SACRAMENTO, Calif. - With three weeks left in the regular season Sacramento State (25-19, 12-6 WAC) hosts Utah Valley (26-18, 11-7 WAC) for a three game series this weekend. The Hornets are currently third in the WAC standings while the Wolverines are just behind in fourth place.
Game times for the series will be 3 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. Saturday, and noon Sunday at John Smith Field. Sacramento State has not played at its on campus home field since April 17.
- Sacramento State is 9-0 in home WAC games this season after sweeping each of its first three home WAC series of the year for the first time in program history. The team is 15-4 at home overall.
- The Hornets are third in the WAC standings with three weeks left in the regular season. The squad is just one game behind New Mexico State and will end the season hosting WAC leader Seattle U.
- Senior closer Tyler Beardsley was named to the NCBWA Stopper of the Year Watch List as he has allowed just four earned runs in 34.2 innings pitched this year for a 1.04 ERA and is 4-0 with 8 saves.
- Sacramento State is undefeated (18-0) when leading after seven innings this season and has just two losses this year when leading after six. The team is also 5-0 in extra-inning games this year.
- Utah Valley has won four straight games and has two wins this year over ranked teams. The Wolverines are hitting .283 and lead the WAC in hits and total bases and are second in runs scored.
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.
SAC - Max Karnos (Jr./RHP, 4-3, 3.38 ERA)
UVU - Patrick Wolfe (Jr./LHP, 1-2, 4.70 ERA)
SAC - Sam Long (Jr./LHP, 4-6, 4.76 ERA)
UVU - Danny Beddes (Sr./RHP, 5-3, 4.74 ERA)
SAC - Grant Kukuk (Sr./RHP, 5-2, 4.23 ERA)
UVU - Jackson Cofer (So./LHP, 4-4, 4.53 ERA)
Utah Valley Wolverines | Overall: 26-18 | WAC: 11-7 | Road: 10-6
Utah Valley defeated No. 5 Oregon State this year and beat BYU, a team voted No. 26 in the NCBWA poll, on Tuesday. The Wolverines have played only two road WAC series but won both of them, taking 2-of-3 games at both Grand Canyon and New Mexico State. Utah Valley is hitting .283 and leads the WAC in hits and total bases and is second in runs scored. UVU has a 5.02 team ERA, however. Justin Erlandson is hitting .347 and Craig Brinkerhoff is third in the WAC with six homers. Sacramento State is 17-12 all-time against Utah Valley and eliminated the team from the WAC Tournament in each of the last two seasons.
Four Strikeouts, One Inning
Junior starter Sam Long, making a midweek cameo in relief, accomplished something on Tuesday that you very rarely see in baseball as he struck out four batters in one inning. On Long's third strikeout of the inning, UC Davis catcher Logan Denholm was able to reach first on a wild pitch. Long came back to strikeout the next hitter on four pitches, as he threw just 14 pitchers to pick up four K's, issuing just two total balls in the four at-bats with two three-pitch strikeouts.
Sacramento State is 9-0 in home WAC games this season after sweeping each of its first three home WAC series of the year for the first time in program history. Through nine home WAC games the Hornets are averaging better than five runs scored per game while allowing just over two runs per game. The pitching staff has a 1.87 ERA and .222 opposing batting average with two shutouts, and the team's three weekend starters all have ERAs at 1.89 or lower and have combined to go 7-0. Through 18 WAC games overall the Hornets are hitting .286 and averaging nearly five runs scored per game and the pitching staff has a solid 3.67 ERA in WAC competition.
Hornet senior closer Tyler Beardsley has 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 four earned runs in 34.2 innings pitched this year for a 1.04 ERA. He did not allow a run in his first 15.0 innings pitched in WAC play and had a 0.28 ERA over his first 32 innings pitched this year. Of the 23 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 39th best save total in NCAA Div. I.
With three weeks left in the regular season Sacramento State sits in third place in the WAC standings and is just one game behind second-place New Mexico State. The top six teams in the final standings qualify for the WAC Tournament, but Grand Canyon is still ineligible for the postseason. The Hornets are already close to securing a spot in the tournament and can clinch a berth this weekend. If the Hornets finish as the No. 1 or No. 2 seed they would earn a bye in the first round of the tournament.
Domination of Davis
Despite the loss in Davis on Tuesday Sacramento State has still won 10 of the last 12 meetings with Causeway rival UC Davis. The Hornets had won five consecutive meetings with the Aggies in Davis before the Aggies claimed the win on Tuesday. The teams will meet again next Tuesday at John Smith Field, where UCD hasn't won a game since March 5, 2010 (the Aggies beat the Hornets at Raley Field in 2014).
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.
Sacramento State outlasted UT Rio Grande Valley 5-3 in 15 innings in the series finale April 23/24. 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 18-inning game at No. 15 Iowa last year.
Weathering the Weather
Sacramento State has had 15 scheduled game times or dates either altered or cancelled due to weather this season. 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. The Hornets have thrived despite the schedule changes, as the team is 10-3 in its 13 weather-altered games that were played.
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 20 of the last 23 games, raising his batting average to .312. 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 123 putouts this year are dozens of sensational catches and he has an outfield assist with just one error this season.
Sacramento State is tied for 63rd in NCAA Div. I with 38 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 third in the WAC with a .970 season fielding percentage.
The Hornets are second in the WAC and 36th in NCAA Div. I allowing just 3.11 walks per nine innings. Sunday starter Grant Kukuk is the most stingy Hornet in issuing walks, allowing only 1.75 walks per nine innings this year. Every Hornet starting pitcher and six relievers have more strikeouts than walks allowed this season.
Sacramento State leads the WAC and is tied for 49th in the nation with 61 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.
Light it Up
Lights have been installed at John Smith Field and may be ready for use 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.
The Hornets 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.
Lewis Lighting it Up
Over the last 21 games senior Chris Lewis is hitting .400 with 16 RBIs and 16 runs scored. He has 12 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 career RBIs (121) and is tied for fifth in doubles (46).
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 allow just three earned runs over 28.2 innings of relief in WAC games. The Hornet bullpen has an 11-3 record overall this season.
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 last 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.
More Than a Pitcher
Junior pitcher Sam Long 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.
Putting the H in DH
Freshman designated hitter Matt Smith has a hit in 32 of the first 38 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 20 contests this year. He missed a week and a half after getting hit by a pitch March 6 but is hitting a team-high .313 on the year with 26 RBIs.
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 23 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.