SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The Sacramento State baseball team kicks off Western Athletic Conference play this week as they travel to New Mexico to take on the New Mexico State Aggies in a three-game series starting Thursday.
First pitch on both Thursday and Friday is set for 5:05 pm PDT while Saturday's get-away game starts at 11:05 am PDT.
How To Listen
All three games at New Mexico State can be heard live online at HornetSports.com/Radio with baseball play-by-play broadcaster Anthony Rifenburg. Friday's game will stream online on the WAC Digital Network. Live stats will be available on HornetStats.com while in-game updates will be provided on Twitter, @SacStBaseball. All links can also be found by visiting the 2018 Baseball Schedule on HornetSports.com.
- This weekend's series against New Mexico State is Sacramento State's first against a WAC opponent this season. Last season, the Hornets finished 12-12 in regular season conference play before winning four straight in the WAC tournament to clinch the conference championship.
- Sacramento State will play five games over the next six days. The stretch starts with three games at New Mexico State on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. The team will have Sunday off before playing Saint Mary's in a home-and-home two-game set on Monday and Tuesday.
- Steven Moretto collected four RBIs in Sacramento State's last game at Utah. It is his third game this season with four or more RBIs. He drove in a career-best six on the road at UCSB earlier this season as a part of a 4-for-5 afternoon.
- Tanner Dalton has recorded a save in each of his last three outings. He has thrown 4.2 innings over those three appearances while allowing just two hits and one walk, and striking out six. His three saves lead the club and are tied for sixth most in the WAC.
- New Mexico State enters this weekend's series with a 15-10 overall record, including a 2-1 record in WAC play. They are hitting .332 as a team and own a 4.82 staff ERA. At home this season, the Aggies are 14-3.
By The Numbers
9: Straight road games for the Hornets before they return to Sacramento State, including this weekend's three games.
22: RBIs for Steven Moretto through 22 games, most on the club and sixth most in the conference.
12: Wins against WAC opponents last season. Thursday's game is Sacramento State's first conference game this year.
Scouting The Aggies
- New Mexico State enters the weekend with a 15-10 record, including a 2-1 WAC mark.
- NM State was picked to finish second in the conference with 54 points and two first place votes, just ahead of Sacramento State (51 points, 1 first place vote)
- As a team, the Aggies are hitting a conference-best .322. They also lead the WAC in slugging (.539), on-base percentage (.443), runs scored (243), hits (284), RBIs (224), doubles (55), home runs (34), walks (127), and more.
- New Mexico State entered the 2018 campaign with both the WAC Pitcher and Player of the year, RHP Kyle Bradish and C Mason Fishback, respectively.
- In addition to Bradish and Fishback, both Joey Ortiz and Tristen Carranza were named to the WAC Preseason Team.
Against New Mexico State
Sacramento State is 38-33 all-time against New Mexico State, dating back to the 1997 season. Last year, the Hornets dropped two-of-three to the Aggies at home at John Smith Field. Over the last two seasons, Sacramento State is just 1-6 against the Aggies, though they won nine straight against New Mexico State from 2013-2015.
This weekend's games are the first Western Athletic Conference games of the season for Sacramento State. They are the only team to enter the weekend without a conference game under the belt, playing Utah last weekend while the rest of the conference got started against each other.
Last season, Sacramento State went 12-12 in WAC play, good for a third-place finish at the end of the regular season. The Hornets rolled through the WAC Tournament, however, ripping off four straight postseason wins en route to their second WAC Championship title in the last four seasons. Over the last six seasons, Sacramento State is a combined 91-70 in WAC play. The Hornets have not had a losing record in conference play since 2011.
Steven Moretto paced the offense in Sacramento State's last game, a 7-6 loss at Utah. The freshman third baseman went 3-for-5 with four RBI and a home run in the loss. It was his third game this season with four or more RBIs. He had a career-high six RBIs in the Hornets' win over UCSB on March 16. Moretto has two or more RBIs in five games this season, most on the club. His 22 total RBIs lead Sacramento State.
More On RBIs
With 22 RBIs on the season, Steven Moretto is sixth in the WAC. The top five RBI guys in the conference are all members of the New Mexico State ball club, led by Mason Fishback (32). James Outman, who has 17 RBIs, is second on the team.
Outman Outta Here
James Outman homered on Saturday, giving him five on the season. Through 22 games, the junior slugger is already almost half way to his total of 11 home runs last season. He leads the Hornets (Steven Moretto has four) and is tied for second in the conference.
Bumpy Starts for Brahms
After starting the season with an 0.00 ERA through his first five starts (28.0 innings), sophomore starter Parker Brahms has allowed 11 runs (nine earned) in his last two outings while throwing just seven total innings. He allowed eight and nine hits in his last two starts, respectively, after never allowing more than four in any of his previous starts. Last year's WAC Freshman of the Year, Brahms will look to right the ship as he heads into conference play, where he was 5-1 with a 2.09 ERA in eight starts last season.
Sacramento State scored has scored first in nine of their last 10 games, including a stretch of eight straight. Despite getting ahead to early leads, the Hornets are just 4-5 in those nine games. For the season, Sacramento State has scored first 14 times and are an even .500 (7-7).
More Lefties, Please
Sacramento State has fared exceptionally well against left-handed pitchers this season, going 4-1 (.800) in games in which they face a southpaw starter. They are just 5-12 (.294) against right-handers. Despite the discrepancy in winning percentages, the Hornets hit left-handers and right-handers almost exactly the same, batting .228 against lefties and .226 against righties.
Keep Them Under Six
When the Hornets allow their opponents to score six or more runs, they are 0-9 this season. When they limit their opponent to five runs or fewer, however, they are 9-4.
Moving Right Along
The Sacramento State offense has done well this season in playing small ball, advancing runners when they have opportunities. As a team, the Hornets are successfully advancing runners in 44.1% of their opportunities this season. Vinny Esposito and Steven Moretto lead the team, successfully moving runners over in 51.2% of their opportunities.
The Hornets have done well protecting late leads this season, posting an 8-1 record when leading after eight innings. They are 7-2 when leading after six innings. On the opposite side, Sacramento State has just one comeback win when trailing after eight innings (1-8).
New Closer in Town
Right-handed pitcher Tanner Dalton has received the ball in each of Sacramento State's last three save opportunities and has converted all three. The junior hurler has thrown 4.2 innings over those three appearances while allowing just two hits and one walk, and striking out six. His three saves lead the club and are tied for sixth most in the WAC.
A Full Slate
Starting with Thursday's game at New Mexico State, the Hornets will play five games in a span of six days, including four on the road. After this weekend's three-game series in Las Cruces, Sacramento State will have Sunday off for Easter before hosting Saint Mary's on Monday. They will immediately turn around and travel to Moraga for a Tuesday night game at Saint Mary's. Looking even further, the Hornets will play nine games over the next 13 days.
On The Road
Sacramento State concludes a stretch of nine straight road games with three games at New Mexico State this weekend. So far this season, the Hornets are 4-6 when playing away from John Smith Field. As a team, they are hitting .249 on the road while averaging 5.5 runs per game. 11 of their home runs have come on the road, as well. All of those numbers are higher than their home versions, where the Hornets are hitting .208, average 3.5 runs per game, and have hit three home runs in 11 games.
McWilliam At The Plate
After missing the season's first seven games, designated hitter Andrew McWilliam has started or appeared in 11 of the team's last 15 games as either the designated hitter or a pinch hitter. Delayed by injury, McWilliam started the season slow, hitting just .111 over his first six games. Over his last six, however, the McWilliam is 11-for-22 (.500) with a .556 obp and a .773 slugging percentage. He has three doubles, one home run, and five RBIs over that stretch.
Sophomore outfielder Matt Smith is expected to return to the Sacramento State lineup this weekend after missing the team's last seven games. Smith, who was injured in a play at the plate (foot) against Santa Clara on March 10, was hitting .255 with a .364 OBP before missing time.
With the MLB regular season set to being Thursday, former Hornet slugger Rhys Hoskins is expected to make the Opening Day roster for the Philadelphia Phillies. If he does, he will be the first Sacramento State player to make a Major League opening day roster. Hoskins made his Major League debut last season with the Phillies on August 10 of the 2017 season and went on to hit .259 with 18 home runs and 48 RBIs in 50 games. He was drafted in the fifth round (142nd overall) of the 2014 MLB June Amateur Draft.
Sacramento State Stealers
Sacramento State is 36-for-45 (80%) in stolen base attempts this season, leading the WAC in the category and ranking 30th in all of NCAA Div. I baseball. They are 36 steals back of national leader Southern Louisiana (72). James Outman leads the team with 10 steals in 10 attempts while Matt Smith is second with eight. Outman and Smith rank first and second in the conference, respectively, in stolen bases. Nine different Hornets players have swiped a bag this season, including seven who have stolen at least two (Steven Moretto, Outman, Smith, Vinny Esposito, Ian Dawkins, PJ Floyd, Alec de Watteville).
WAC Preseason Coach Poll
The Hornets were picked to finish third in the WAC in the 2018 Preseason Coaches Poll. They received 51 points, including one first place vote, finishing behind first-place Grand Canyon (61 points, five votes) and New Mexico State (54 points, two votes). The rest of the conference breaks down as follows: 4. Seattle U (46), 5. CSU Bakersfield (32), 6. Utah Valley (30), 7. UT Rio Grande Valley (23), 8. Northern Colorado (19), 9. Chicago State (8).
All-Conference Preseason Team
Sacramento State had three players named to the 2018 All-WAC Preseason Team, the most since they had five named to the 2015 team. This year's trio is Vinny Esposito (First Base), Ian Dawkins (Outfield), and James Outman (Outfield). The selection is Esposito's second (also 2016).
Six Times Thirty
With 32 wins in 2017, Sacramento State recorded its sixth consecutive 30-win season, the longest such streak since a string of nine straight 30-win seasons from 1985-1993. The team has also recorded double-digit conference wins in each of the last six years.
Best In the West
Sacramento State and baseball powerhouse Cal State Fullerton are the only two NCAA Div. I baseball programs in California to have won 30 or more games in each of the last six seasons. They have just 35 fewer wins during that stretch than Cal State Fullerton.
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