SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Winners of seven of their last nine games, Sacramento State (25-15, 12-3 WAC) continues conference play this weekend with a three-game series at New Mexico State (22-18, 10-5 WAC). Scheduled game times are 5 p.m. Pacific time Friday, noon Saturday, and 11 a.m. on Sunday.
Also on Thursday, Sacramento State senior closer Tyler Beardsley was named to the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) Stopper of the Year Midseason Watch List, as he ranks among the top relievers in NCAA Div. I listed as candidates for the honor that is given to the top relief pitcher in the nation. See more about Beardsley below.
- Sacramento State is tied with Seattle U atop the WAC standings at 12-3. The Hornets have a 2.20 ERA and are hitting .285 and averaging better than five runs scored per game in WAC competition.
- The Hornets 15-inning win over UT Rio Grande Valley tied for the second longest game in WAC history. It came in the team's fourth unscheduled doubleheader this year and second suspended game.
- Senior closer Tyler Beardsley was named to the NCBWA Stopper of the Year Watch List as he has allowed just one earned run in 31.2 innings pitched this year for a 0.28 ERA and is 4-0 with 8 saves.
- With two straight extra-inning wins Sacramento State is 5-0 in extra-inning games this year, outscoring its opponents 8-2. The Hornets are also 18-0 this season when leading after seven innings
- New Mexico State opened WAC play 9-1 but has lost four of its last five league games. The Hornets have won nine straight games against the Aggies, who are the highest scoring team in the WAC.
SAC - Sam Long (Jr./LHP, 4-5, 3.45 ERA)
NMSU - Marcel Renteria (Jr./RHP, 3-3, 4.15 ERA)
SAC - Max Karnos (Jr./RHP, 4-2, 2.93 ERA)
NMSU - Kyle Bradish (Fr./RHP, 5-3, 4.33 ERA)
SAC - Grant Kukuk (Sr./RHP, 5-1, 3.51 ERA)
NMSU - TBA
Saturday's game will be streamed live on watchespn.com and the WAC Digital Network. New Mexico State will also provide an audio broadcast on Sunday and will have live stats for each game. 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.
New Mexico State Aggies | Overall: 22-18 | WAC: 10-5 | Home: 10-7
New Mexico State began WAC play with a 9-1 record but has lost four of its last five league games and six of the last seven games overall. The Aggies are the highest scoring team in the conference, averaging 5.9 runs per game, and are second in the league hitting .282. The team has the fourth-best ERA in the WAC but has just a .956 fielding percentage. Daniel Johnson is hitting .333 for the Aggies and leads the WAC with 21 stolen bases, 41 runs scored, and 12 triples and Dan Hetzel leads the league with 38 RBIs. The Hornets have won nine straight games against the Aggies including a sweep in Las Cruces in 2014.
The Hornets have won two straight games in extra innings and are 5-0 this year in extra-inning games. Over 14 total extra innings played Sacramento State has outscored its opposition 8-2. Hornet pitchers have a 0.64 ERA and .196 opposing batting average in the 10th inning and later this season and the team has hit .370 in bonus baseball.
Hornet senior closer Tyler Beardsley had been named to the midseason NCBWA Stopper of the Year Watch List. He is one of 40 pitchers nationally to be listed for the award that honors the top relief pitcher in Div. I. Beardsley has allowed just one earned run in 31.2 innings pitched this year for a 0.28 ERA. He has not allowed a run in 15.0 innings pitched in WAC play, including five scoreless innings of relief in the Hornets' 15-inning win at URTGV. Of the 21 games Beardsley has pitched this year the team has won 18 of them as he is 4-0 with a WAC-high eight saves, tied for the 31st best save total in NCAA Div. I.
Sacramento State outlasted UT Rio Grande Valley 5-3 in 15 innings in the series finale. The game, which was the second of a doubleheader, was suspended in the 13th inning on Saturday night due to rain and was completed on Sunday. At 15 innings the game tied for the longest conference game in WAC history and the second longest in Hornet program history, matching a 15-inning win the Hornets had at home against Seattle U in 2014. Sacramento State's four longest games in program history have all come in the last three seasons, including the record-long 18-inning game at No. 15 Iowa last year.
Sacramento State remains tied with Seattle U atop the WAC standings at 12-3 in league play. The pitching staff has a 2.20 ERA in 15 WAC games while the offense is hitting .285 and averaging better than five runs scored per game in WAC competition. For the first time in program history Sacramento State swept each of its first three home WAC series of the season and picked up a road WAC series win taking 2-of-3 games at UT Rio Grande Valley last week.
Weathering the Weather
Weather once again wreaked havoc on the Hornets last weekend in Texas as the teams moved Sunday's game up to a Saturday doubleheader based on the forecast but the second game ended up being suspended due to rain. The team has had to play four unscheduled doubleheaders, had games against South Dakota State and Northwestern State cancelled, and has had two games suspended due to weather. All told, the Hornets have had 15 scheduled game times or dates either altered or cancelled due to weather, including the addition of the William Jessup game as a make-up date for the cancelled contests. The game vs. Fresno State on Wednesday started 40 minutes late due to weather.
Long Does it All
Junior Sam Long, the team's Friday starter and the preseason WAC Pitcher of the Year, played a huge role in Sacramento State's 15-inning win over UT Rio Grande Valley though he never took the mound. He came in as a defensive replacement in right field in the 13th inning of the game and ended up making three catches, including the final out of the bottom of the 13th with the bases loaded. He then had his first career at-bat in the 15th inning and singled to left on the first pitch before eventually scoring the winning run. In his start on Friday Long held the Vaqueros to just four hits and no earned runs over six innings.
Curtains After Seven
Sacramento State is undefeated this season when leading after the seventh inning. The team is 18-0 when leading after seven innings and has just two losses this year when leading after six. The team is also 5-0 in extra-inning games this year.
Sophomore center fielder Bronson Grubbs has been superb both in the field and at the plate this year. He had a career-long 10 game hitting streak and has hits in 17 of the last 19 games, taking over the team lead hitting .331 this season. He hit 7-for-15 (.467) in the series at UT Rio Grande Valley with his first career three-hit game in the finale. Grubbs leads the team defensively as well, as among his 116 putouts this year are dozens of sensational catches as well as an outfield assist.
Sacramento State leads the WAC and is tied for 41st in the nation with 59 stolen bases this year. The Hornets were 10-for-11 in stolen base attempts against Northern Colorado, 9-for-9 in their season-opening series win at Auburn, and have at least one steal in 29 games this year with multiple steals in 13 games. Sacramento State finished second in the WAC with 79 stolen bases last season.
Lewis Lighting it Up
Over the last 17 games senior Chris Lewis is hitting .423 with 15 RBIs and 14 runs scored. He has 11 multi-hit lines in the stretch including six 3-hit games and he has three multi-RBI games. Lewis was named WAC Hitter of the Week on April 18 after hitting 11-for-17 (.647) with 8 RBIs and 5 runs scored over the four-game week. The only fourth-year senior on the team, Lewis ranks sixth in program history in both career RBIs (120) and doubles (45).
Walk it Off
Sacramento State has recorded three walk-off home wins this year. 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. Gunner Pollman delivered the walk-off on Wednesday driving in Chris Lewis with an infield single in the 11th.
Rally to Raley
With two wins this year Sacramento State is now 10-6 all-time at Raley Field, the home of the Triple-A affiliate of the San Francisco Giants, the Sacramento River Cats. Sacramento State played nine games at Raley Field over the 2014 and 2015 seasons, winning six with a 7-6 victory over No. 4 Oregon State on April 21, 2014.
Sacramento State is tied for the WAC lead and is tied for 52nd in NCAA Div. I with 36 double plays turned this year. The Hornets turned six double plays in the three-game Chicago State series, including four in the first seven innings on Saturday. Thirteen different players have been part of a defensive double play this season, including six pitchers. The team also ranks second in the WAC with a .970 season fielding percentage.
Light it Up
Lights have begun to be installed at John Smith Field and may be completed before the end of the 2016 season. Funding for lights was announced by the university in 2014 while the playing surface of the stadium was also re-graded and replaced over the summer among several facility enhancement projects to take place across the campus.
The Pen is Mighty
The Hornet bullpen has been strong all season and especially so in WAC play. Tyler Beardsley, Jonny Palsha, and Tanner Olson have combined to throw 24.2 scoreless innings of relief in WAC play and as a whole the Hornet bullpen has a 1.99 ERA, a 1.01 WHIP, and a .200 opposing batting average over 40.2 innings of relief in 15 WAC games.
Putting the H in DH
Freshman designated hitter Matt Smith has a hit in 28 of the first 34 games he has played in his collegiate career. He opened the season with a 16-game hitting streak, the second longest in the WAC this season, and he also has an RBI in 19 contests this year. He missed a week and a half after getting hit by a pitch March 6 but is tied for second on the team with 24 RBIs on the season.
Sacramento State began the season with just one scheduled doubleheader but has played four so far due to rain and field conditions. Ironically, the one doubleheader that was originally scheduled, against South Dakota State on March 5, was not played due to weather. The most recent doubleheaders, at CSU Bakersfield and at UT Rio Grande Valley, were both not completed as the second games were suspended and completed the following day. The Hornets are 5-3 this year in their doubleheader games.
Junior catcher Gunner Pollman leads the WAC with 22 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.