SACRAMENTO, Calif. - With just six Western Athletic Conference (WAC) games remaining in the regular season, Sacramento State (22-23, 7-11 WAC) plays an important three-game series at Chicago State (10-31, 6-9 WAC). Games are scheduled for 4 p.m. Pacific time Friday, 1 p.m. Pacific Saturday, and 10 a.m. Sunday.
- In his last five starts Sacramento State freshman Parker Brahms is 4-0 with a 1.07 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, and a .192 opposing batting average over 33.2 innings. The Hornets have won each of Brahms' last five starts, including wins over each of the top four teams in the current WAC standings.
- The Hornets are undefeated (10-0) all-time against Chicago State. Sacramento State has outscored the Cougars 70-18 in those 10 games, averaging 7.0 runs per game and recording three shutouts. The Hornets swept three games with Chicago State at home last season by a total score of 19-5.
- Sacramento State leads the WAC in nearly every pitching category including ERA (3.75), opposing batting average (.241), strikeout to walk ratio (2.17), WHIP (1.28), and hits allowed per nine innings (8.15). Hornet pitchers have also hit the second fewest batters and are third with 323 strikeouts.
- The Hornets are 7-11 in WAC play with two conference series remaining. Sacramento State enters the week in sixth place but four of the five teams ahead have played three less WAC games. The top six teams qualify for the WAC Tournament but league-leading Grand Canyon is still ineligible.
- Chicago State, which was unanimously picked to finish last in the preseason WAC Coaches poll, has just a 4-22 non-conference record but is a surprising 6-9 in WAC games. The Cougars, who have a 6.39 ERA and are hitting .249, have won at least one game in each of their other conference series.
Scouting Chicago State (10-31, 6-9 WAC)
Chicago State, which was unanimously picked to finish in last place in the preseason WAC Coaches poll, has just a 4-22 non-conference record but is a surprising 6-9 in WAC games. The Cougars, who are 2-11 in just 13 home games this season, won a WAC series at Seattle U and have won a game in each of their other conference series. Chicago State has a 6.39 ERA and is hitting just .249 as a team this season. The Cougars are last in the league in runs, hits, batting average, and fielding percentage but lead the WAC and rank eighth in NCAA Div. I with 1.10 double plays per game. The Cougars do not have a starter hitting .300, with Matt Sullivan leading the team at .298 and Jacob Vanitvelt hitting .288 with a team-high 28 RBIs. Sacramento State is 10-0 all-time against Chicago State but the teams have met in Chicago just once before in a three-game Hornet sweep in 2015.
Sacramento State is undefeated (10-0) all-time against Chicago State. The Hornets have outscored the Cougars 70-18 in those 10 games, averaging 7.0 runs per game and recording three shutouts. Sacramento State swept three games with Chicago State at home last season by a combined score of 19-5 with a 7-inning 10-0 mercy rule win.
In his last five starts Sacramento State freshman Parker Brahms is 4-0 with a 1.07 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, and a .192 opposing batting average over 33.2 innings. The Hornets have won each of Brahms' last five starts, including wins over each of the top four teams in the current WAC standings. He earned WAC Pitcher of the Week honors after throwing six shutout innings in a win at Seattle U, allowing just three singles and two walks with six strikeouts against the Redhawks while delivering his second shutout of the season. He scattered seven hits and allowed just one run in seven innings vs. CSU Bakersfield, which entered the series with the 10th best team batting average in NCAA Div. I.
Working the Field
Sacramento State leads the WAC while ranking 13th in NCAA Div. I with a .981 fielding percentage this season. The Hornets have 24 error-free games this season and have committed just 20 errors in 26 home games this year. The team has only 12 errors in 21 night games.
The Hornets are 7-11 in league play with two conference series remaining. Sacramento State enters the week in sixth place but four of the five teams ahead have played three less WAC games. The top six teams qualify for the WAC Tournament but league-leading Grand Canyon is still ineligible, meaning that only the bottom two teams in the final standings will not compete in the postseason.
The Hornets beat CSU Bakersfield 11-1 in eight innings last Saturday, handing the Roadrunners their first WAC 10-run rule loss since joining the conference in 2013. Vinny Esposito tied the program record with two triples in the game and Kody Reynolds matched the single-game record with three doubles, becoming the first Hornet in 16 years to record a three-double game. Esposito became the first player in program history to record two triples and a home run in the same game. The Hornets totaled nine extra-base hits on the night, winning by the mercy rule in the eighth on a three-run double from senior Brandon Hunley.
Over the last two weeks (10 games) Vinny Esposito and Kody Reynolds have combined for seven home runs, three triples, six doubles, and 21 RBIs batting third and fourth in the Hornet lineup. Esposito is hitting .439 in the stretch with three homers, two doubles, and three triples with a .489 on-base percentage and .854 slugging percentage while Reynolds has four home runs and four doubles and is hitting .341.
The Hornets lead the WAC in nearly every pitching category including ERA (3.75), opposing batting average (.241), strikeout to walk ratio (2.17), WHIP (1.28), and hits allowed per nine innings (8.15). Hornet pitchers have also hit the second fewest batters in the league (29) and are third with 323 strikeouts.
Liking the Lights
In their first full season under the lights at John Smith Field the Hornets are 11-7 in home night games and 15-7 overall at night this season. Sacramento State's pitching has been particularly impressive at night with a 2.75 ERA and .212 opposing batting average through 22 night games. Alex Dentoni and Tanner Olson have combined for 22.1 innings without allowing an earned run at night.
Vinny at the Bat
Vinny Esposito leads all WAC players with 26 RBIs in league games. Since the start of conference play on March 24 Esposito has hit .353 with seven home runs, six doubles, five triples, and 32 RBIs over 26 games. He is slugging .716 in the stretch and is 5-for-5 in stolen base attempts. He has tallied multiple hits in seven of the last 10 games.
Sacramento State has hit 12 home runs in the last 10 games. The Hornets recorded their first five-homer game since March 2014 in the 9-0 win at Seattle U and hit five homers over two games against San Francisco. Kody Reynolds and Vinny Esposito homered in both USF games and James Outman hit two long balls in the 9-0 win and as a team the Hornets have hit 25 homers over their last 23 contests. The squad ranks third in the WAC with 33 home runs this season.
Sacramento State had a string of 15 straight successful stolen base attempts and has been successful on 21 of its last 23 steal attempts. The Hornets lead the WAC with 49 stolen bases this year after leading the league and ranking 68th in the nation with 70 stolen bases last year. Ian Dawkins leads the team and is second on the WAC with 12 steals.
Three Two-Homer Games
James Outman became the third Hornet to record a two-homer game this year on April 22 at Seattle U. Andrew McWilliam hit two home runs in the first game of the doubleheader at Utah Valley on March 31 before Vinny Esposito hit a pair of two-run homers against Grand Canyon on April 8. The three 2-homer games equal the program's most in a season since the 2009 team had six such games.
Best in the WAC
Senior pitcher Justin Dillon leads the WAC in WHIP (0.94) and is second in strikeouts (76) and opposing batting average (.193). The Hornet senior ranks 26th in NCAA Div. I in WHIP and 44th in hits allowed per nine innings after leading the nation in both of those categories earlier this year. Dillon has allowed just 53 hits and 18 walks in 75.2 innings pitched.
Ian Does it All
Junior center fielder Ian Dawkins is the only Hornet that has started every game this season and has reached base in 40 of the 45 games. He reached in each of the first 13 games of the season and had a 14-game hitting streak into WAC play. He leads the team with 20 multi-hit games with a pair of four-hit contests. He is second in the WAC with 64 hits and second in the league with 12 stolen bases while playing outstanding defense with just one error. Dawkins is hitting .372 in WAC play.
First League Losses
In consecutive weeks Sacramento State handed a previously unbeaten, WAC-leading team its first conference loss. On April 8 Parker Brahms allowed just one run over 7.2 innings and Vinny Esposito hit a pair of 2-run homers as the Hornets handed Grand Canyon, which was 7-0 in WAC play, a 7-1 loss. Less than a week later Brahms pitched another gem, allowing just one unearned run in seven innings, and James Outman had a walk-off RBI single in the 12th when the Hornets beat New Mexico State 2-1, handing the Aggies their first league loss after also starting 7-0.
Walk It Off
Sacramento State picked up its third walk-off win beating CSU Bakersfield 11-1 in 8 innings via the WAC 10-run rule. The team's second walk-off win of the season was a 2-1 victory in 12 innings over New Mexico State when James Outman delivered the walk-off knock, singling up the middle to drive in Blake Edmonson from second base. Earlier this year the Hornets had a 6-5 walk-off victory over Northern Kentucky in 11 innings, winning on an infield single from Ian Dawkins.
Junior Tanner Olson and sophomore Alex Dentoni have anchored a strong Hornet bullpen this year. Dentoni is second on the team with five wins and leads the squad with three saves while posing a 2.10 ERA over 34.1 innings. Olson has made 26 pitching appearances this season and is 3-2 with a 2.16 ERA. Olson has walked only two batters this season while striking out 21 over 25.0 innings, allowing a run in just three of 26 appearances.