SACRAMENTO, Calif. – After a tough midweek game against the Pacific Tigers, the Sacramento State baseball team (16-15, 5-1) gets back to WAC action as they host the Northern Colorado Bears (19-14, 3-6) in a three game set. The three-game conference series starts Friday and runs through Sunday.
First pitch for both Friday's and Saturday's game is scheduled for 6:00 pm PDT while Sunday's getaway game will start at noon.
Watch Your Hornets
All three games this weekend against Northern Colorado can be seen live online at WACSports.com/watch. The video stream will be accompanied by audio from Hornets play-by-play broadcaster Anthony Rifenburg. An audio-only stream is available via HornetSports.com/Radio. 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.
- With a loss on Tuesday to Pacific, Sacramento State saw their season-best win streak come to an end at seven games. The seven game win streak is the team's longest since they won eight straight to end the 2017 regular season and WAC postseason.
- The Hornets enter their third conference series of the year with a 5-1 WAC record. Their .318 batting average in WAC competition is fourth best while their .526 slugging percentage is tops in the conference. They also own the conference's best conference-only ERA at 2.68.
- Sophomore outfielder Matt Smith has been on an absolute tear at the plate over the last five games, hitting .667 (12-for-18) with six extra base hits, including four home runs, and 10 RBIs. He leads the team with a .367 batting average.
- Senior utility man PJ Floyd was named the Western Athletic Conference's Hitter of the Week on April 9 after slugging three home runs, driving in nine, and scoring seven runs in five games last week. His three home runs in conference play are tops in the WAC.
- Northern Colorado enters this weekend's series with a 19-14 record, including a 3-6 mark in conference play. The Bears have won three of their last five, including their last game against Seattle U last Sunday.
By The Numbers
12: Hits in the last five games for sophomore Matt Smith. Smith is hitting .667 (12-for-18) during that stretch.
0: Runs allowed in 11 relief appearances by pitcher Austin Ragsdale. He has thrown 12.2 scoreless innings in relief.
14: Runs allowed by Sacramento State vs. Pacific, the most this season and most since April 18 of last season (L, 14-6, at USF).
Scouting The Bears
- The Northern Colorado Bears enter this weekend's WAC series with a 19-14 record, including a 3-6 mark in conference competition.
- This is the first and only scheduled meeting between these two teams this season. Northern Colorado swept the Hornets in a three-game series in Greely last season.
- As a team, the Bears are hitting .300 with a .407 on-base percentage. Those numbers are third and second best in the WAC, respectively.
- On the mound, Northern Colorado's pitchers own a 6.19 ERA, the second highest in the conference, only below Chicago State (8.41).
- Matt Burkart leads the club with six home runs while Tyler Yamaguchi paces the club with 31 RBIs through 33 games. Multiple Bears hitters own a .330+ batting average.
- The Bears have four players in the top 10 for runs scored, more than any other club. For the season, Northern Colorado has scored 252 runs, second most in the WAC.
Against Northern Colorado
Sacramento State and Northern Colorado have faced each other 24 times dating back to the 2004 season. The Hornets lead the all-time series, 18-6. Prior to last season, Sacramento State had never lost to Northern Colorado under current head coach Reggie Christiansen (11-0). Last season, the Bears swept Sacramento State in Colorado in a three game series. The Hornets then beat Northern Colorado in the WAC Postseason Tournament to advance to the championship game. Sacramento State has not lost at home to the Bears since 2006.
About Last Game
The Hornets came out on the wrong end of a slugfest in their last game, falling 14-7 to the Pacific Tigers Tuesday night at John Smith Field. The Hornets fell behind early, trialing 9-3 in the fourth inning, though they refused to go away quietly. Sacramento State got home runs from both Matt Smith (2nd) and Ian Dawkins (3rd). For Smith, his home run was one of a team-high four hits and four RBIs for the game.
Time For A New Streak
With Tuesday night's loss, Sacramento State saw their season-long seven-game win streak come to an end. The streak was their longest of the year and longest since winning eight straight at the end of the 2017 campaign. During the seven-game streak, the Hornets averaged nearly nine runs per game while hitting .333 as a team. The pitching staff held opponents to a .216 batting average and posted a 1.89 ERA. During the streak, the Hornets outscored their opponents 60-12.
The Century Mark
With three wins against Chicago State last weekend, Sacramento State head coach Reggie Christiansen passed the 100-win mark in WAC competition. Currently in his eighth season as head coach for the Hornets, Christiansen is 102-79 (.565) against WAC opponents. He is the only active WAC coach with more than 100 conference wins (Andy Stankiewicz at Grand Canyon is next with 79). Since taking over as the head coach for the Hornets, Christiansen is 232-214 overall.
Showtime for Smith
Matt Smith has been on an absolute tear over his last five games. During that stretch, the sophomore outfielder is hitting .667 (12-for-18) with six extra base hits, including a triple and a home run. He has scored five runs and has driven in 10. During the last five games, he also has two stolen bases. With four walks, Smith has an on base percentage of .727 and is slugging 1.167. For the season, Smith leads the team with a .367 batting average.
14 Runs Is A Lot
Sacramento State allowed 14 runs in their last game, a Tuesday night, 14-7 loss at home to Pacific. The 14 runs are the most given up by the Hornets since they allowed 14 in a 14-6 loss at San Francisco on April 18 of last season.
Game three of this weekend's series, scheduled for a noon first pitch on Sunday, is also the Sacramento State baseball team's annual Kids Day game. The first 250 fans through the gates on Sunday will receive a free 2018 Baseball Team Photo. After the game, the players will sign autographs while children are invited to run the bases.
Floyd Named Hitter of the Week
PJ Floyd was a big part in helping the Hornets go 5-0 last week and was named the WAC's Hitter of the Week for his performance. In a two-game non-conference series with Saint Mary's, he was 2-for-6 with a home run, two runs scored and five RBIs. He followed that up with a 4-for-10 performance in a three-game sweep of Chicago State, hitting two more home runs and adding five more runs and four more RBIs to his weekly totals. His .818 slugging percentage in WAC play leads the league and his three home runs in six WAC contests is tied for the top spot.
Dawkins Hit Streak Snapped
Senior Ian Dawkins had his season-long hit streak come to an end last weekend at 12 games. Dawkins's streak is the longest by a Hornets player this year (Steven Moretto is second with eight) and was two games shy of his career-long hit streak, 14, from March 14-April 5 of last season. During the streak, Dawkins hit .420 with nine RBIs, a double, and two home runs. He also walked six times and was hit by a pitch, giving him a .491 on-base percentage over those 12 games. During the streak, Dawkins had two or more hits eight times. He raised his batting average nearly 100 points over those 13 games, climbing from .211 on March 11 to .308 on April 7. He now has a .310 average, second best on the club.
Tale of Two Quarters
Now 30 games into the season, Sacramento State is slightly over the halfway mark for the 2018 campaign (55 total games). Through the first quarter of the season, the Hornets fell out to a 5-10 record through their first 15 games. They were hitting just .220 as a team and scoring just over four runs per game while the pitching staff posted an above-average 4.04 ERA. Since then, Sacramento State is 11-4 over their last 15 games, hitting .277 as a club and scoring more than six runs per contest. The pitching staff has stepped up, as well, posting a 3.82 ERA in those 15 games.
Esposito Going Yard
After finishing the 2017 season with 10 home runs, Vinny Esposito entered Sacramento State's 28th game of the 2018 season still looking for his first big fly. He found it in game one of last Saturday's doubleheader against Chicago State, mashing a deep fly ball to center field. He added his second home run of the season later that day in the second game of the doubleheader. A senior, Esposito leads current Hornets with 21 career home runs, though junior James Outman isn't far behind with 18.
Torres's First Career Jack
Freshman infielder Keith Torres joined the home run barrage last weekend, slugging his first career homer in game two of Saturday's doubleheader. The two-run shot cleared the wall out in left field. He is the latest freshman to homer, joining both Steven Moretto (5) and Dylan McPhillips (1). Overall, it was a big series for Torres, who went 4-for-8 with a double, home run, three runs scored, and three RBIs in three games.
This weekend's series against Northern Colorado marks the end of Sacramento State's longest homestand of the season (seven games). Previously, the Hornets' longest homestand was five games, from Feb. 16 through Feb. 23 to open the season. The Hornets have already had one road trip of nine games and will have another nine-game trip from April 17 through May 1. The Hornets are looking to make the most of their remaining 13 home games on the schedule. Overall, Sacramento State is 9-6 at home this season, compared to 7-7 on the road (0-1 neutral).
Keeping It Clean
Sacramento State has played clean defense all year, but especially over their last 10 games. Overall, the Hornets own a .978 fielding percentage, the third best mark in the WAC and the 27th best in all of NCAA Div. I. Over their last 10 games, the Hornets own a .994 fielding percentage, having committed just two errors in 82.0 innings. Sacramento State has traditionally fielded a strong defensive team, finishing one or two in the WAC in each of the last five seasons.
None of the Walks
As a staff, Sacramento State pitchers own a 2.42 walks allowed per nine innings, the best mark in the WAC and the second best mark in all of NCAA Div. I baseball. The Hornets have walked just 73 batters in 272 innings this season, compared to 222 strikeouts. Austin Root is second in the conference and 41st in the nation with a 1.37 walks allowed per nine innings. Parker Brahms is fourth in the conference with a 1.84 walks per nine.
Keep Them Under Six
Sacramento State is 16-4 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 has scored first in 15 of their last 17 games. The Hornets are 10-5 in those 15 games. For the season, Sacramento State has scored first 20 times in 30 games and is 13-7 when they do.
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 --