SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Sacramento State (26-21) enters the penultimate week of the regular season hosting Causeway rival UC Davis (15-26) at 3 p.m. Tuesday at John Smith Field. The Hornets have won 10 of their last 12 meetings with the Aggies but will be looking to avenge a UC Davis win in Davis last Tuesday.
- Sacramento State has clinched a berth in the WAC Tournament and is currently tied with Utah Valley for third place in the WAC Standings with two weeks remaining in the regular season.
- Junior Max Karnos faced just one batter over the minimum in a shutout of Utah Valley on Friday, allowing just three singles and one walk with four strikeouts for his second shutout of the season.
- Sacramento State is undefeated (19-0) 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.
- The Hornets have won 10 of their last 12 games against UC Davis and have not lost to the Aggies at John Smith Field since March 10, 2010. UCD won the first meeting this season last Tuesday.
- UC Davis had a 9-25 record but has won six of its last seven games and took 2-of-3 in a home series against No. 13 UC Santa Barbara last weekend. The Aggies are just 3-10 on the road this season.
All Sacramento State home games stream live online at HornetSports.com/Radio with Anthony Rifenburg 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 - Austin Ragsdale (Jr./RHP, 2-0, 5.68 ERA)
UCD - Justin Mullins (Jr./RHP, 1-4, 5.03 ERA)
UC Davis Aggies | Overall: 15-26 | BWC: 4-11 | Road: 3-10
UC Davis was 9-25 going into the last week of April but is 6-1 since then and won 2-of-3 games last weekend hosting No. 13 UC Santa Barbara. The Aggies also beat Sacramento State last Tuesday in Davis, taking an early 7-0 lead and completing an 8-2 win behind six strong innings from starter Justin Mullins. The Hornets have still won 10 of their last 12 meeting with rival UC Davis and have not lost to the Aggies at John Smith Field since March 5, 2010. Mark Cardinalli is now hitting .327 for UC Davis while Cameron Olson, who homered against the Hornets last week, paces the team with 24 RBIs and 17 extra-base hits this year.
Junior Max Karnos has been one of the best starters in the WAC this season and put together his best outing as a Hornet last Friday, tossing his second shutout of the season allowing just three singles and facing only one better over the minimum against Utah Valley. After each of the three singles he allowed Karnos immediately got the next hitter to ground into a double play, as the only baserunner the Wolverines stranded came from a two-out walk. He struck out four and threw only 94 pitches for his second complete game shutout while he also has a shared shutout this year. In his first season with the Hornets after transferring from Western Nevada College Karnos is fifth in the WAC with a 2.94 season ERA, having allowed two earned runs or fewer in five of his seven WAC starts.
Sacramento State has clinched a berth in the WAC Tournament, as have Seattle U, New Mexico State, and Utah Valley. The top six teams in the final standings qualify for the WAC Tournament as two spots remain open, but Grand Canyon is still ineligible for postseason play as it moves to Div. I. The Hornets are tied with Utah Valley for third place in the league but the Wolverines own the tiebreaker after winning the series between the teams last week. The top two teams in the final conference standings will earn byes in the first round while the four other qualifiers will open play in the double-elimination tournament on May 25 in Mesa, Ariz.
Domination of Davis
Despite the loss in Davis last 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).
Sacramento State started 10-0 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 Hornets are averaging just under five runs scored per game while the pitching staff has a 1.90 ERA and .222 opposing batting average with three shutouts in home WAC play this season. Through 21 total WAC games the Hornets are hitting .275 and averaging nearly five runs scored per game and the pitching staff has a solid 3.43 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 37.2 innings pitched this year for a 0.96 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 24 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 52nd best save total in NCAA Div. I.
Curtains After Seven
Sacramento State is undefeated this season when leading after the seventh inning. The team is 19-0 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 is tied for 39th in NCAA Div. I with 43 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, and had five double plays vs. Utah Valley. Thirteen different players have been part of a defensive double play this season, including six pitchers. The team also ranks fourth in the WAC with a .970 season fielding percentage.
Putting the H in DH
Freshman designated hitter Matt Smith has a hit in 35 of the first 41 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 is currently on an eight-game hitting streak in which he is hitting .452. Smith missed a week and a half after getting hit by a pitch March 6 but is hitting a team-high .329 on the year with 28 RBIs and 18 runs scored.
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 lead the WAC and are 26th in NCAA Div. I allowing just 2.98 walks per nine innings. Sunday starter Grant Kukuk is the most stingy Hornet in issuing walks, allowing only 1.60 walks per nine innings this year. Every Hornet starting pitcher and six relievers have more strikeouts than walks allowed this season.
Four Strikeouts, One Inning
Junior starter Sam Long, making a midweek cameo in relief, accomplished something last 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 tied for the WAC lead and 55th in the nation with 62 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 30 games this year with multiple steals in 13. Sacramento State finished second in the WAC with 79 steals 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 21 of the last 26 games, raising his batting average to .301. Grubbs leads the team defensively as well, as among his 132 putouts this year are dozens of sensational catches that have saved several runs and he has an outfield assist with just one error this season.
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.
The only fourth-year senior on the team, left fielder Chris Lewis is hitting .306 with four home runs and a team-high 31 RBIs this season. He also leads the team with 16 multi-hit games and seven multi-RBI games, including a pair of 4-RBI games. He 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. A former Freshman All-American and the 2014 WAC Tournament MVP, Lewis ranks fifth in program history in career RBIs (125) and doubles (46) and is fifth with 744 career at-bats.
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 32.2 innings of relief in WAC games. The Hornet bullpen has an 11-3 record and 8 saves overall this season.
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.
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.
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 25 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.