BASEBALL OPENS WESTERN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE PLAY AT NEW MEXICO STATE
TWO HOTTEST TEAMS IN WAC MEET AS HORNETS TAKE ON AGGIES
Winners of 15 of their last 17, the Sacramento State baseball team travels to take on New Mexico State, who boasts the Western Athletic Conference’s best record at 25-3, this weekend at Presley Askew Field.
The four-game series, which will be the conference opener for both clubs, will feature a night game on Friday, a day-night doubleheader on Saturday and a lone affair on Sunday afternoon.
The Aggies are 19-3 at home this season, relying heavily on an offense that has produced 63 home runs and a .369 batting average on the season. They are currently ranked No. 23 in the country in the latest Collegiate Baseball Top 25, and are receiving votes in the USA Today/ESPN coaches poll.
Preseason all-WAC selection Tyler Sturdevant will take the hill for the Aggies on Friday, and will be followed by Sebastien Vendette, D.J. Simon and Jared Jordan, who are a combined 12-0 this season.
Audio for Friday and Sunday’s games will be available on www.ksnm570.am, while the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader will be broadcast on Fox Sports Arizona, albeit on a tape delay basis, Sunday at 2 p.m. Pacific time.
LAST SUNDAY: HORNETS 5, MENLO 1; HORNETS 9, MENLO 5
The Sacramento State baseball team battled the wind, but was able to post a second straight doubleheader victory over Menlo College, winning game one 5-1 and game two 9-5 on Sunday, March 29 at Hornet Field.
With the victories, the Hornets improved to 16-9 overall, winners of 15 of their last 17, while the Oaks fell to 10-14 on the season.
The two games were played under a county-wide wind advisory, with sustained northerly winds of 25-30 mph and gusts upwards of 40 mph. The northerly winds meant that the wind was blowing in at Hornet Field, making defensive plays difficult and driving the ball to all fields nearly impossible.
In game one, Hornet sophomore starter Brandon Sandoval, the reigning Western Athletic Conference pitcher of the week, pitched another gem, allowing one run on four hits in seven innings, striking out eight Oaks batters.
Sandoval (3-2) got all of the run support he needed in the bottom of the first, as senior Blake Crosby scratched out a RBI single, and junior Josh Powers produced a RBI sacrifice fly, giving Sacramento State a 2-0 lead.
The lead grew to 3-0 in the bottom of the third as sophomore Derrick Chung led off the inning with a walk, stole second base, and scored after stealing third base and having the attempted throw to catch him stealing go over the third baseman’s head. Chung made it 4-0 in the fourth with a RBI single that scored senior Hunter Martinez, who had produced a wiId-aided double to left field with two outs in the inning.
After Menlo scored their lone run of the game on a RBI groundout in the top of the fifth, Sacramento State pushed one more run across in the bottom of the sixth, as Crosby hit another RBI single that scored Martinez to round out the games scoring at 5-1.
Senior Jeff Roth threw the final two innings for the Hornets, striking out the side in the top of the eighth before allowing a lone hit in the top of the ninth. Brian Phillips (2-1) picked up the loss for the Oaks, allowing five runs, three earned, on eight hits in 5.2 innings pitched.
Game two saw the Hornets explode for eight runs in the bottom of the second to take command of the contest. After Crosby and Roth produced singles to start the inning, freshman Justin Lamb connected on a two-run double off the right center field wall, giving the Hornets a 2-0 lead. The final six runs scored with two outs, as junior Dan McCarthy reached on an error, scoring Lamb to keep the inning alive. Martinez then singled up the middle, and after a Chung walk, junior Tim Wheeler reached on a fielding error by the first baseman, scoring another run.
Crosby then came up for the second time in the inning, producing a two-run single, and Powers followed it up with a ground-rule double which scored two more runs, giving the Hornets an 8-0 lead.
Menlo chipped away with two runs in the top of the fourth and two more in the top of the fifth. In between, the Hornets added one insurance run, as Powers produced a RBI doubled down the left field line, scoring Wheeler. The Oaks scored one more run in the top of the seventh, but could not extend the game past the scheduled seven innings, falling 8-4.
Junior Tommy Elrod improved to 3-0 on the season, picking up the win after six innings of work where he allowed four runs on 10 hits. Brian Priestley (4-2) threw all seven innings for the Oaks, allowing nine runs, three earned, on nine hits while striking out seven.
Crosby led the Hornets with a 5-for-7 day, driving in four runs, while Powers also posted four RBI on the day. Lamb finished the day with two doubles, while Martinez went 3-for-8 with a double.
LAST SATURDAY: HORNETS 15, MENLO 3; HORNETS 15, MENLO 6
Junior Tim Wheeler and freshman Justin Lamb each drove in eight runs, and senior Hunter Martinez went 8-for-9 on the day, leading the Sacramento State baseball team to 15-3 and 15-6 seven inning victories over Menlo College on Saturday, March 28 at Hornet Field.
In game one, the Oaks took an early 2-0 lead, as in the top of the first, Ricky Grech hit a two-run homer to left field. The Hornets cut the lead to 2-1 in the bottom of the second on a sacrifice fly by Lamb, before taking the lead in the bottom of the third, 4-2, on a three-run home run by Wheeler, his seventh of the season.
After Menlo pulled to within one at 4-3 in the top of the fourth, the Hornets put the game away in the bottom half of the inning, as junior Josh Powers hit a two-run double to left, freshman Aaron Crouch connected on a sacrifice fly and Powers and senior Jeff Roth executed a double steal that allowed Powers to steal home, making the score 8-3.
The Hornets then scored seven runs in the bottom of the sixth, forcing the 10-run rule to be implemented following the top of the seventh. Powers hit an RBI double to start the scoring, which was followed by a RBI double by Crouch, a two-run homer by Lamb, Wheeler being hit by a pitch for a RBI, and a two-run single by senior Blake Crosby, which pushed the lead to the final margin of 15-3.
Freshman Jesse Darrah improved his record to 4-2, picking up the win for the Hornets. He allowed three runs on six hits in six innings of work, striking out six without allowing a walk.
In game two, Menlo again started with the lead, as Shane Parsons hit a solo home run in the top of the first to give the Oaks a 1-0 lead. Sacramento State tied the score in the bottom of the first on a RBI fielders choice groundout by Wheeler, and took the lead in the third on a RBI double by Wheeler and a RBI single by Crosby in the bottom of the third, making the score 3-1.
Menlo took their second lead of the game in the top of the fourth, plating five runs to make the score 6-3 in favor of the Oaks. Chris Mazza opened the scoring with a RBI single, with Joel Hull providing a two-run single, Parsons scratching a RBI single and Nick von Sonn producing one of his own later in the inning.
The Hornets came right back in the bottom half of the inning to tie the score at 6-6, as sophomore Brent Hottman hit a solo home run, and Wheeler followed with a two-run home run to right field later in the inning.
Sacramento State then closed the game out with nine unanswered runs, including three in the fifth and six in the sixth. In the bottom of the fifth, Crouch knocked in a run with a double down the right field line, and Lamb followed with a two-run homer. With the bases loaded in the bottom of the sixth, Crouch struck again with a two-run single to right, and Lamb connected on his third home run of the day and second of the game to deep left center off of the parking structure. Martinez then hit his second home run of the season to right field, finishing the scoring at a 15-6 advantage for the Hornets.
Hornet starter, senior Nick Buchta, allowed six runs, four earned, on 10 hits in four innings, before giving way to sophomore Chris Baek (3-2), who allowed no runs on just one hit over the final three frames to pick up his third win. Matt Simpson (3-4) picked up the loss for the Oaks, allowing eight runs, seven earned, on nine hits in 4.1 innings of work.
Martinez went 5-for-5 in game one, and reached base safely two more times in game two before being retired for the first time. He finished the day 8-for-9 with seven singles, a home run, a RBI and six runs scored, and became the 19th player in school history to record five hits in a single game..
Lamb ran his home run total on the season to six with three home runs on the day. He finished 4-for-7 with eight RBI, while Wheeler also went 4-for-7 with two homers, eight RBI and five runs scored. Wheeler now has 106 career RBI, which moves him into fifth place in school history. Crouch went 5-for-7 with five RBI, while Powers went 5-for-8 with three RBI and five runs scored.
WHEELER ENTERS CAREER RBI RECORD BOOK; AMONG NATIONS LEADERS
Junior outfielder Tim Wheeler has amassed 36 RBI so far during the 2009 season, giving him 106 runs batted in for his career. This places him fifth on the school’s career RBI chart, needing three RBI to surpass former teammate David Flores (2005-08) for fourth place and eight RBI to pass Gabe Jacobo (2006-08). Wheeler has driven in runs at an increasingly steady rate, as after posting just three RBI in the team’s first eight games, he has totalled 25 during the Hornets last 13 contests, in which the team is 11-2.
The 36 RBI this season rank fifth in the WAC and 14th in the nation. Wheeler also ranks in the top 50 in the nation in home runs (49th, 8), RBI per game (32nd, 1.44), slugging percentage (36th, 0.769), total bases (44th, 70) and being hit by a pitch (30th, 9)
MARTINEZ MAKING HIS MARK
Senior Hunter Martinez had a week to remember at the plate, hitting .560 (12-for-25), with a home run and 13 runs scored. Martinez went 8-for-9 in the Hornets doubleheader sweep over Menlo College on Saturday, March 28, going 5-for-5 in game one.
On the season, Martinez leads the WAC and ranks 16th in the nation in hits with 44, while ranking 35th in the nation in runs scored with 33.
GRAND SLAMS A PLENTY
The Sacramento State baseball team has hit three grand slams in a season for the first time since 2003. Junior Tim Wheeler started the festivites with a grand slam in the team’s 14-2 victory over Saint Mary’s on March 8. The next two came four days apart, as senior Jeff Roth hit one in the squads 18-5 victory over Cornell on March 21, and senior Blake Crosby followed that with a grand slam in the Hornets 10-5 victory over Oregon on March 24.
HORNET TOP 50 COUNTDOWN
Sacramento State, as a team, ranks in the top 50 in the country in four categories. The Hornets are 32nd in the nation with 22 sacrifice bunts, their highest ranked statistic. They also rank 33rd in fielding percentage (0.971), 38th in stolen bases (42), and 44th in walks allowed per nine innings (3.15).
The Hornets are currently without three starting pitchers due to injury. The latest injury came in the opening game of the series against Arizona, when senior lefthander Jose Ramirez was hit in the arm by a line drive. Ramirez continues to be out indefinitely.
Senior Eric Fregosi suffered a broken hand against San Francisco after being hit in his pitching hand with a line drive. He will miss 6-to-8 weeks of action.
Out for longer periods of time are junior righthander Trevor York and senior lefthander Brian Smith. York, who led the team in innings the past two seasons, is rehabbing from offseason surgery, and is looking at a mid-April return. Smith, who led the team in wins, is also rehabbing from offseason surgery, and has a less definitive timetable for return.
Senior Mike Weiss is out for the season following Tommy John surgery. He will look to make a return to the mound during the 2010 season.