SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Sacramento State (10-8) plays eight of its next nine games on the road with a midweek contest at Wichita State (11-9) at 4 p.m. Pacific time Wednesday before opening WAC play Friday at Northern Colorado.
- Sacramento State played 13 of its first 18 games of the season at home but now enters a stretch with eight of nine games, including the first two WAC series, to be played on the road. The Hornets have two road wins this year and have won at least 10 road games in each of the last six seasons.
- Senior pitcher Justin Dillon leads NCAA Div. I with a 0.42 WHIP and 2.75 hits allowed per nine innings. The Hornet ace also leads the WAC with an 8.75 strikeout to walk ratio and just 1.00 walk allowed per nine innings, having allowed just 11 hits and four walks in 36.0 innings pitched.
- The Hornets used late-inning rallies to battle back from multiple-run deficits in consecutive wins last week. The team trailed 5-3 going to ninth at Nevada last Tuesday but rallied with four runs to win 7-5, and two days later Sacramento State scored three in the eighth to beat Minnesota, 3-2.
- Sacramento State has committed just five errors in the last 10 games and leads the WAC while ranking 13th in NCAA Div. I with a .982 fielding percentage this season. The team has committed multiple errors in just two games this year has only one player with more than one error all year.
- Wichita State plays at Oral Roberts Tuesday night before hosting the Hornets on Wednesday. The Shockers, who are 9-0 at home this season, have already played three other WAC teams this season and are 8-0 against the league, sweeping Utah Valley, Grand Canyon, and Northern Colorado.
Wednesday's game will stream live for free on HornetSports.com/Radio with Anthony Rifenburg providing the play-by-play call. Wichita State will also provide a free video stream available on WatchESPN.com. Links for the audio and video broadcasts 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 Wichita State (11-9)
Wichita State lost 7-4 at Oral Roberts on Tuesday before returning home to host the Hornets. The Shockers have already played three other WAC teams this season and are 8-0 against the league with sweeps of Utah Valley, Grand Canyon, and Northern Colorado. Wichita State, which is 9-0 at home this year with eight of those wins against WAC schools, also had a win at No. 13 Oklahoma but lost two of three at Cal Poly last week. The squad was picked to finish fourth in the preseason Missouri Valley Conference poll with infielders Luke Ritter and Alex Bohm named to the preseason all-conference team. Wichita State has recorded four shutouts and has a .239 opposing batting average but is hitting just .245 with a .331 on-base percentage. The Hornets and Shockers have met twice before with both meetings at tournaments in Hawaii and both won by WSU.
The Nation's Best
Senior pitcher Justin Dillon leads NCAA Div. I with a 0.42 WHIP and 2.75 hits allowed per nine innings. The Hornet senior also leads the WAC with an 8.75 strikeout to walk ratio and just 1.00 walk allowed per nine innings. Dillon has allowed just 11 hits and four walks in 36.0 innings pitched with 35 strikeouts and a .092 opposing batting average.
Hitting the Road
Sacramento State played 13 of its first 18 games of the season at home but now enters a stretch with eight of nine games, including the first two WAC series, to be played on the road. The Hornets have two road wins this year and have won at least 10 road games in each of the last six seasons.
The Hornets open Western Athletic Conference (WAC) play this week with the first of eight series against conference foes. Sacramento State is one of four teams in the league that will begin conference play with a winning record. The WAC has nine baseball-playing members this year, down one after North Dakota's program was discontinued following the 2016 season.
PJ Floyd has taken over as Sacramento State's starting second baseman and No. 2 hitter and has been outstanding, hitting .361 with two home runs, nine RBIs, and 10 runs scored in only 36 official at-bats. He is currently on a career-long seven game hitting streak and has reached base in 11 straight games. Floyd 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-5 in stolen base attempts and has four walks with a team-best .452 on-base percentage and .611 slugging percentage.
Working the Field
Sacramento State has committed just five errors in the last 10 games and leads the WAC while ranking 13th in NCAA Div. I with a .982 fielding percentage this season. The team has committed multiple errors in just two of 18 games this year and has only one player with more than one error all year.
Night More than Alright
In their first full season under the lights at John Smith Field the Hornets are 5-2 in home night game and 6-2 overall at night this season. Sacramento State's pitching has been particularly impressive at night with a 3.28 ERA and .193 opposing batting average through eight night games.
Beating the Big Guys
Penn State was the 11th Power 5 school that the Hornets have defeated in the last five seasons. The win over Minnesota was the team's second over the Gophers in four years as Sacramento State had at least one win against all four Power 5 teams it played this season (Washington, Washington State, Penn State, Minnesota). The Hornets also had wins over LSU, Auburn, Texas, Texas A&M, Arizona State, Oregon State, and Utah over the four previous seasons.
WHIP it Good
Sacramento State pitchers rank 12th in NCAA Div. I with a 1.13 WHIP (Walks and Hits per Innings Pitched) this season. The Hornets are also 18th nationally with 2.77 walks allowed per nine innings and 25th with 7.37 hits allowed per nine innings so far this season.
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.
Head Coach Reggie Christiansen is closing in on his 200th victory at Sacramento State, as in his seventh season he has a 197-179 record with the Hornets. Christiansen reached his 300th career victory in in just 12 years as a head coach when the Hornets beat Northern Kentucky on Feb. 26.
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 on Feb. 27.
Sacramento State leads the WAC in opposing batting average (.221), strikeout to walk ratio (2,72), WHIP (1.13), and walks allowed per nine innings (2.77) and is second in ERA (3.55) and hits allowed per nine innings (7.37). 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 17 runs batted in and is tied for fifth in the WAC with 1.00 RBI 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 has reached base in all but one game this season. He reached in each of the first 13 games of the season and is hitting .338 overall with a .424 on-base percentage. He leads the team with eight multi-hit games, including a four-hit game against Northern Kentucky.
Three Games, Three Wins
Sacramento State sophomore reliever Alex Dentoni earned the win in each of his first three pitching appearances as a Hornet. Dentoni picked up his first save last Tuesday and has a 2.30 ERA and .220 opposing batting average in seven appearances this season.
Freshman Parker Brahms has been nearly as good as Hornet ace Justin Dillon, making four quality starts in his first five games and tallying a 2.67 ERA and 1.05 WHIP. Brahms has 23 strikeouts and just nine walks in 30.1 innings pitched with a .207 opposing batting average. He 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.
Shining on the World Stage
Former Hornet shortstop Scotty Burcham was the starting shortstop for team Israel in the 2017 World Baseball Classic. Burcham started in all six of Israel's games, helping the country advance out of the first round in Seoul and beat Cuba in the second round in Tokyo before being eliminated. He hit .261 with two RBIs in the tournament, including a game-winning RBI single in the opener. In September Burcham, who plays in the Colorado Rockies organization, helped Israel win a WBC qualifying tournament in Brooklyn.