Hitter of the Week on March 24 after a .636 average over four games, and in six WAC contests he is hitting .632 (12-for-19) with 10 RBIs and 12 runs scored.
They've Got The Power
After a five-homer game on Sunday and another round tripper by senior Will Soto on Wednesday the Hornets have hit 13 home runs over the last eight games after hitting just four homers through the first 20 games of the year. Junior Rhys Hoskins leads the WAC with five home runs on the year while Brandon Hunley has hit four and David Del Grande has hit three. Soto and Hunley each hit grand slams last Sunday at New Mexico State.
24 Scoreless Innings
All-American sophomore closer Sutter McLoughlin had not allowed a run in his last 24 innings pitched dating back to last season until allowing a run to score in the ninth inning on Wednesday. He was perfect the last seven innings he pitched in 2013 and hadn't allowed a run in his first 17 innings pitched this season, allowing just eight hits and three walks with 18 strikeouts over the stretch. He leads the WAC and is tied for 11th 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.
Junior Rhys Hoskins has hit cleanup in 17 games this season and leads the WAC with five home runs and a .624 slugging percentage and is second in the conference with 22 RBIs. Hoskins had a monster weekend at New Mexico State, hitting 8-for-12 with three home runs and12 RBIs. Overall last week Hoskins hit .563 (9-for-16) with six runs, 12 RBIs, three doubles, three home runs and four walks and was subsequently named the WAC Hitter of the Week.
The Earlier The Better
Sacramento State's success this season has been tied to its ability to build an early lead, as the team is 15-0 this season when leading after six innings and 0-10 when trailing (2-1 when tied). The Hornets are also16-2 when scoring the first run of the game and 1-9 when the opponent scores first.
In For The Long Haul
LHP Sam Long recorded his fifth quality start of the season last Saturday against New Mexico State and threw his first shutout, allowing just four hits over seven scoreless innings. Long has allowed just 30 hits and seven earned runs over 36.0 innings pitched this year for a 1.75 ERA and leads the team with four wins. The team has won all six games Long has started this season, and in two WAC games he has not allowed a run with just six hits and one walk over 12.0 innings.