SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Having started WAC play 6-0 for the third consecutive season, Sacramento State (17-11, 6-0 WAC) looks to remain unbeaten in conference play in its first road league series at CSU Bakersfield (5-22, 0-6 WAC). The teams will play at 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday with the finale at noon on Sunday.
- Sacramento State has recorded consecutive series sweeps to open WAC play for the third straight season. Hornet pitching has posted a 2.09 ERA allowing just 2.3 runs per game in six WAC games.
- The Hornets were 10-for-11 in stolen base attempts last weekend with Andrew McWilliam tying the program record with four steals in the finale. The team leads the WAC with 42 steals this year.
- Sacramento State went 9-4 on their 13-game homestand over 19 days, the longest homestand in program history. The Hornets swept two WAC series and had wins over Cal Poly and San Francisco.
- Freshman DH Matt Smith has a hit in 21 of the first 22 games he has played in his collegiate career. Andrew McWilliam is 9-for-15 (.600) over the last four games with a homer, 7 RBIs, and 5 Runs.
- CSU Bakersfield, the defending WAC Tournament champion, began the year 4-2 but has lost 19 of its last 20 games. The Roadrunners have dropped 12 straight games and have a 6.50 team ERA.
SAC - Max Karnos (Jr./RHP, 2-1, 3.34 ERA)
CSUB - AJ Monarrez (Sr./RHP, 1-4, 6.81 ERA)
SAC - Sam Long (Jr./LHP, 3-4, 3.72 ERA)
CSUB - Andrew Hansen (Fr./RHP, 1-5, 5.62 ERA)
SAC - Grant Kukuk (Sr./RHP, 3-1, 4.00 ERA)
CSUB - Chance Gusbeth (Sr./RHP, 1-2, 7.67 ERA)
CSU Bakersfield will provide video and live stats on gorunners.com and linked above. Friday's game will be streamed on the WAC Digital Network. All game day media links can always be found on the baseball schedule page on hornetsports.com. 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.
CSU Bakersfield Roadrunners | Overall: 5-22 | WAC: 0-6 | Home: 3-12
CSU Bakersfield, the defending WAC Tournament champion, opened the season 4-2 but has lost 19 of its last 20 games. The team has lost 12 straight games, giving up at least six runs in each game with sweeps by Seattle U and Grand Canyon in its first two WAC series. The Roadrunners are decent offensively hitting .264 but have hit a conference-low four home runs and have a 6.50 team ERA, ranking last in the league with 171 earned runs allowed. No CSUB starting pitcher this season has an ERA better than 5.62. The Hornets are 6-10 all-time vs. the Roadrunners and were eliminated by them in the WAC Tournament last year.
On Fire Last Four
Sophomore outfielder Andrew McWilliam is 9-for-15 (.600) with 7 RBIs and 5 runs scored over the last four games. He has a home run and two doubles in the stretch with RBIs and runs in each game. He also tied the program record with four stolen bases against Northern Colorado last Sunday, then recorded Sacramento State's first four-hit game of the year going 4-for-5 with a homer and 3 RBIs on Tuesday at Fresno State. For the season he leads the team with 15 runs scored and nine stolen bases and also leads with nine multi-hit games. Defensively he has 59 putouts without an error playing right field and has one outfield assist.
Sacramento State has recorded consecutive series sweeps to open WAC play for the third straight season. The Hornets opened conference play with a sweep of North Dakota and followed with a sweep of Northern Colorado at John Smith Field. Hornet pitching has posted a 2.09 ERA and a .243 opposing batting average with a 1.16 WHIP through six WAC games, allowing just 2.3 runs per game. Over nine total innings against North Dakota the Hornet bullpen did not allow a single run and only four hits, and overall in WAC play four of the six relievers the team has used have not allowed a run in 13.1 innings.
Bats Come Alive
The Hornet offensive attack had a strong weekend against Northern Colorado, averaging 6.3 runs per game in the three-game sweep. Three Sacramento State players hit better than .300 with sophomore Andrew McWilliam leading that way hitting 5-for-10 (.500) with 4 RBIs and 4 runs scored. Senior Chris Lewis had a home run and two doubles while the squad also tallied a pair of triples. The Hornets kept the hot bats going at Fresno State scoring five runs on 11 hits with five extra-base hits in the contest.
Another key in the Northern Colorado series was the running game, as the Hornets were 10-for-11 in stolen base attempts while the Bears were just 4-for-7. Andrew McWilliam tied the program record with four steals in the series finale after the team swiped five bags on Friday. On the season the Hornets lead the WAC and are tied for 43rd in the nation with 42 stolen bases. The team was 9-for-9 in its season-opening series at Auburn and has at least one steal in 19 games this year with multiple steals in nine games. Sacramento State finished second in the WAC with 79 stolen bases last season.
The Hornets finished 9-4 on their 13 game homestand over 19 days. The homestand was the longest in the Div. I era of the program, eclipsing a 10-game home stretch in 2005. The Hornets had WAC series sweeps of North Dakota and Northern Colorado and single wins over Cal Poly, San Francisco, and William Jessup while also hosting New Mexico for two games. The homestand was originally going to be 12 games before the William Jessup game was added. The squad now plays 13 of their next 17 games on the road.
Putting the H in DH
Freshman designated hitter Matt Smith has a hit in 21 of the first 22 games he has played in his collegiate career. He opened the season with a 16-game hitting streak, the longest in the WAC this season, and he also has an RBI in 13 of the 22 contests he has played in this year. He missed a week and a half after getting hit by a pitch March 6 but is still leading the team with 16 RBIs on the season. A local product from Placerville, Smith ranks fourth in the WAC hitting .370 this year with a .430 on-base percentage and seven multi-hit games.
Finished after Four
Sacramento State is undefeated this season when leading after the fourth inning. The team is 10-0 when leading after four innings and even better when leading in the late innings at 11-0 after the seventh and 13-0 when leading after eight.
Sacramento State was 8-0 this year in 1-run games before a 1-0 loss against New Mexico last Tuesday. A strong back end of the bullpen and timely hitting have made the Hornets nearly unbeatable in close games, especially on their home field. Of the team's 11 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.
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 13 games this year (no other WAC pitcher has finished more than 8 games). Of the 15 games Beardsley has pitched this year the team has won 13 of them as he has allowed just one earned run in 21.0 innings pitched, good for a 0.43 ERA and a .190 opposing batting average.
Double Your Outs, Double Your Pleasure
Sacramento State is second in the WAC and tied for 67th in Div. I with 24 double plays turned this year. Eleven different players have been part of a defensive double play this season, including four pitchers. By comparison the team has hit into just 16 double plays offensively. The team also ranks second in the WAC with a .969 season fielding percentage.
Big Bats Silenced
Last Monday the Hornets held New Mexico - one of the top offensive teams in NCAA Div. I - to just one run, becoming the first team this season to hold the Lobos to fewer than two runs in a game. The Lobos entered the game averaging 7.6 runs per game this season, the 24th best scoring average in Div. I. New Mexico also entered the game ninth in the nation in on-base percentage, 15th in walks, and 18th in batting average but was held to only eight base runners on Monday. Junior Tanner Olson, making his first career start as a Hornet, allowed only one run on five hits and no walks with three strikeouts in five innings.
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.
Walk it Off
Sacramento State recorded two walk-off home wins over a stretch of three games in March. 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 a 6-5 win over San Francisco. In the first game of the doubleheader on March 26, 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.
Sacramento State was 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.
Happy at 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, prior to the 13-game homestand. The Hornets have had winning home records in four straight seasons and are now 57-23 at home over the last three years. The team has had at least 18 home wins in four straight seasons.
Grubbs Making Grabs
Sophomore center fielder Bronson Grubbs has been superb both in the field and at the plate this year. Among his 84 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 .310 this season with a .363 on-base percentage and 14 runs scored.
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. The team's first home opponent, South Dakota State, won 33 games last season, while Arizona was also a 30-win team last year and Cal Poly was nationally ranked. New Mexico and Fresno State are both 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 tied for eighth in program history with 108 career RBIs and is seventh with 39 career doubles.
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 are starters Max Karnos and Tanner Olson. 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 leads the WAC with 13 runners caught stealing this year. Last year he threw out 27 base stealers, 10 more than any other conference catcher totaled. He 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, for the second straight season.