SACRAMENTO, Calif. - After winning its second WAC Tournament in the last four years Sacramento State (32-27) makes its second Div. I NCAA Regional appearance starting Thursday night at Stanford. The No. 4 seed for the regional, the Hornets will face host No. 1-seed Stanford (40-14) at 6 p.m. Thursday night No. 2 Cal State Fullerton and No. 3 BYU play the first game of the regional at 1 p.m. The double-elimination regional runs through at least Saturday.
- Sacramento State will be making its second ever appearance in the Div. I NCAA Regionals after winning the WAC Tournament for the second time in the last four seasons. The 2014 team made the program's first appearance in the Div. I NCAA Regionals and eliminated Arizona State.
- The Hornets dominated the WAC Tournament, going 4-0 to win the title as the No. 3 seed. The Hornets outscored their opponents 36-8, scoring in double-digits in each of their first three games. Justin Dillon was named Tournament MVP while four other Hornets made the All-Tournament team.
- Sacramento State enters the NCAA Regionals on an eight-game winning streak. During the streak the Hornets have hit .344 with 10 home runs and a .540 slugging percentage. The pitching staff has a 3.21 ERA and .238 opposing batting average as the team has outscored their opponents 72-32.
- The Hornets lead the WAC in nearly every pitching category including ERA (3.80), opposing batting average (.247), strikeout to walk ratio (2.23), WHIP (1.28), and hits allowed per nine innings (8.40). Hornet pitchers have also hit the second fewest batters and are third with 402 strikeouts.
- Sacramento State has not played any of its three regional opponents in this decade. The squad is 13-19 all-time against Stanford but the teams have not played since 2009. The No. 8 national seed, Stanford is 40-14 overall with a 23-7 home record this season and has won 21 of its last 23 games.
All Sacramento State NCAA Regional games will stream live on HornetSports.com/Radio with Andrew Tomsky and Brian Berger on the play-by-play call. All Stanford Regional games will also be video streamed on WatchESPN.com and the ESPN App with Steve Lenox and J.T. Snow on the broadcast. Links for the 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.
Hornets Going Dancing
Sacramento State will be making its second ever appearance in the Div. I NCAA Regionals after winning the WAC Tournament for the second time in the last four seasons. The 2014 team won the first WAC Tournament title in program history and made the program's first appearance in the Div. I NCAA Regionals. The Hornets played in the San Luis Obispo regional and defeated No. 18 Arizona State for their 40th win of the season. Sacramento State previously qualified for the NCAA Div. II regionals four times, reaching the Div. II College World Series in 1986 and 1988.
Sacramento State dominated the WAC Tournament, going 4-0 to win the title as the No. 3 seed. The Hornets outscored their opponents 36-8, scoring in double-digits in each of their first three games in Mesa. The team's 11-1 run-rule win in seven innings over Seattle U was just the second such game at the WAC Tournament since 2008. Sacramento State hit .333 in the tournament with seven home runs, 11 doubles, and two triples. The pitching staff had a 2.12 ERA, more than two runs better than any other team, with a .226 opposing batting average.
SAC vs. The Field
Sacramento State has not played any of its three regional opponents in this decade. The Hornets have played 32 previous games against Stanford with a 13-19 all-time record, but the teams have not played since 2009. Sacramento State and BYU have met just once before in a 16-2 Hornet win at home. The Hornets are 6-16 all-time against Cal State Fullerton but the squads haven't met since 2002.
The Hornets enter the NCAA Regionals on an eight-game winning streak and won each of their last nine games of the year against WAC opponents. Sacramento State won its series finale at San Diego before sweeping three games vs. UT Rio Grande Valley and going 4-0 in the WAC Tournament. Over the last eight games the Hornets have hit .344 as a team with 10 home runs and a .540 slugging percentage. The pitching staff has a 3.21 ERA and .238 opposing batting average as the Hornets have outscored their opponents 72-32 during the streak.
Scouting the Regional
Stanford is the No. 8 national seed, being recognized as the eighth best team in the country. The Cardinal are 40-14 this season and have won 21 of their last 23 games. Cal State Fullerton finished third in the Big West going 34-21 overall and 15-9 in league play and BYU won the West Coast Conference tournament and is 37-19 on the season.
WAC Tournament MVP
Senior pitcher Justin Dillon was named WAC Tournament MVP as he was 2-0 and allowed just one run on six hits with 12 strikeouts over 12 innings in two starts. He pitched five shutout innings on short rest in the championship game, allowing just one hit and one walk with six strikeouts against a CSU Bakersfield team that ranks 17th in NCAA Div. I with a .310 team batting average this season. He went the distance in the team's 11-1 seven-inning win over Seattle U, permitting just one run on five hits. He had a 0.75 ERA, 0.75 WHIP, and .158 opposing batting average in the tournament and became the second WAC Tournament MVP in program history following Chris Lewis in 2014.
All-WAC Tournament History
The Hornets had a program-record five players named to the All-WAC Tournament team. Justin Dillon was the Tournament MVP while seniors Trent Goodrich and Kody Reynolds, junior Andrew McWilliam, and sophomore James Outman were also named to the team. Sacramento State previously had four All-WAC Tournament selections in 2012 and 2014.
Senior Kody Reynolds could have also easily been named WAC Tournament MVP after the designated hitter hit .533 with two home runs, two doubles, and 10 RBIs in four games. Reynolds was 3-for-4 with two RBIs in the title game, recording his third multi-RBI game of the tournament. He homered in each of the first two games of the tournament and drove in multiple runs in the first inning in both games while totaling a 1.067 slugging percentage.
With 28 strikeouts in four WAC Tournament games Sacramento State pitchers established a new Div. I program record with 402 strikeouts this season. The Hornets topped the previous high of 395 with eight punch outs in the title game on Saturday. The team is just 21 strikeouts shy of the overall program record of 423 strikeouts, set by the Div. II College World Series team in 1988.
WAC Freshman of the Year
Sacramento State had the WAC Freshman of the Year for the fourth time in the last six seasons as starting pitcher Parker Brahms earned the 2017 honor, following Rhys Hoskins (2012). Chris Lewis (2013), and Sam Long (2014). Brahms is 8-3 with a 3.01 ERA during an outstanding rookie season. He ended the regular season leading the league with a 2.68 ERA and was second among all WAC pitchers in opposing batting average (.220) and WHIP (1.06). In regular season WAC play Brahms went 5-1 with a 2.09 ERA and .207 opposing batting average with the team winning seven of his eight WAC starts.
Joining Brahms on the All-WAC First team was junior Ian Dawkins while senior Trent Goodrich and junior Vinny Esposito were named to the second team. Dawkins has tied the program record with 28 multi-hit games this season and has reached base in all but five games this season while hitting .341. Esposito tied for the WAC lead with 33 RBIs in conference games and has 10 home runs and 52 RBIs on the season while Goodrich hit .309 with 15 RBIs and 14 runs in WAC play while ranking among the top defensive shortstops in Div. I.
Liking the Lights
Sacramento State will be happy to open NCAA Regional play with a 6 p.m. start as, in their first full season under the lights at John Smith Field, the Hornets were 13-7 in home night games and are 20-10 overall at night this season. Sacramento State's pitching has been particularly impressive at night with a 2.97 ERA and .227 opposing batting average through 30 night games. Vinny Esposito is hitting .343 with five home runs and 27 RBIs in 26 night games played this year. The Hornets are also 32-for-39 in steals at night.
Ian Does it All
Junior center fielder Ian Dawkins has tied the program record with 28 multi-hit games this season. He is currently on a 22-game reach base streak and is the only Hornet that has started every game this season, reaching base in 54 of the 59 games. He had a 14-game hitting streak into WAC play and has had three total hitting streaks that went more than 10 games. Among his 28 multi-hit games are six three-hit games and two four-hit games. He is tied for second in the WAC with 80 hits this season and is fourth in the league with 14 stolen bases. He has also played outstanding playing outstanding defense in center field with just one error and three outfield assists.
Six Times Thirty
Sacramento State secured its sixth consecutive 30-win season with its second win at the WAC Tournament. The current streak is the longest such streak since a string of nine straight 30-win seasons from 1985-1993. The team also recorded double-digit conference wins in each of the last six years.
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, and Fresno State.
Working the Field
Sacramento State leads the WAC while ranking 31st in NCAA Div. I with a .978 fielding percentage this season. The Hornets have 29 error-free games this season. The single season program record for fielding percentage is .979, first recorded in 2012 and matched in 2013.
He Is Root
In his last 20 relief appearances dating back to the start of conference play, junior Austin Root has a 0.84 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, and .205 opposing batting average with just three earned runs allowed over 32.0 innings. He has a 23-4 strikeout to walk ratio in the stretch and in nine relief appearances in WAC play he had a 0.60 ERA with just one earned run allowed and 11 strikeouts in 15.0 innings. Root has allowed an earned run in just three of his last 20 relief outings and has a win and three saves in his last five appearances.
The Hornets lead the WAC in nearly every pitching category including ERA (3.80), opposing batting average (.247), strikeout to walk ratio (2.23), WHIP (1.28), and hits allowed per nine innings (8.40). Hornet pitchers have also hit the second fewest batters in the league (40) and are third with 402 strikeouts.
All-Time Appearance Leader
Senior pitcher Chad Perry has broken the program record with 99 career pitching appearances. Perry topped the previous program record of 91 career appearances set by Brandon Creel from 2010-13. Perry's 33 appearances last season tied for second most in a year in program history and he has pitched in at least 16 games in each of his four seasons as a Hornet. Perry has made three career starts with 96 games out of the bullpen and has a 7-3 all-time record with three saves and 79 strikeouts to 57 walks.
Vinny at the Bat
Vinny Esposito leads the Hornets with five triples and is tied for the team lead with 52 RBIs with 10 homers and a .532 slugging percentage this season. Since the start of conference play on March 24 Esposito has hit .352 with nine home runs, seven doubles, five triples, and 47 RBIs over 40 games. He is slugging .630 in the stretch and is 9-for-9 in stolen base attempts.
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 in the four previous seasons.
With a win in the finale at San Diego the Hornets finished the regular season with a winning non-conference record for the first time since the 2013 season. Sacramento State was 16-15 in non-conference games, winning series over Washington State and Northern Kentucky and also recording wins over high level programs including No. 11 Washington, Minnesota, Penn State, Wichita State, Nevada, and San Diego. Of the 12 non-conference teams the Hornets played they had wins over 11, with Fresno State being the only outlier.
Sacramento State has hit 26 home runs in the last 24 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. The team hit seven home runs in four WAC Tournament games, with James Outman homering in each of the first three contests in Mesa. The team's 47 home runs this year are the most in a season since the 2010 team hit 48.