SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Sacramento State (9-6) plays its fourth home series of the season hosting Big 10 foe Minnesota (9-7) in its final series before the start of Western Athletic Conference (WAC) play next week. The Hornets will host the Golden Gophers at 6 p.m. Thursday and Friday and 2 p.m. Saturday at John Smith Field.
- Senior pitcher Justin Dillon leads NCAA Div. I with a 0.28 WHIP and 1.55 hits allowed per nine innings. The Hornet ace also leads the WAC with a 10.00 strikeout to walk ratio and just 0.93 walks allowed per nine innings, having allowed just five hits and three walks in 29.0 innings pitched.
- Sacramento State's 7-1 win at No. 11 Washington gave the program a win over a top-20 team for the fourth consecutive season. The Hornets now have seven total wins over ranked teams in the last four seasons and the team has defeated 11 different Power 5 schools in the last five years.
- In 10 games and six starts this year junior second baseman PJ Floyd is hitting .417 with two home runs, eight RBIs, and nine runs scored in only 24 at-bats. He homered in the ninth inning in both games of Sacramento State's doubleheader at No. 11 Washington and is 4-for-4 in stolen bases.
- Sacramento State sent eight men to the plate and scored four runs on five hits in the top of the ninth inning to rally from a 5-3 deficit to a 7-5 win at Nevada on Tuesday. The Hornets opened the inning with three straight hits to tie the game and with two out Ian Dawkins and PJ Floyd had RBI hits.
- Minnesota, which ranks ninth in NCAA Div. I in fielding percentage, began its trip to California with a 7-1 loss on Wednesday night at Cal. Sacramento State will be hosting Minnesota for the second time in the last four seasons, having also played the Golden Gophers in a home series in 2014.
All Sacramento State home games stream live for free on HornetSports.com/Radio with Anthony Rifenburg and Noah Alvarez providing the play-by-play call. Links for the audio broadcast and live stats are available above and on the baseball schedule page on hornetsports.com. Follow @SacStBaseball on twitter for in-game updates and see more on the official team pages on facebook and instagram.
Scouting Minnesota (9-7)
Minnesota began its trip to California with a 7-1 loss on Wednesday night at Cal. The game was just the third road contest of the season for the Golden Gophers, who played 13 home games in U.S. Bank Stadium, the new home of the Minnesota Vikings. Each of the team's first six road games of the year will be in California, as Minnesota opened the season splitting a pair of games at UC Irvine. Minnesota is one of the best fielding teams in NCAA Div. I with a .984 fielding percentage, 9th best in the nation, and the Gophers also lead the Big 10 in hits (95) and triples (12). Minnesota has a 4.81 team ERA and is hitting .273, with Luke Petersen hitting a team-best .423. Closer Brian Glowicki has five saves with 10 strikeouts and no walks in 8.2 innings pitched. After this weekend Minnesota and Sacramento State will have played 10 games all-time with all 10 in Sacramento.
Rally in Reno
Sacramento State sent eight men to the plate and scored four runs on five hits in the top of the ninth inning to rally from a 5-3 deficit to a 7-5 win at Nevada on Tuesday. The Hornets opened the inning with three straight hits to tie the game, then with two outs Ian Dawkins and PJ Floyd had RBI hits to give the Hornets a 2-run lead. The Hornets trailed 4-1 before recording an out in the bottom of the first but their pitchers permitted just four hits and one more run the rest of the way before the offense rallied.
The Nation's Best
Senior pitcher Justin Dillon leads NCAA Div. I with a 0.28 WHIP and 1.55 hits allowed per nine innings. The Hornet senior also leads the WAC with a 10.00 strikeout to walk ratio and just 0.93 walks allowed per nine innings. Dillon has allowed just five hits and three walks in 29.0 innings pitched with 30 strikeouts and a .054 opposing batting average.
Beating the Big Guys
Penn State was the 11th Power 5 school that the Hornets have defeated in the last five seasons. Minnesota will be the last of four Power 5 schools the Hornets face this season as the team already has Power 5 wins this year over Washington, Washington State, and Penn State. The Hornets also had wins over LSU, Auburn, Texas, Texas A&M, Arizona State, Oregon State, Utah, and Minnesota in the last four years.
In 10 games and six starts this season junior second baseman PJ Floyd is hitting .417 with two home runs, eight RBIs, and nine runs scored in only 24 at-bats. He homered in the ninth inning in both games of Sacramento State's doubleheader at No. 11 Washington, hitting a pinch-hit 3-run homer in the ninth inning to force extra innings in game one and a 2-run homer in the ninth in game two to pull the Hornets within a 3-2 deficit. Floyd also leads the team going 4-for-4 in stolen base attempts and has four walks with a .517 on-base percentage and .792 slugging percentage.
Sacramento State will be hosting Minnesota for the second time in the last four seasons, having also played the Golden Gophers in a home series in 2014. The Hornets and Gophers have played seven games all-time and all of them have been in Sacramento. The 2017 series was scheduled to be played in Minneapolis but moved to Sacramento due to field availability as Minnesota's new stadium is being completed.
Through the Ranks
Sacramento State's 7-1 win at No. 11 Washington gave the program a win over a top-20 team for the fourth consecutive season. The Hornets now have seven total wins over ranked teams in the last four seasons. The squad beat No. 4 Oregon State, No. 18 Arizona State, No. 21 Texas A&M, and No. 24 Fresno State in 2014 and topped No. 18 UC Santa Barbara and No. 5 LSU in the last two years. The team was also an out away from a win at No. 5 Texas Tech and pushed No. 15 Iowa to 18 innings in a narrow loss in 2015.
WHIP it Good
Sacramento State pitchers rank 7th in NCAA Div. I with a 1.03 WHIP (Walks and Hits per Innings Pitched) this season. Just five schools have a WHIP below one but the Hornets are close. The Hornets are also 11th nationally with 2.46 walks allowed per nine innings and 13th with 6.85 hits allowed per nine innings and so far this season.
Sacramento State's 7-1 record through eight games was its best start to a season in the program's Div. I history. Over the first eight games the Hornets averaged seven runs per game and held the opposition to a .184 batting average with a 2.43 team ERA. With the strong start the Hornets received votes in the NCBWA national Top-25 poll released on Feb. 27.
Sacramento State leads the WAC in virtually every pitching category, including ERA (3.19), WHIP (1.03), opposing batting average (.208), strikeout to walk ratio (3.24), walks allowed per nine innings (2.46), and hits allowed per nine innings (6.85). In 2016 the team was second in the WAC in ERA, WHIP, and opposing batting average and issued the third fewest walks.
Outman Brings Them In
Sophomore James Outman leads the team with 16 runs batted in and ranks second in the WAC with 1.14 RBIs per game. Outman has four multi-RBI games with three 3-RBI games and a 4-RBI performance. He totaled 11 RBIs in the Northern Kentucky series with 10 runs driven in over the last three games.
Penn State was the last of three straight first time series opponents for the Hornets. The series with Penn State and Northern Kentucky were not only the first meetings between the teams but also Sacramento State's first games in program history against any school from the states of Pennsylvania and Kentucky.
Senior Justin Dillon threw the first no-hitter in Sacramento State's Div. I history on Feb. 23 in a 2-0 shutout of Northern Kentucky. He issued just one walk and had a career-high 13 strikeouts, facing just two batters over the minimum with a walk in the fifth inning and a Hornet fielding error in the ninth. He was dominant right from the start, striking out the first five batters he faced and not allowing a base runner before NKU second baseman Kyle Colletta drew a two-out walk in the fifth inning. Dillon struck out at least one batter in six of nine innings, including two strikeouts in the ninth. In all he got 10 ground ball outs, three fly outs, and a soft line out to shortstop to go with his 13 strikeouts.
After his no-hitter Justin Dillon was named the Div. I National Pitcher of the Week by the NCBWA, Perfect Game, and College Sports Madness and was the first player listed on Collegiate Baseball's National Player of the Week list. Dillon was also WAC Pitcher of the Week and Federated Insurance Sacramento State Student-Athlete of the Week.
Hitting in the leadoff spot junior center fielder Ian Dawkins reached base in each of the first 13 games of the season. He had at least one hit and one run scored in five straight games and, in his first season with the Hornets, is hitting .355 overall with a .444 on-base percentage and has eight multi-hit games, including a four-hit game against Northern Kentucky.
Three Games, Three Wins
Sacramento State sophomore reliever Alex Dentoni is tied for 18th in NCAA Div. I with three victories, having earned the win in each of his first three pitching appearances. Dentoni picked up his first save on Tuesday and has a 2.13 ERA over 12.2 innings pitched.
Freshman Parker Brahms has been nearly as good as Hornet ace Justin Dillon, making four quality starts and tallying a 1.93 ERA and 0.82 WHIP through his first four collegiate starts. Brahms has 21 strikeouts and just five walks in 28.0 innings pitched with a .180 opposing batting average. He took a no-decision in his first start but earned his first collegiate win allowing just three hits and one walk with nine strikeouts in seven shutout innings in the 10-0 Hornet victory over Northern Kentucky.
Happy at Home
The Hornets have had winning home records in four straight seasons and are 70-31 at home over the last five years. The team is 7-3 at home this year and has had at least 16 home wins in five straight seasons.
Another Power 5 Series Win
Sacramento State recorded a season-opening series win over a Power 5 team for the third straight season, taking 2-of-3 games vs. Washington State. The Hornets won 2-of-3 games at Auburn last year after opening 2015 taking 3-of-4 games at home vs. Utah. The Hornets also split their season-opening series against Utah in 2014.
Shining on the World Stage
Former Hornet shortstop Scotty Burcham is on the roster for team Israel in the 2017 World Baseball Classic. Burcham started at shortstop in Israel's first game against host Korea and drove in the winning run in the 10th inning and then had another hit in Israel's 15-7 win over Chinese Taipie. Burcham helped Israel advance to the second round, which is taking place this week in Tokyo. In September Burcham, who plays in the Colorado Rockies organization, helped Israel win a WBC qualifying tournament in Brooklyn, hitting 5-for-11 (.455) with a double and three runs scored.
Sacramento State is second in the WAC with 17 stolen bases after leading the league and ranking 68th in the nation with 70 stolen bases last year. The Hornets had at least one steal in 36 games last year with multiple steals in 15. Sacramento State has had a steal in 10 games this year and was a perfect 5-for-5 in stolen base attempts in the Penn State series. PJ Floyd leads the Hornets with four steals while five other players have two steals.
Head Coach Reggie Christiansen reached his 300th career victory in the win over Northern Kentucky on Feb, 26. He is also closing in on his 200th victory at Sacramento State, as in his seventh season he has a 196-177 record with the Hornets.
California is among the strongest states in the nation for Div. I baseball, and over the last five years the Hornets rank among the best teams in the state. Among 24 Division-I baseball teams in California, the Hornets recorded the 7th most wins over the last five years. The team won 168 total games from 2012-16, more than several perennial postseason qualifiers including Pepperdine, Stanford, Long Beach State, Cal, USC, and Fresno State.