SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Having swept its first three WAC series of the season, Sacramento State (20-12, 9-0 WAC) plays its second road series in conference play with a three game set in Phoenix against new WAC and NCAA Div. - I program Grand Canyon (16-14, 6-3 WAC). Game times are 6:30 p.m. Friday, 1:30 p.m. Saturday, and 12:30 p.m. on Sunday.
All three games will be broadcast live on HornetSports.com/Radio while live stats will be available on the baseball schedule page. Andrew Tomsky and a pair of special-guest former Hornet announcers will be on the play-by-play call.
The First Pitch
Sacramento State's 12-game winning streak, which came to an end on Tuesday at Pacific, was the second longest in program history, just shy of a 16-game streak in 1992...During the winning streak the Hornets hit .327 with 14 home runs and averaged 8.5 runs per game with a 1.83 ERA while holding opponents to just 2.2 runs per game...Sacramento State is averaging 9.2 runs per game through nine WAC games, hitting .346 with 12 homers, and the pitchers have a 1.78 ERA and allowing 2.2 runs/game...The Hornets have played two of the three longest games in program history over their last three contests, playing a record 15 innings vs. Seattle U and playing 14 innings at Pacific...Grand Canyon ranks second in the WAC with a 3.28 ERA and is third in the conference hitting .267 as the squad is 9-2 at home this season and 6-3 thus far in WAC play.
Friday: SAC - Brennan Leitao (Jr./RHP, 4-3, 3.18 ERA) | GCU - Jorge Perez (Jr./RHP, 1-5, 3.17 ERA)
Saturday: SAC - Sam Long (Fr./LHP, 4-0, 1.98 ERA) | GCU - Andrew Naderer (So./LHP, 4-3, 4.22 ERA)
Sunday: SAC - Justin Dillon (RFr./RHP, 1-0, 3.72 ERA) | GCU - Coley Bruns (Jr./RHP, 5-0, 3.02 ERA)
Scouting Grand Canyon (16-14, 6-3 WAC)
Playing its first season as a member of NCAA Div.-I, Grand Canyon enters the weekend tied for second in the WAC with a 6-3 conference record. The Antelopes swept Chicago State at home and won 2-of-3 at Bakersfield and 1-of-3 at Texas-Pan American. Grand Canyon is 9-2 at home this season and also has a road win at Arizona while the team ranks second in the WAC, behind the Hornets, with a 3.28 season ERA and is third in the conference hitting .267. Outfielder David Walker is tied with Hornet sophomore Nathan Lukes for the WAC lead with 42 hits on the season while hitting .368 to lead the league. He is also second, behind Lukes, with 30 runs scored, and while the team has only hit five home runs this season, its pitchers have also allowed just five homers on the year. Sacramento State is 7-2 all time against Grand Canyon but the programs have not met since 1996, when both teams were members of the WAC as GCU was NCAA Div.-I only in baseball at that time.
Sacramento State's 12-game winning streak, which was the second longest in program history, came to a close with a 9-8 loss in 14 innings at Pacific on Tuesday. The streak was just four wins shy of the program record 16-game winning streak record during the 1992 season, and it was the longest active streak in NCAA Div. I after it reached 12 games. During the streak the Hornets hit .327 with 14 home runs and averaged 8.5 runs per game. The Hornet pitchers combined for a 1.83 ERA while holding opponents to a .204 batting average and just 2.2 runs per game, while defensively the team had a .978 fielding percentage. Four Hornets hit better than .350 during the streak, led by a .458 average (22-for-48) and 22 RBIs from junior Rhys Hoskins.
Enveloped in the 12-game winning streak is a 9-0 start to WAC play for the Hornets. Five of the nine wins have been by seven runs or more, including three games that ended after the seventh inning due to the 10-run mercy rule. So far in WAC play the Hornets are hitting a robust .346 with 12 home runs and 78 RBIs, averaging 9.2 runs per game with a .525 slugging percentage and .430 on-base percentage. Seven Hornet starters are hitting .300 or better in conference games with three players hitting better than .420, led by an incredible .528 average (19-for-36) with 20 RBIs, a 1.056 slugging percentage, and a .578 on-base percentage from Rhys Hoskins. Hornet pitchers have a 1.78 ERA in conference play with a .217 opponent batting average. Freshman Sam Long has allowed just 10 hits and two runs through 17.0 innings and the team has only allowed 19 total runs in the nine games.
Lets Play 15 (and then 14)
In a span of three games Sacramento State played two of its three longest games in program history, combining for 29 innings in those game and 38 total innings over a three-game stretch. Sacramento State played its longest game in program history on Saturday, beating Seattle U 4-3 in 15 innings, then played a 14-inning contest just three days later at Pacific. The Saturday game was one inning longer than the previous team record long game of 14 innings played against UT- San Antonio last season at the WAC Tournament. Neither team scored a run over nine full innings of play until a walk-off RBI single from Brandon Hunley, and the Hornets went 10 innings between scoring runs. Offense was more prevalent in Pacific's 9-8 win in 14 innings on Tuesday, with the home team winning on a walk-off homer leading off the 14th.
They've Got The Power
The Hornets have hit 14 home runs over the last 12 games after hitting just four homers through the first 20 games of the year. Junior Rhys Hoskins and freshman Brandon Hunley are tied for the WAC lead with five home runs apiece and David Del Grande has hit three. Hunley and senior Will Soto each hit grand slams on March 30 at New Mexico State, a game in which the Hornets totaled five home runs.
Junior Rhys Hoskins has hit cleanup in 21 games this season and leads the WAC in slugging percentage (.608), is tied for the WAC lead in home runs (5) and doubles (20), and is second in the conference in batting average (.363) and RBIs (26). Hoskins had a monster weekend at New Mexico State, hitting 8-for-12 with three home runs and12 RBIs. Overall that 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. He kept it going last week hitting .389 with four RBIs.
Junior Alex Palsha leads the WAC with 20 appearances this season, pitching in a variety of mid to late-game situations and being mostly unhittable. He is 3-0 with a WAC-best 1.62 ERA over 33.1 innings of relief, allowing just 19 hits and six earned runs this season. The team has not played more than two consecutive contests without Palsha taking the mound and he has thrown as many as three innings on two occasions.
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 17-1 on the year when leading after six innings and 0-10 when trailing (3-1 when tied). The Hornets are also 17-3 when scoring the first run of the game but 3-9 when the opponent scores first.
Delivering in the Clutch
As a team Sacramento State is hitting .309 this season with runners in scoring position. David Del Grande, the team's no. 3 hitter, is 18-for-37 (.486) with men in scoring position, cleanup hitter Rhys Hoskins is hitting .343, and senior Will Soto (.342) and freshman Brandon Hunley (.326) have also been clutch in those spots. Conversely, Hornet opponents are hitting just .227 off of Sacramento State pitching with runners in scoring position this season.
In For The Long Haul
LHP Sam Long recorded his sixth quality start of the season last Saturday against Seattle U, allowing just two runs over five innings. Long has allowed just 34 hits and nine earned runs over 41.0 innings pitched this year for a 1.98 ERA, the third best ERA in the WAC among qualified pitchers, and leads the team with four wins. The team has won all seven games Long has started this season, and in three WAC games he has allowed just two runs on 10 hits over 17.0 innings.