SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The Sacramento State baseball program entered the season as just one of two California Div. I teams with 30 or more wins in each of the last six seasons. With a 10-4 win over the Utah Valley Wolverines Friday night, the Hornets are currently the only California program with 30 or more wins in seven consecutive seasons.
"It was great to see us get to 30," said head coach Reggie Christiansen after the win. "I had heard before the game from guys like Justin Dillon, Nathan Lukes, and Rhys Hoskins all telling us, 'Get to 30.'"
"It's a big deal to those guys, seeing us carry this streak on, and the guys in the clubhouse all understand how important it is, too."
In Christiansen's second season as head coach, the Hornets won 31 games, putting them over the 30-win mark for the first time in eight years. Since then, Christiansen and his Hornets have won 30 or more games - including 40 in 2014 - in seven consecutive seasons.
Cal State Fullerton, the only other California Div. I baseball program with 30 or more wins in each of the last six seasons, has 27 wins as of Friday night.
Win number 30 wasn't easy to come by on Friday, as it took a full team effort and a late-game rally to seal the deal for the Hornets (30-23, 16-7 WAC) over Utah Valley (15-36, 6-17 WAC).
Sacramento State jumped out to a quick three-run lead in the first inning before a solo home run from Steven Moretto in the second made it a 4-0 game.
From there, the Utah Valley Wolverines battled their way back, scoring four runs from the third through sixth to tie the game. Parker Brahms wasn't as sharp as usual on Friday, allowing four runs over six innings.
"We're spoiled every time he takes the mound," said Christiansen of the sophomore ace. "But he pitched and battled through it tonight. Offensively, we were able to pick him up."
Immediately after the Wolverines tied things up, Sacramento State opened the gates with another big inning, scoring four runs in the bottom of the sixth. Moretto, who was already 1-for-2 with a home run, added an RBI double and scored another run in the inning.
"I was just trying to put the best swing I could on the ball," said Moretto of his night. "I had a rough BP, actually, so I just wanted to compete each at bat and good things happened."
Moretto finished the night 3-for-4 with a home run, a double, two RBIs, and two runs scored. PJ Floyd had two hits, including a big two-run double, while driving in three on the night.
In total, eight of nine starters reached base safely for Sacramento State. Six of nine had at least one hit while seven of the nine scored at least one run.
While clinching the team's 30th win was meaningful for everyone, it's not the end of the season by any means.
"That 30-win mark is certainly pretty special to me and to our players, and while it feels good, it's just one piece," said Christiansen. "We still want to make a run in the tournament and have a chance to get back to the NCAA tournament."
Those chances improved with Friday night's 10-4 win, as the Hornets still have a shot at the number two seed in the WAC tournament. With a win tomorrow and a New Mexico State loss, Sacramento State will lock up the number two seed and a first-round bye.
Whether or not the Hornets get the help they need to secure the first-round bye, things are feeling pretty good around the team right now as they head into the regular season finale tomorrow afternoon.
"There's a good vibe going around the clubhouse right now," said Moretto. "Every day we show up to the ballpark and no matter what team we're facing we expect to win every single game."
"I'm really looking forward to what the next week or two holds for us," he added. "The Hornets are going to be playing some really good baseball coming up."
Christiansen echoed that sentiment: "I still think our best baseball is a head of us."
As tomorrow is the final home game of the season, the team will also celebrate Senior Day as they recognize the team's nine graduating seniors in a special postgame ceremony.
"I'm just really proud of these guys," Christiansen said of the team's seniors. "Tomorrow will be special. There's nine guys that have meant a lot to this program and care about this place. We're all looking forward to getting a chance to celebrate what they've done for us."
First pitch for tomorrow's game is scheduled for 12:00 pm PT. Ty Fox will take the mound for the Hornets as the close out the 2018 regular season at John Smith Field.