SACRAMENTO, Calif. - The 2020 season of Sacramento State baseball begins on Friday night as the Hornets welcome the defending Big West champion UC Santa Barbara Gauchos to John Smith Field. The Hornets are defending a title of their own, coming off a 40-win season in which they claimed the WAC Tournament title and a trip to the program's third NCAA Regional in the last six seasons.
How To Watch
vs. UC Santa Barbara Gauchos
John Smith Field // Sacramento, Calif.
Friday, Feb. 14 - Sunday, Feb. 16 // Times vary
Live Stream: WACDigitalNetwork.com
Live Stats: HornetStats.com
vs. Milwaukee-Wisconsin Panthers
John Smith Field // Sacramento, Calif.
Thursday, Feb. 20 - Sunday, Feb. 23 // Times vary
Welcome to 2020 Hornet Baseball
2020 marks the 72nd season of Sacramento State Hornet baseball. The Hornets - led by 10th-year head coach Reggie Christiansen - are coming off a 40-25 season (18-9 WAC) that included the program's third WAC Tournament Championship and NCAA Regional appearance in the last six years.
Defending WAC Champs
Sacramento State begins the 2020 season as the defending Western Athletic Conference tournament champions, having defeated Grand Canyon in back-to-back games to clinch the title last season. The tournament championship was Sacramento State's third in the last six years.
A Tournament Of Firsts
Sacramento State's championship run was a historic one, filled with WAC Tournament firsts. In the tournament's current six-team, double-elimination format, Sacramento State became the first team to:
- Win six games in the tournament
- Lose a first round game and advance to Saturday night's first championship game
- Lose a first round game and win the tournament
- Beat all five other teams in the tournament
- Eliminate all five other teams from the tournament
Return To Regionals
The Hornets made their return to the NCAA Regionals last season after winning the WAC Tournament and securing the league's automatic bid. It was the third NCAA Regional appearance for the Hornets in the last six years (2014, '17, '19) and their second at Stanford's Sunken Diamond (2017).
Since its first WAC Tournament appearance in 2012, Sacramento State has won three WAC Tournament titles, more than any other current WAC program since that time. The Hornets won their first ever WAC Tournament title in 2014 before winning again in 2017 and 2019. No other WAC team has won more than one WAC Tournament since 2012.
In addition, Sacramento State has appeared in five of eight WAC Tournament championship games since 2012, two more than another team. The Hornets have appeared in each of the last three title games.
Baseball America's Field of 64
Sacramento State was picked by Baseball America to advance to its fourth NCAA Regional Tournament in 2020 in the organization's preseason Field of 64 Projections. According the projected bracket, the Hornets would join Cal State Fullerton and San Diego State in a UCLA Regional.
D1 Baseball picked Sacramento State to finish atop the Western Athletic Conference standings at the end of the regular season, projecting the team to finish first ahead of second-place Grand Canyon and third-place New Mexico State.
Similarly, Perfect Game placed the Hornets atop its preseason WAC predictions, finishing again ahead of Grand Canyon (2nd) and New Mexico State (3rd).
WAC Preseason Team
Senior outfielder Matt Smith and junior right-hander Scott Randall were named to the Western Athletic Conference preseason all-conference team. At the end of last season, Smith was named first team while Randall earned a spot on the conference's second-team.
With two preseason selections prior to 2020, Sacramento State has now had two or more players named to the preseason all-conference team in each of the last four seasons.
WAC Coaches Poll
Sacramento State received a league-leading four first place votes but finished second in the 2020 WAC Preseason Coaches Poll. The Hornets' four first-place votes are more than Grand Canyon (two), New Mexico State (two), and UT Rio Grande Valley (two). Grand Canyon received 73 total points to finish first, just two ahead of Sacramento State's 71 total points.
24 of Sacramento State's 27 active players from a season ago are back on the roster for the 2020 season. Of the team's nine regular starters last year, eight are returning to the squad for this campaign. Among those returning are 2019 all-conference selections Matt Smith and Scott Randall, as well as games-played leaders Keith Torres and Steven Moretto.
Sacramento State returns eight of nine starting position players to the 2020 roster, with centerfielder Bronson Grubbs the lone departure. Among those returning is preseason all-conference selection Matt Smith, who led the Hornets in average, hits, runs scored, and more a year ago. Also returning are home-run leader Steven Moretto and RBI-leader Dawsen Bacho.
On the mound, the Hornets return two of their three weekend starters in senior Parker Brahms and Scott Randall. Brahms enters his senior campaign third on the program's all-time strikeouts list and Randall is a WAC preseason all-conference selection.
Consistency in the Bullpen
While the Hornets return most of their starting role payers, they also return most of the core of their bullpen. Last year's games leaders Brady Rodriguez (33 games), Stone Churby (32 games), and Travis Martizia (31 games) are all back to anchor a Sacramento State bullpen that finished with a 3.99 ERA and an 8.3 K/9.
In addition to Sacramento State's 24 returning players, the Hornets have added nine new players to the program. Of the nine newcomers, eight are freshmen and one, Chris Gonzalez, is a junior transfer.
Sacramento State's 2020 roster features nine players from north of the border, including four in this year's newest group of Hornets. Starting with the 2018 season, the Hornets established a strong connection with Canadian players, adding two players - current junior Steven Moretto and former Hornet reliever and current minor leaguer Tanner Dalton. The team added four more prior to the 2019 campaign before bringing in another four for 2020.
New Faces in the Dugout
Joining head coach Reggie Christiansen in the dugout this season are two new coaches, pitching coach Tyler LaTorre and hitting coach David Flores. Rounding out the staff is returner Toby DeMello.
LaTorre was most recently the pitching coach at San Jose State, where he helped guide a pair of all-Mountain West selections, including a co-MWC Pitcher of the Year. LaTorre spent 10 seasons in the minor leagues, including parts of four seasons at Triple-A.
Flores returns to Sacramento State, where he played for the Hornets (2005-08) and spent two seasons as a volunteer assistant in 2015-16. Most recently, Flores served as the hitting coach for the Seattle Mariners' Dominican Academy and as the hitting coach for the team's affiliate in the Midwest League.
Rounding out the staff is DeMello, who returns for his second year. DeMello served as the team's Director of Operations and Analytics and is now the Volunteer Assistant Coach.
Recent History with the Gauchos
Sacramento State and UC Santa Barbara have faced each other four times over the last two seasons. Most recently, the Hornets defeated and eliminated the #19 Gauchos from the 2019 NCAA Stanford Regional last June. In 2018, the two teams played a three-game weekend series in Santa Barbara with the Hornets taking two of three on the road, including a 12-3 blowout and a 2-0 shutout.
- For complete series notes vs. UCSB, CLICK HERE. -