SACRAMENTO, Calif. - The Sacramento State baseball team is on the road this weekend as it heads north to face Oregon State and Oregon in a weekend of fall competition.
The Hornets will face the Beavers on Saturday, Oct. 5 and the Ducks on Sunday, Oct. 6.
The weekend trip to Oregon is not Sacramento State's first fall action this season as the Hornets participated in the 2019 Collegiate Baseball Classic in Vancouver, British Columbia in August. The tournament featured the Hornets, two teams from Japan, and the host University of British Columbia.
"Playing this much in the fall is a first for me and I am really glad we did it," said head coach Reggie Christiansen. "I think it has helped to develop a really close group and we have been able to answer more questions as to what areas we need to improve on over the next four months before the season starts."
The weekend trip to Oregon, while shorter than August's tournament, is just as important for coach Christiansen, his staff, and the team when it comes to shaping the 2020 season.
"I think as a staff we are still in the observation mode, trying to get a feel for who can do what and how we are going to put the pieces in place in January," Christiansen explained when asked the goal of fall competition. "It also serves as our last week of team practice, so it will provide our players a test to see how they stack up as they head into the strength and individual phase of our fall."
This marks the second straight year in which the Hornets will play at Oregon State.
"Oregon State is the premier program on the west coast and I have a great deal of respect for what Coach Casey has built in Corvallis," said Christiansen. "Selfishly, it is an opportunity for our coaching staff to see how they run their program even with a new staff in place. For our players, it's a chance to compete against a really good team, the type of teams we hope to face throughout the season and into the postseason."
Oregon State is just one season removed from capturing the 2018 College World Series and, like the Hornets last year, advanced to the NCAA Regionals while finishing with a 36-20-1 overall record.
Oregon played to a 27-29 overall record last season in the highly competitive Pac-12. Although it has been some time since their last NCAA Tournament appearance, the Ducks participated in four straight tournaments from 2012-15.
"This trip is a unique opportunity to play OSU and Oregon on back-to-back days," added Christiansen. "I have a solid relationship with their new head coach Mark Wasikowski as he has now hired two of my former pitching coaches in Steve Holm and Jake Angier."
Holm is now the head coach at Illinois State, but Angier, who spent the last six seasons alongside Christiansen and was a part of all three NCAA Regional appearances, will be there Sunday as Oregon's new pitching coach.
For the first time, Christiansen will compete against his former associate head coach instead of alongside him, though the event should be more of a reunion than a contest.
"It will be great to see Jake and his family," said Christiansen, "and I know our players are looking forward to seeing Jake as well. He was such a big part of what we did and it will be good for our guys to get a chance in person to thank him for his dedication to our program the last six years."
It's not often that a program is able to participate in as much fall action as the Hornets have this year. In the end, Christiansen recognizes not just the importance of fall competition for the development of his program, but also the uniqueness of such a situation.
"This is a great opportunity for us to get back on the road as a team and go test ourselves against two Pac-12 programs," Christiansen said. "We are very lucky to have a President (Robert Nelsen) and Athletics Director (Mark Orr) that support our program and allow us such a great opportunity in the fall. Not many places are afforded this opportunity."
The 2020 season of Hornet baseball begins Friday, Feb. 14 at John Smith Field when the Hornets host UC Santa Barbara in a three-game weekend series. The full schedule can be found online at HornetSports.com.