SACRAMENTO, Calif. - After the first night game in program history at John Smith Field on Tuesday, Sacramento State (28-24, 15-9 WAC) will play two more night games in a three-game series to close the regular season against WAC leader Seattle U (33-18, 19-5). The teams will play under the lights at 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday before concluding the series at noon Saturday, which will also be Senior Day.
- A near capacity crowd was on hand for Sacramento State's first ever night game under the new lights at John Smith Field, which built in 1953 and renamed for Coach Smith in 2010, on Tuesday.
- Sacramento State will be either the No. 3 or 4 seed for the WAC Tournament and will open play in the double-elimination tournament on May 25 at either 3 p.m. or 7 p.m. in Mesa, Ariz.
- Junior Max Karnos had a 16-inning scoreless streak over two starts, throwing a shutout against Utah Valley and then allowing just one run in eight innings in a win over Grand Canyon on Friday.
- Sacramento State ranks second in the WAC in ERA, opposing batting average, and WHIP, trailing Seattle U. The Hornets lead the WAC and rank 26th nationally allowing 2.99 walks per nine innings.
- Seattle U has broken the program record with 33 wins this season and is the top pitching team in the WAC, ranking 35th in NCAA Div. I with a 3.43 ERA. The team is also hitting a WAC-best .299.
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, 6-3, 2.76 ERA)
SU - Ted Hammond (Sr./RHP, 8-2, 4.29 ERA)
SAC - Sam Long (Jr./LHP, 5-7, 4.40 ERA)
SU - Nick Meservey (So./LHP, 6-2, 2.12 ERA)
SAC - Grant Kukuk (Sr./RHP, 5-3, 4.22 ERA)
SU - Janson Junk (So./RHP, 5-4, 3.67 ERA)
Seattle U Redhawks | Overall: 33-18 | WAC: 19-5 | Road: 9-13
Seattle U has put together its best season in program history with a record 33 wins. The Redhawks lead the WAC in virtually every pitching category and are 35th in NCAA Div. I with a 3.43 team ERA. Seattle U also leads the WAC hitting .299 and with a .972 fielding percentage and is second with 36 home runs. The team has lost only one WAC series all season and has a one game lead over New Mexico State (the Aggies own the tiebreaker). Saturday starter Nick Meservey is 6-1 with a WAC-best 2.12 ERA and Sheldon Stober is hitting .365 with 5 homers and 31 RBIs. The Hornets lead the all-time series against the Redhawks 11-5.
A near capacity crowd was on hand for Sacramento State's first ever night game under the new lights at John Smith Field on Tuesday. Coach Reggie Christiansen and former coaches John Smith and Cal Boyes ceremonially turned on the lights for the first time before Sacramento State President Robert Nelsen threw out the first pitch to former Hornet catcher and 2014 team captain Dane Fujinaka. In the first night game in the 63-year history of the field, which opened in 1953, the crowd watched as the sun set and the lights took full effect for the first time around 8:30 p.m.
Sacramento State will be either the No. 3 or 4 seed for the WAC Tournament. Seattle U has clinched a first round bye while New Mexico State and Utah Valley are competing for the second. Seattle U has a one game lead over New Mexico State while the Hornets and Utah Valley are tied for third place, three games behind the Aggies. The top six teams in the final standings qualify for the WAC Tournament as Northern Colorado, UT Rio Grande Valley, and CSU Bakersfield are battling for the last two spots (Grand Canyon is still ineligible). Sacramento State will open play in the double-elimination tournament on May 25 at Hohokam Stadium in Mesa, Ariz. at either 3 p.m. or 7 p.m.
Over the last five games junior Kody Reynolds has three multi-hit games and is hitting .450 (9-for-20) with a home run, three doubles, three RBIs, and three runs. He recorded a pair of 3-hit games against UC Davis and Pacific with a long 2-run homer against the Tigers on Tuesday. He is now second on the team hitting .296 this season.
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 24 total WAC games the Hornets are hitting .273 and averaging 4.7 runs scored per game and the pitching staff has a solid 3.35 ERA in WAC competition.
Junior Max Karnos has been one of the best starters in the WAC this season and had a 16-inning scoreless streak over his last two starts. He put together his best outing as a Hornet against Utah Valley, 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 was nearly as dominant at Grand Canyon, taking a shutout into the eighth inning and allowed just one run with five strikeouts. In his first season with the Hornets after transferring from Western Nevada College Karnos is third in the WAC with a 2.76 season ERA, having allowed two earned runs or fewer in six of his eighth WAC starts.
The Hornet pitching staff ranks second in the WAC in ERA, WHIP, opposing batting average, and walks. Sacramento State pitchers have hit the fewest batters in the league and are allowing less than three walks per nine innings. The only team ahead of the Hornets in each of those pitching categories is Seattle U, who the Hornets host to close the regular season.
On Fire in the Desert
Senior Chris Lewis continued tearing the cover off the ball in the state of Arizona, hitting .462 with 2 home runs, a double, five RBIs, and four runs in the Grand Canyon series. In 19 career games played in the state of Arizona, Lewis is 31-for-75 (.413) with 16 RBIs and 15 runs scored on three home runs and eight doubles. In 10 career WAC Tournament games in Arizona - the host state for the league championship again this season - Lewis has hits in all 10 game and is 18-for-39 (.462) with 10 RBIs. He has been named to the all-WAC Tournament team twice and was the 2014 WAC Tournament MVP.
Curtains After Seven
Sacramento State is undefeated this season when leading after the seventh inning. The team is 21-0 when leading after seven innings and has just two losses this year when leading after six. The Hornets are also 5-0 in extra-inning games this year.
On Base in a Baker's Dozen
Sophomore Andrew McWilliam has reached base in 13 consecutive games played. He is hitting .294 during the stretch with a .373 on-base percentage and has six extra-base hits. McWilliam has hit four home runs in the last eight Sacramento State home games.
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 five earned runs in 39.2 innings pitched this year for a 1.13 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 27 games Beardsley has pitched this year the team has won 20 of them as he is 4-1 with nine saves, tied for the 48th best save total in NCAA Div. I.
Sacramento State is second in the WAC is 25th in NCAA Div. I with 49 double plays turned this year. The Hornets turned six double plays in the WAC series against both Chicago State and Grand Canyon and had five double plays vs. Utah Valley. Fourteen different players have been part of a defensive double play this season, including six pitchers.
The only fourth-year senior on the team, left fielder Chris Lewis is hitting .308 with four home runs and a team-high 36 RBIs this season. He also leads the team with 17 multi-hit games and nine 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 third in program history in career RBIs (130) and is fifth in doubles (47) and with 765 career at-bats.
The Hornets lead the WAC and are 26th in NCAA Div. I allowing just 2.99 walks per nine innings. Sunday starter Grant Kukuk is the stingiest Hornet in issuing walks, allowing only 1.45 walks per nine innings this year (43rd best in NCAA Div. I). Every Hornet starting pitcher and six relievers have more strikeouts than walks allowed this season.
Sacramento State leads the WAC and is 65th in the nation with 64 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 32 games this year with multiple steals in 13. Sacramento State finished second in the WAC with 79 steals last year.
The Hornets have outscored their opponents 57-37 in the first two innings of games this season. The team has a 25-21 edge in the first inning and a big 32-16 scoring advantage in the second inning. Sacramento State has scored in the first inning 17 times this year and has won 13 of those 17 games.
Putting the H in DH
Freshman designated hitter Matt Smith opened the season with a 16-game hitting streak, the second longest in the WAC this season, and later had an eight-game hitting streak in which he hit .452. Smith missed a week and a half after getting hit by a pitch March 6 but is hitting .296 on the year with 29 RBIs and 19 runs scored primarily hitting third in the Hornet batting order.
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 raising his batting average above .300 and he leads the team defensively as well, as among his 144 putouts this year are dozens of sensational catches that have saved several runs and he has two outfield assists.
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.
Junior catcher Gunner Pollman leads the WAC with 28 runners caught stealing this year, surpassing his 2015 WAC-leading total of 27 runners cut down. He has thrown out 12 more base stealers than any other WAC catcher 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, for the second straight season.