SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Sacramento State (21-14, 10-2 WAC) concludes a season-long five game road stretch against Causeway rival UC Davis (16-16, 3-6 Big West) at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday in Davis. The game will be streamed live on HornetSports.com/Radio.
The game, which is the first of two meetings between the teams this season, is part of the season long ScholarShare Causeway Cup. UC Davis has already clinched a win in the all-sport competition between the two rivals.
The First Pitch
Sacramento State is averaging 8.0 runs per game in its 10-2 start in WAC play, hitting .332 with 14 homers, and its pitchers have a 2.61 ERA allowing 2.8 runs per game...The Hornets are 6-1 in midweek games this season, hitting .264 with three home runs and 34 RBIs with a 2.91 ERA while averaging 6.0 and allowing just 3.6 runs per game..Sacramento State's 12-game winning streak, which came to an end last Tuesday at Pacific, was the second longest in program history, just shy of a 16-game streak in 1992...Five of the Hornets last 10 games have not gone nine innings, with the team playing three extra-inning games, including 14 and 15-inning contests, and recording two 7-inning wins...Sacramento State has won seven straight games against UC Davis and eight of the last nine contests, including three straight wins in Davis. The Aggies are 16-16 this season.
SAC - Jared Paderez (Fr./RHP 1-2, 3.25 ERA)
UCD – TBA
Scouting UC Davis (16-16, 3-6 Big West)
The Hornets have dominated their recent games against UC Davis, having won eight of the last nine meetings and seven straight contests since 2011. UC Davis evened its 2014 season record at 16-16 after taking of 2-of-3 games over the weekend against Long Beach State. The Aggies opened the season losing 3-of-4 against Seattle U, a team the Hornets swept, but later won 3-of-4 games against New Mexico State. UC Davis ranks last in the Big West with a 4.36 season earned run average and is last in the league with just 86 walks drawn on the season. Senior Adam Young leads the team and is third in the Big West with a .376 batting average and freshman closer Zach Stone has a 2.05 ERA and is tied with Sutter McLoughlin for 21st in the NCAA with eight saves.
Despite a pair of WAC losses over the weekend, Sacramento State still leads the league with a 10-2 conference mark. Five of the 10 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 .332 with 14 home runs and 91 RBIs, averaging 8.0 runs per game with a .490 slugging percentage and .411 on-base percentage. Six Hornet starters are hitting .300 or better in conference games with three players hitting better than .400, led by a .489 average with 24 RBIs, a .979 slugging percentage, and a .559 on-base percentage from Rhys Hoskins. Hornet pitchers have a 2.61 ERA in conference play with a .231 opponent batting average. Friday and Saturday starters Brennan Leitao and Sam Long are a combined 5-0 in the WAC as the staff as a whole is allowing just 2.8 runs per game in conference play.
Not Going Nine
The standard length for a baseball game is nine innings, but over the last two and a half weeks that has not been the case for the Hornets. Over its last 10 games Sacramento State has only played five nine-inning contests, playing three extra-inning games and winning two games after seven innings via the 10-run mercy rule. Eight Sacramento State games this season have not finished in nine innings, while the team is 3-2 in extra innings and has three seven-inning wins.
Junior Alex Palsha leads the WAC and is tied for eighth in the NCAA with 22 appearances and ranks 12th in the nation with just 4.71 hits allowed per nine innings. He has a WAC-best 1.49 ERA this season, pitching in a variety of mid to late-game situations and being mostly unhittable. He is 4-0 and has two saves over 36.1 innings of relief, allowing just 19 hits and six earned runs this season with a .158 opponent batting average. 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. In WAC play he has allowed just two earned runs and five hits in 13.1 innings, holding hitters to a .111 average.
Senior David Del Grande was hit by a pitch twice last weekend to equal and then break the program record for career hit by pitches. He was plunked for the 39th time in his career in the ninth inning on Saturday and earned his record-breaking 40th hit by pitch in the ninth inning on Sunday, surpassing the previous record held by David Flores. He was hit just four times as a freshman but 16 times as a sophomore and had 13 more in his junior season.
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 last 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.
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 April 5, beating Seattle U 4-3 in 15 innings, then played a 14-inning contest just three days later at Pacific. The Seattle U 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 the following Tuesday, with the home team winning on a walk-off homer leading off the 14th.
Junior Rhys Hoskins has hit cleanup in 24 games this season and leads the WAC in home runs (6), RBIs (30), and slugging percentage (.619) and is second in the conference in batting average (.363) and doubles (11). He has reached base in 24 consecutive games, has 10 multi-hit and nine multi-RBI games this season, and is hitting .489 with five home runs and 24 RBIs in the WAC, driving in 2.0 runs per game in conference play.
Top of the Order
Sophomore Nathan Lukes is currently riding a career-best 15-game hitting streak and has a hit in 31 of 35 games played this season. He has started in right field in every game this season, primarily hitting leadoff, and is hitting .329 with a .452 on-base percentage. He leads the team in hits (48), runs (33), and walks (21) and also has 14 RBIs, six doubles, and six stolen bases.
Delivering in the Clutch
As a team Sacramento State is hitting .302 this season with runners in scoring position. David Del Grande, the team's no. 3 hitter, is 18-for-40 (.450) with men in scoring position, cleanup hitter Rhys Hoskins is hitting .359, and senior Will Soto (.318) and freshman Brandon Hunley (.327) have also been clutch in those spots. Conversely, Hornet opponents are hitting just .230 off of Sacramento State pitching with runners in scoring position this season.
They've Got The Power
The Hornets have hit 16 home runs over the last 15 games after hitting just four homers through the first 20 games of the year. Junior Rhys Hoskins leads the WAC with six home runs while freshman Brandon Hunley has five and senior David Del Grande has hit four. 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.