SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Winners of five straight games, Sacramento State (14-8) continues its record long 13 game homestand with contests at 3 p.m. Monday and 2 p.m. Tuesday vs. New Mexico (15-8).
- 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.
- With five straight 1-run victories the Hornets are now 8-0 this year in 1-run games. Of the team's eight home wins this year are five 1-run victories and the Hornets are also 3-0 in extra-inning games.
- Sacramento State opened WAC play with a home series sweep for the third consecutive year. Hornet pitching posted a 1.24 team ERA in the North Dakota series with a .224 opposing batting average.
- Freshman DH Matt Smith has a hit in each of the first 16 collegiate games he has played. He also has an RBI in 10 games, leading the team with 13 RBIs and hitting .421 for the year with a .485 OBP.
- New Mexico ranks in the top-20 nationally in walks, on-base percentage, double plays turned, batting average, and slugging percentage. The Lobos are receiving votes in two national polls.
NM: Colton Thomson (Sr./LHP, 2-1, 3.97 ERA)
SAC: Tanner Olson (Jr./RHP, 1-1, 7.15 ERA)
NM: James Harrington (So./RHP, 3-1, 6.26 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.
New Mexico Lobos | Overall: 15-8 | Road: 9-4
New Mexico won twice at Grand Canyon earlier this year and has started 7-2 in Mountain West conference play, winning road series at Nevada and San Diego State. The Lobos lead the Mountain West and rank in the top-20 nationally in walks, on-base percentage, double plays turned, batting average, and slugging percentage. The team is hitting .314 for the year and averages 7.6 runs per game but has a 5.46 team ERA. New Mexico is receiving votes in the NCBWA and USA Today Coaches' Polls and has six starters hitting better than .300 on the season. Surprisingly, the New Mexico and Sacramento State baseball programs have never before met.
With five straight 1-run victories the Hornets are now 8-0 this year in 1-run games. A strong back end of the bullpen and timely hitting have made the Hornets unbeatable in close games, especially on their home field. Of the team's eight home wins this year are five 1-run victories with two walk-off wins. Sacramento State is also 3-0 in extra-inning games for the season.
The Hornets opened WAC play with a home series sweep for the third consecutive year, having also swept Texas-Pan American and Northern Colorado to open the 2015 and 2014 WAC seasons, respectively. In both of those years the team went on to sweep its second league series as well. Hornet pitching posted a 1.24 team ERA in the North Dakota series while holding the Fighting Hawks to a .224 batting average. Over nine total innings the Hornet bullpen did not allow a single run and only four hits
In the series sweep of North Dakota the Hornets did not allow a single extra-base hit. All 22 hits by the Fighting Hawks in the three games were singles, a large portion of which were just infield hits. In only allowing single base hits, and only issuing two total walks, the Hornets were able to hold UND to just five runs in the series while the Hawks hit just 2-for-18 (.111) with runners in scoring position. The Hornets had just three extra-base hits of their own (all doubles) in the well-pitched series.
Walk it Off
Sacramento State recorded two walk-off wins last week. The first of the season came when junior Blake Edmonson drove in the tying and winning runs with a pinch hit two-run double in the bottom of the 10th inning in Tuesday's 6-5 win over San Francisco. In the first game of the doubleheader on Saturday, senior Trent Goodrich was the hero as he delivered a walk-off single to left center in the bottom of the 11th inning to give his team a 3-2 win. Both walk-off hits came with one out in the inning.
The Hornets are 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 three weekend series along with two games against New Mexico, one against San Francisco, and one against William Jessup, with all 13 at John Smith Field. The homestand was originally going to be 12 games before the William Jessup game was added.
Matt's Big Bat
Freshman designated hitter Matt Smith has opened his collegiate career recording a hit in each of the first 16 game he has play. He missed six games after getting hit by a pitch March 6 but continued his hitting streak when he returned in the Cal Poly series. His 16-game hitting streak is the longest in the WAC this season and Smith also has an RBI in 10 of the 16 contests he has played in, leading the team with 13 RBIs on the season despite missing a week and a half of action. A local product from Placerville, Smith is hitting .421 with a .485 on-base percentage for the year and is 3-for-3 on stolen base attempts.
Back to WAC
Sacramento State began Western Athletic Conference (WAC) last week after being picked to finish second in the 10-team WAC in the preseason conference coaches' poll. The Hornets earned 74 points and four first place votes in the poll finishing just behind Grand Canyon, which had 77 points and five first place votes to be picked to repeat as WAC champion. As was the case last year, Grand Canyon is still not eligible to compete in the WAC or NCAA Tournaments as it reclassifies to Div. I, so the poll essentially predicts the Hornets to be the top seed for the WAC Tournament at the end of May.
Finished after Four
Sacramento State is undefeated this season when leading after the fourth inning. The team is 7-0 when leading after four innings and even better when leading in the late innings at 8-0 after the seventh and 10-0 when leading after the eighth. The team also has seven wins when trailing or tied after four innings.
Sacramento State ranks second in the WAC with 42 doubles this year. Junior catcher Gunner Pollman leads the team and is tied for third in the WAC with seven doubles among his 14 hits this season. Sacramento State has also been successful turning double plays this year, tying for second in the league with 20 double plays recorded thus far. By comparison the Hornets have hit into just 12 double plays on the season.
Hornet senior Tyler Beardsley has not only taken over the job of closer but has become the team's finisher as well. He has a WAC-high five saves but also a team high four wins, having finished 11 of the team's 22 games this year. Of the 12 games Beardsley has pitched this year the team has won 11 of them as he has figured into the decision in nine Hornet wins. He has allowed just one earned run in 18.1 innings pitched, allowing only nine hits and holding the opposition to a .170 batting average. He did not allow a run through his first eight appearances of the 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 now 51-21 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 69 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 on March 20. 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 second on the team hitting .296 this season with a .342 on-base percentage.
The Hornets are second in the WAC with 30 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 and the team had five steals in the North Dakota series. Sacramento State finished second in the WAC with 79 stolen bases last season.
On March 15 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.).
The Hornets have a stacked non-conference schedule again in 2016. In its season-opening road trip the team played two NCAA Tournament teams from last year, including the No. 5 team in the country, and a Northwestern State team that won 31 games last year and was picked second in the Southland Conference. The team's first home opponent, South Dakota State, won 33 games last season, while Arizona was also a 30-win team last year. Cal Poly was nationally ranked most of the last three seaons and New Mexico is currently receiving votes in two national polls.
Sacramento State has five seniors on its 2016 roster but just one of them, outfielder Chris Lewis, has been with the program for his entire collegiate career. A former Freshman All-American, Lewis hit a solid .275 with five home runs and 32 RBIs last year and once again led the team with a brilliant WAC Tournament for the second consecutive year. He is currently ninth in program history with 105 career RBIs.
The JC Route
Of Sacramento State's 12 newcomers in 2016, 10 of them came to the Hornets as junior college transfers. Position player starters Trent Goodrich, Kody Reynolds, and Andrew McWilliam are new JC transfers as is starter Max Karnos. The team also has three returners that came to the Hornets as junior college transfers originally, all three of which came as juniors. The roster has just two players without previous collegiate experience in two true freshmen.
Junior catcher Gunner Pollman led the WAC with 27 runners caught stealing last year, 10 more than any other conference catcher totaled. He ranked eighth in the NCAA with a .435 caught stealing percentage and was named to the watch list for the Johnny Bench Award, an honor presented annually to the top catcher in NCAA Div. I baseball. He began the 2016 season on the Bench Award watch list again and has thrown out nine base stealers so far this year.