SACRAMENTO, Calif. - The top two teams in the WAC standings through two weeks of play will meet for a three-game series running Thursday through Saturday as defending WAC Champion Sacramento State (17-10, 6-0 WAC) plays its first conference road games of the year at Seattle U (12-14, 5-1 WAC).
With his save at Pacific on Tuesday Junior Sutter McLoughlin now holds the WAC record on his own with 30 career saves, breaking a tie with former Louisiana Tech closer Caleb Dudley...Sacramento State is 6-0 in WAC play after two home series sweeps. Against New Mexico State the three Hornet starters did not allow a single earned run over 21.0 innings pitched...Sam Long took a no-hitter into the eighth inning last Saturday and ranks third in the NCAA with a 0.67 WHIP. The team ranks fourth with a 1.05 WHIP and ninth with four shutouts...The Hornets played 19 of their first 26 games this season at home but play 21 of their last 30 contests on the road, including an eight-game road swing that started at Pacific on Tuesday...Seattle U ranks second in the WAC, behind the Hornets, in ERA (3.54) and opposing batting average (.253) and is 5-1 in the WAC after a sweep at Texas-Pan American last weekend.
SAC - Ty Nichols (Sr./RHP, 1-0, 2.22 ERA)
SU - Will Dennis (Jr./LHP, 4-2, 2.49 ERA)
SAC - Brennan Leitao (Sr./RHP, 3-1, 1.64 ERA)
SU - Skyler Genger (Jr./RHP, 3-4, 3.57 ERA)
SAC - Sam Long (So./LHP, 5-0, 1.73 ERA)
SU - TBA
All three games of the series will stream live online on HornetSports.com/Radio with Anthony Rifenburg providing the play-by-play call. Seattle U will also provide live stats and a live video stream available on goseattleu.com and all game day media links can be found above and on hornetsports.com on the baseball schedule page. For more content and game updates follow @hornetsports and @SacStBaseball on twitter and like Sacramento State Athletics and Sacramento State Hornet Baseball Fans on facebook.
Seattle U Redhawks | All: 12-14 | WAC: 5-1 | Home: 9-12
Seattle U swept Texas-Pan American in Edinburg last weekend after opening conference play taking two of three games at home over Utah Valley. The matchup with the Hornets pits the top two pitching teams in the WAC, as the Redhawks trail only Sacramento State with a 3.54 ERA and .253 opposing batting average. Offensively Seattle U leads the WAC in on-base percentage (.356) and is third in runs despite hitting just three homers with Sheldon Stober leading the way hitting .340 with 21 RBIs. The Hornets are 11-2 all-time vs. the Redhawks including a home sweep last season.
The Supreme Closer
With a save on Tuesday, his third save in the last four games, Sacramento State junior closer Sutter McLoughlin now holds the WAC record on his own with 30 career saves, breaking a tie with former Louisiana Tech closer Caleb Dudley. After missing the first month of the season due to shoulder trouble, McLoughlin has been as dominant as ever in his four save appearances this year, not allowing a single base runner and needing just 33 total pitches for four saves (3.2 IP). He was a was a preseason all-WAC selection this year after earning all-WAC second team honors last year and being named to the NCBWA Midseason Stopper of the Year watch list last April. He had a program-record 17 saves as a freshman and nine more last season, and for his career McLoughlin has a 1.95 ERA with a 65-20 strikeout to walk ratio in 87.2 innings pitched.
The Hornets earned a second consecutive home WAC sweep winning all three games last weekend vs. New Mexico State. The first two games were both one-run decisions while the finale on Sunday was a 10-0 mercy-rule win in eight innings for the Hornets. In the series the Hornets hit .316 while the Aggies were held to a .140 batting average. Sacramento State's pitching staff recorded two shutouts with a cumulative ERA of just 1.38, allowing only 13 hits and four earned runs in 26.0 innings with a 21-5 strikeout to walk ratio. Through six WAC games Sacramento State is hitting .301 with 20 extra base hits, including five home runs, while the pitching staff has a 1.87 era and its opposition is hitting .192.
Hitting the Road
Sacramento State played 19 of its first 26 games this season at home but now plays 21 of its 30 remaining contests on the road, including an eight-game road swing that started at Pacific on Tuesday. Since three of the four scheduled games at Texas Tech were snowed out the Hornets have played just one full road series this year, splitting four games at Cal Poly. In seven road games so far this season the Hornets are 2-5 and have hit .225 as a team but have pitched well and faced very stiff competition at Texas Tech, Cal Poly, Fresno State, and Nevada.
Sacramento State's three weekend starters vs. New Mexico State - Brennan Leitao, Sam Long, and Justin Dillon - did not allow a single earned run. Long and Dillon each threw eight scoreless innings while the Aggies scored three times against Leitao but they were all unearned runs. The trio allowed only eight hits in 21.0 innings pitched with 15 strikeouts and just two walks. They combined to allow just one extra-base hit and had a cumulative opposing batting average of .108.
Sophomore Sam Long improved to 5-0 this year and had his third scoreless start of the season on Saturday. That start was special, however, is he did not allow a hit over the first 7.1 innings of the contest and finished with just one hit allowed over eight innings. He did not allow a base runner through the first six innings (though the Aggies got three men aboard on Hornet errors) and had just one hit batter mar his perfect line into the eighth. He did not issue a walk in the game and equaled his career high with seven strikeouts. On Monday he was named WAC Pitcher of the Week and he now ranks third in the nation with a 0.67 WHIP and also leads the WAC in opposing batting average (.164) and is second in ERA (1.73).
WHIP it Good
Sacramento State ranks fourth in the NCAA with a 1.05 season WHIP (walks and hits per innings pitched). No other WAC team has a WHIP better then 1.25 and the Hornets also lead the WAC and are 9th in the nation with 2.04 walks allowed per nine innings and are 13th with 7.32 hits allowed per nine innings.
He's Got CLASS
Sacramento State senior pitcher Brennan Leitao is among a group of thirty NCAA Div. I baseball student-athletes selected last week as candidates for the 2015 Senior CLASS Award® in collegiate baseball. An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School®, the Senior CLASS Award focuses on the total student-athlete and those that have notable achievements in four areas of excellence: community, classroom, character and competition. Leitao has excelled in each category and is the only WAC student-athlete and one of just four California players named as a candidate. The field will be cut to 10 finalists midway through the regular season for a nationwide vote from media, coaches, and fans with the award winner to be announced at the College World Series in June.
Nate the Great
Junior Nathan Lukes has reached base in all 27 games this year and ranks second in the WAC in on-base percentage with a .408 batting average. He is 29th in Div. I with a .500 on-base percentage and 26th in batting average with 13 multi-hit games and a team-high three home runs. Last year he had a .347 batting average to go with a .430 on-base percentage and led the WAC and ranked 18th in the NCAA with 90 hits and also led the league with 54 runs scored. He was an all-WAC first team selection and tied the Sacramento State single-season record with 28 multi-hit games in 2014.
Double Back-to-Back Shutouts
The consecutive shutouts over New Mexico State last Saturday and Sunday marked the second time this season that the Hornets have recorded back-to-back shutouts. Returning to the site of its first Div. I NCAA Regional appearance last year, Sacramento State's two wins at Cal Poly were two straight 2-0 shutouts. Senior Brennan Leitao threw eight shutout innings on Friday and Sam Long had a complete game five-hit shutout in game three of the series. Against the Aggies, Long and Sutter McLoughlin combined on a one-hit shutout and in the finale Justin Dillon threw an eight-inning complete game shutout. Over the two shutouts of New Mexico State the three Hornet pitchers held the visitors to a .070 batting average with 12 strikeouts and one walk.
Sophomore catcher Gunner Pollman has moved into a starting role this year and is living up to his name. He leads the WAC with 20 runners caught stealing, nine more than any other conference catcher has totaled, allowing just 16 steals in 36 attempts. He ranks fourth in the NCAA with a .556 caught stealing percentage and has been named to the watch list for the Johnny Bench Award, an honor presented annually to the top catcher in NCAA Div. I baseball.
Hornet pitchers have allowed just seven walks while totaling 32 strikeouts in six WAC games. The staff has permitted one walk or fewer in five of six WAC games and is now ninth in NCAA Div. I averaging just 2.14 walks per nine innings for the season. The pitchers have permitted one walk or fewer in 12 of the last 16 games, including six walk-free games. Individually, sophomore Sam Long ranks 15th nationally with 0.86 walks allowed per nine innings.
The Hornet power bats came alive against Texas-Pan American with four homers and 12 total extra-base hits good for a .510 slugging percentage. The team had hit just one home run since February 7 before the four long balls against the Broncs. Nathan Lukes homered against New Mexico State and the team also had six doubles and a triple against the Aggies slugging .429. Over the two WAC series sweeps the Hornets have totaled 20 extra-base hits, including five homers, and have allowed just seven.
Senior shortstop Scotty Burcham is the only Hornet that has started every game this season at the same position and leads by example both in the field and at the plate. He has 79 assists, 45 putouts, and just one error this season defensively for a .992 fielding percentage, playing every pitch of the season. At the plate he has primarily hit second in the batting order and is hitting .311 while leading the WAC with four triples and is second in the league and leads the team with 25 runs scored.
Picked to Repeat
Sacramento State was a near unanimous pick to repeat as WAC Champion in the preseason conference coaches' poll. The Hornets received eight first place votes and 80 total points to be picked ahead of Grand Canyon, which was the regular season runner-up last year. Additionally, senior pitcher Brennan Leitao was named the Preseason WAC Pitcher of the Year and was a Preseason All-WAC selection along with senior outfielder Nathan Lukes, senior shortstop Scotty Burcham, junior closer Sutter McLoughlin, and sophomore starter Sam Long. No other WAC team had more than three preseason selections. Sacramento State won the 2014 WAC regular season title with a 21-6 record and did so pretty easily, as 12 of the team's 21 WAC wins were by five runs or more, including four games that ended after the seventh inning due to the 10-run mercy rule.
Working the Field
Sacramento State is second in the WAC and ranks 31st in the NCAA with a .973 fielding percentage. The Hornets have ranked among the top fielding teams throughout the tenure of head coach Reggie Christiansen and have committed just 28 errors in 27 games this season, including 12 error-free games.
Sophomore Sam Long is 5-0 to tie for 14th in all of NCAA Div. I with five victories. Long, who should be a freshman this season but graduated high school early, was named the WAC Freshman of the Year last season after he tied for fourth in the WAC with eight wins and ranked fifth with a .238 opposing batting average and the team went 12-3 in the 15 games he has started. The Hornets are 6-0 in his starts this year and is 6-0 all-time in the WAC and 13-2 overall in his young career.
The Earlier The Better
Sacramento State is 16-1 when leading after seven innings this season and 0-8 when trailing (1-1 when tied). The Hornets are also 13-3 when scoring first this season and 4-7 when the opponent scores first. In 2014 the team was 31-2 when leading after six innings and 3-20 when trailing (6-2 when tied).
Senior right-handed pitcher Brennan Leitao was named to the 2015 Louisville Slugger Preseason All-American Third Team selected by Collegiate Baseball Newspaper. Sacramento State's all-time leader in career wins and innings pitched, Leitao is a two-time all-WAC first team selection and was also an all-WAC Tournament honoree last season. This season he leads the WAC with a 1.64 season ERA with a .219 opposing batting average and one shutout. He is now fourth in program history with 194 career strikeouts and is 8th with a 2.97 career ERA.