SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The Sacramento State baseball team opens the week with a two-day, two-game home-and-home series against the Saint Mary's Gaels. The week starts with a home contest on Monday at John Smith Field before the Hornets travel to Moraga for a Tuesday afternoon matchup.
First pitch on Monday is set for 6:00 pm PDT while Tuesday's game will get underway at 3:00 pm PDT.
How To Listen
Both games against Saint Mary's can be heard live online at HornetSports.com/Radio with baseball play-by-play broadcaster Anthony Rifenburg. 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 week's home-and-home series against the Gaels includes the make up date for Tuesday, March 20th's rained out game, originally scheduled at Saint Mary's. Instead of two games 14 days apart, the two teams will now play on back-to-back nights.
- With two games this week against Saint Mary's, Sacramento State will have played five games in the last six days. Looking ahead at next weekend's home series against Chicago State, the Hornets will have played eight games in 11 days.
- Austin Root tossed eight innings of one-run ball on Saturday at New Mexico State. The senior right-hander held the conference's top offense to just five total hits while shutting them out for seven innings. Root improved to 4-2 with the win.
- Matt Smith returned to action this last weekend, starting all three games after missing the team's last seven. He went 6-for-13 with four RBIs over the series while recording three hits in back-to-back games.
- Saint Mary's enters this two-game set with a 15-10 overall record, including a 5-4 mark in WCC play. They are hitting .255 as a team while their pitching staff owns a sparkling 2.68 team ERA.
By The Numbers
6: Hits in the last two games for Matt Smith. He missed 10 games with injury but is 6-for-13 in three games since returning.
24: RBIs for Steven Moretto through 22 games, most on the club and fifth most in the conference.
2: Starts in which Austin Root has thrown eight innings. No other Hornets pitcher has thrown more than seven.
Scouting The Gaels
- Saint Mary's enters the weekend with a 15-10 record, including a 5-4 WCC mark.
- As a team, the Gaels are hitting .255 with a .362 team on-base percentage.
- Their pitching staff owns superb 2.68 ERA and a .232 batting average against.
- The Gaels, who were picked to finish third in the WCC, lead the conference in ERA, OBP, strikeout-to-walk ratio (3.25), and walks per nine innings (2.82).
- Offensively, Saint Mary's is led by Austin Chavin, who leads the team with a .291 batting average and 13 RBIs. On the mound, Ken Waldichuk leads the rotation with an incredible 0.74 ERA and a 4-1 record. He is among the best in the conference in walks, strikeout-to-walk ratio, strikeouts, and WHIP.
Against Saint Mary's
Sacramento State is 36-35-1 all-time against Saint Mary's, dating back to the 1986 season. Although the two teams were scheduled to face each other two weeks ago in Moraga, that game was postponed due to inclement weather. The Hornets and Gaels have not faced each other since the 2013 season when Sacramento State went 3-0 against the Gaels. Sacramento State last lost at home to Saint Mary's in 2012 (2/20, L, 7-2).
Familiar with the WCC
Through 25 games this season, Sacramento State has played nine against West Coast Conference teams (two vs. San Francisco, one vs. Pacific, two vs. Gonzaga, four vs. Santa Clara) and are 2-7 in those games. With Monday and Tuesday's games against Saint Mary's, the Hornets will have played over a third of their games (11 of 27) against WCC opponents. With another game against Pacific this season, Sacramento State will have played 12 games against the WCC. Last year, the Hornets played just six games against WCC opponents, going 2-4.
About Last Weekend
Sacramento State won two-of-three on the road at a high-powered New Mexico State Aggies team last weekend to open their WAC schedule for the 2018 season. The Hornets held the Aggies to just over four runs per game, despite NM State averaging nearly 10 runs per game over the course of the season. Austin Root dazzled with eight excellent innings on Saturday while Dylan McPhillips and PJ Floyd both homered in the series.
Conference Starting Right
After starting the WAC schedule with a tough three-loss series at Northern Colorado last season, Sacramento State bounced back to open their 2018 conference schedule with a series win in New Mexico State. Sacramento State has won their conference-opening series in four of the last five seasons.
Dentoni on the Bump
Right-hander Alex Dentoni is expected to start Monday against Saint Mary's. For Dentoni, it will be the first start of his Hornets career. He has appeared in eight games so far this season and has thrown three or more innings three times, including a career-high 5.1 innings on the road at UC Santa Barbara.
Root On A Roll
Senior right-hander Austin Root went eight innings in his last start, allowing just one run on five hits as he recorded his fourth win of the season. It was the second time this year that Root has pitched eight innings (last, 3/4/18 vs. Milwaukee). He had nearly identical lines in those two games. In five of his seven starts this season, Root has gone 5.0+ innings while allowing one run or fewer.
Steven Moretto drove in two more runs last weekend at New Mexico State, bringing his team-leading total to 24 on the season. The true freshman is fifth in the WAC with 24 RBIs. He drove in a career-high six RBIs and has knocked in seven in his last five games.
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.
McPhillips Hits First Career Homer
Freshman catcher Dylan McPhillips launched his first career home run on Saturday, March 31 in Sacramento State's 6-2 win over New Mexico State. McPhillips, who was recruited as an infielder and transitioned to catcher last fall, has started 20 of 25 games for Sacramento State, including the last 12 straight. He is hitting .221 for the season and has knocked in four.
With a hit in each of last weekend's three games, Ian Dawkins has now hit safely in nine straight games, the longest streak for a Hornets player this season (previous, 8, Steven Moretto). During that stretch, Dawkins is hitting .378 with seven runs scored, five RBIs, one double, and two home runs. Looking further, Dawkins has hit safely in 13 of his last 14 games. Looking even further back, Dawkins has reached base in 21 of the 22 games he has played this season.
Smith Back In Action
After missing seven games due to a knew injury, Matt Smith returned to the lineup and started all three games of last weekend's series at New Mexico State. After going 0-for-4 in the first game, Smith collected three hits in each of the next two, finishing the weekend 6-for-13 with four RBIs. He raised his batting average 39 points from .255 to .294 with the effort. He now leads the team in batting average.
Career Game for Floyd
PJ Floyd smashed his second home run of the season in last Saturday's game, his second long ball of the season. With the three RBIs, Floyd matched his career-high for RBIs in a single game. Previously, Floyd had driven in three just one other time in March of last season at Washington, a three-run pinch-hit home run.
Sacramento State scored has scored first in 11 of their last 13 games. The Hornets are 6-5 in those 11 games. For the season, Sacramento State has scored first 16 times in 25 games and is 9-7 when they do.
A Full Slate
Starting with last Thursday's game at New Mexico State, the Hornets will have played five games in a span of six days, including four on the road. After last weekend's three-game series in Las Cruces, Sacramento State had 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.
Keep Them Under Six
Sacramento State is 11-4 this season when they are able to hold their opponents to five runs or fewer. When giving up six or more runs, the Hornets are winless, going 0-10 in those 10 games.
Sacramento State Stealers
Sacramento State is 38-for-49 (78%) in stolen base attempts this season, leading the WAC in the category and ranking 36th in all of NCAA Div. I baseball. They are 40 steals back of national leader Wolford (78). James Outman leads the team with 10 steals in 11 attempts while Matt Smith is second with eight. Outman and Smith rank first and second in the conference, respectively, in stolen bases. 10 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 is 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.
-- HornetSports --