SACRAMENTO, Calif. - With nine games still remaining on a program record 13-game homestand Sacramento State (10-8) hosts local rival San Francisco (7-15) on 3 p.m. Tuesday at John Smith Field. The game will be the last for the Hornets before they open WAC play on Thursday.
- Sacramento State is in the midst of playing 13 straight home games over a 19-day stretch. Weather permitting, the homestand will be the longest in the Div. I era of the program by three games.
- The Hornets earned a 3-2 win vs. Cal Poly on Sunday behind pitching, defense, and timely hitting. Max Karnos pitched 7 strong innings and Andrew McWilliam had the game winning RBI in the 8th.
- Freshman DH Matt Smith returned after missing six games and hit .500 in the Cal Poly series. He has hit in all 12 games he has played this year and has an RBI in nine, leading the team with 12 RBIs.
- Sacramento State is undefeated this season when leading after the fourth inning or later. The Hornet bullpen is anchored by senior Tyler Beardsley, who is 2-0 and leads the WAC with four saves.
- San Francisco has not played a home game yet this season as it's field is renovated. The Dons have a win over #4 Oregon State and own a 31-28 advantage over the Hornets in the all-time series.
SAC - Matt Gorgolinski (So./RHP, 1-0, 4.72 ERA)
USF - Thomas Ponticelli (Fr./RHP, 1-2, 6.75 ERA)
All Sacramento State home games stream live online at HornetSports.com/Radio with Anthony Rifenburg and Andrew Pasquini providing the play-by-play call. Live stats for each game are also available on hornetsports.com and all game day media links can be found 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.
San Francisco Dons | Overall: 7-15 | Road: 5-11
With its home ballpark undergoing a massive renovation, San Francisco does not play its first home game of the 2016 season until April 13. The squad has played 16 road games and six neutral site games so far this year. USF has defeated No. 4 Oregon State and opened West Coast Conference play winning 2-of-3 games at Santa Clara but was swept by Cal Poly. The Dons are hitting .265 as a team but have a 4.92 team era and a .309 opposing batting average. Four starters are hitting better than .300 with Matt Sinatro at .357 with 10 stolen bases. USF holds a slim 31-28 advantage in the all-time series against the Hornets.
Winning the Hornet Way
Sacramento State's 3-2 victory over Cal Poly on Sunday was a hallmark Sacramento State win with strong pitching, good defense, and timely hitting. Starter Max Karnos allowed just one run on three singles over seven innings and the defense was error free with multiple Web Gem caliber catches by center fielder Bronson Grubbs. The offense took an early 2-0 lead, and though Cal Poly came back to tie the game in the eighth inning the Hornets came through in bottom of the eighth with a leadoff single from freshman Matt Smith and an eventual go-ahead RBI single from sophomore Andrew McWilliam. All five hits the Hornets allowed in the game were singles and the team capitalized on two Mustang errors, scoring an unearned run in the first.
Big Bat Back
Freshman designated hitter Matt Smith returned to action over the weekend and continued to rake, hitting .500 (6-for-12) with an RBI and two runs scored over the three games. He had missed the team's six previous games after getting hit by a pitch March 6. He had a hit in every game this year prior to the injury and he extended his season-long hitting streak to 12 games against Cal Poly. He also has an RBI in nine of the 12 contests he played in and leads the team with 12 RBIs on the season despite missing a week and a half of action. A local product from Placerville, Smith is hitting .432 with a .523 slugging percentage and .460 on-base percentage on the year and is 2-for-2 on stolen base attempts.
Sacramento State is in the midst of playing 13 games at home over a stretch of 19 days. Weather permitting, the homestand will be the longest in the Div. I era of the program, eclipsing a 10-game home stretch in 2005. The homestand includes weekend series against Cal Poly, North Dakota, and Northern Colorado along with two games against New Mexico, one against San Francisco, and one against William Jessup, with all 13 to be played at John Smith Field. The homestand was originally going to be 12 games over 16 days before the William Jessup game was added to the schedule.
Last Tuesday Hornet pitchers Matt Gorgolinski and Grant Kukuk combined to allow just one hit in a 6-1 victory over William Jessup. The only hit the Warriors tallied was a bunt single in the sixth inning, as strong pitching and two superb diving catches in right field by sophomore Andrew McWilliam prevented any further hits. Gorgolinski pitched the first 5.1 innings and Kukuk allowed just one base runner on a hit by pitch over the final 3.2 of the game. Sacramento State pitchers had a pair of one-hitters last year, including a one-hit shutout of Northern Colorado in the WAC Tournament. The program has never thrown a no-hitter during the Div.-I era (1990-pres.).
Finished after Four
Sacramento State is undefeated this season when leading after the fourth inning. The team is 5-0 when leading after four innings and even better when leading in the late innings at 7-0 after the seventh and 8-0 when leading after the eighth. The team also has five wins when trailing or tied after four innings, but early runs are key. The Hornets are 5-0 this year when scoring in the first inning and 7-3 when scoring before the opposition.
Attempting to replace Sutter McLoughlin, the all-time WAC saves leader, figured to be a difficult task for the Hornets this season but senior Tyler Beardsley has taken the job and run with it. Assuming the closer role this year but pitching multiple innings in four appearances, Beardsley has allowed just one run in 13.2 innings pitched. He earned wins against LSU and Cal Poly and has a WAC-high four saves, allowing only six hits and holding the opposition to a .150 batting average. He did not allow a run through his first eight appearances this year.
Happy to be Home
Due to weather and field conditions just one of Sacramento State's first 14 games of the season was played on their primary home ballpark, John Smith Field. The Hornets have had winning home records in four straight seasons and are 47-21 at home over the last three years. The team has had at least 18 home wins in four straight years and plays every remaining game of March on its home field.
Grubbs Making Grabs
Sophomore center fielder Bronson Grubbs has been superb both in the field and at the plate this year. Among his 57 putouts this year are dozens of sensational catches, with the best being a leaping grab into the wall to rob Cal Poly's leadoff hitter of extra bases to begin Sunday's game. He also has an outfield assist and no errors after committing just one error all season last year. His bat has shined as well as he is hitting a team-high .419 with a .438 on-base percentage over the last 10 games and is at .298 on the year.
Tough Time in the Desert
Arizona's sweep of Sacramento State was a rarity for the Hornets, who had not been swept in a non-conference series of at least three games since going 0-3 at another Pac-12 team, UCLA, in 2012. The Hornets had chances to win on Friday and Sunday and, for the most part, played better than the stats would suggest. Sacramento State's 8-3 record going into the series was its best start to a season in 23 years, and its current 10-8 record is still a better mark through 18 games than in its WAC championship seasons in 2012 and 2014.
Saturday starter Justin Dillon returned to the rotation at Arizona after having thrown just five pitches all season. In his first start of the year at Auburn the junior was lifted after throwing just five pitches due to a lower body injury. He came back against the Wildcats, pitching 3.1 innings and allowing just three hits but walking four. Dillon had four strikeouts against Arizona and for the season sports a .150 opposing batting average. Unfortunately, he had to leave his start against Cal Poly after two innings after reaggravating his previous injury.
First Home Series...Sort Of
Rain wreaked havoc on Sacramento State's first home series of the year, as the team ended up playing just one game at John Smith Field. The series against South Dakota State was supposed to be four games with a doubleheader on Saturday. Efforts were made to play a doubleheader Friday and one Sunday, as well as a game at Raley Field on Monday, but just the early game on Friday got played in Sacramento. On Sunday and Tuesday the teams ended up playing 50 miles south of campus in Stockton, playing Sunday at Delta College and Tuesday at Pacific. The series ended up spanning five days and the three games took place in three different stadiums.
The Hornets have wins over two power five teams this year, taking 2-of-3 games at Auburn and beating LSU. For the second consecutive year the team opened its season winning a series against a power school after taking 3-of-4 games against Utah to open 2015. In 2013 the Hornets opened their season at Texas and picked up a Saturday win, then in 2014 Sacramento State won at No. 21 Texas A&M. The Hornets also had wins over power conference schools Arizona State, Oregon State, and Minnesota over the last two seasons.
The Hornets are third in the WAC with 24 steals this year. The team was 9-for-9 at Auburn, helping creating 18 runs despite hitting only .239 for the series. 11 different Hornets have steals this year but Arizona and Cal Poly combined to allow just two Hornets steals in four attempts in the last two weekends. Sacramento State finished second in the WAC with 79 stolen bases last season.