• After a pair of tough losses, the Sacramento State baseball team will return to Western Athletic Conference play when it travels to Texas to take on Dallas Baptist in a three-game series which starts on Thursday. The first game will begin at 4:30 p.m. PT. Friday's contest is scheduled to start at noon PT and the final game will get under way at 10 a.m. PT. All three games will take place at Horner Ballpark which opened in March.
• The Hornets dropped to 13-11 overall with a ninth-inning loss to Fresno State at Raley Field. The defeat was the first midweek setback for Sacramento State this season in five games.
• This weekend will mark the Hornets' second trip to the Lone Star state this season. Sacramento State began the year with a three-game series at Texas and went 1-2. The team is also hoping to return to Texas for the WAC Tournament which will take place in Grand Prairie, May 22-26.
• Dallas Baptist is one of six teams who are in their first season in the WAC. Despite being new to the league, the Patriots were tabbed to finish first in the preseason poll, garnering eight of 10 first-place votes. Sacramento State was picked fourth.
• Dallas Baptist will provide a free audio and video stream of each game of the series through its website (dbupatriots.com/showcase).
• Live stats for each game of the series will also be provided by dbupatriots.com.
• This is the first meeting between the two schools.
Below is a look at how Sacramento State stacks up against this weekend's opponent in overall statistics.
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A LOOK BACK
Fresno State scored an unearned run in the top of the ninth inning to claim a 3-2 win over Sacramento State on Tuesday in front of 1,212 at Raley
The Bulldogs overcame a 2-0 deficit with a pair of runs in the sixth inning and then broke the tie when Taylor Tempel's two-out ground ball was mishandled at shortstop allowing Trent Garrison to score from second base.
Sacramento State scored the game's first runs in the third inning when Chris Lewis singled to left scoring Andrew Ayers and Rhys Hoskins. The score remained the same until the sixth when the Bulldogs loaded the bases with no outs. Hunter Greenwood then got Garrison to ground into a double play which scored a run. The second run crossed the plate on a wild pitch to knot the score, 2-2.
A LOOK AHEAD
Sacramento State will play five games at home next week beginning with a Tuesday contest against UC Davis on Apr. 2. The team will host San Francisco on Wednesday, Apr. 3, before facing Texas State for the first time in a three-game WAC series running from Friday-Sunday.
The three midweek games will start at 3 p.m. while Saturday's contest begins at 1 p.m. and Sunday's at noon.
AGAINST DALLAS BAPTIST
This weekend will mark the first meetings all-time against Dallas Baptist. The Patriots joined Div. I in 2004 and have made three NCAA regional appearances. In 2011, the team advanced to the Super Regionals after winning the Ft. Worth Regional.
SCOUTING THE PATRIOTS
Dallas Baptist is coming off a 5-4 win at TCU on Tuesday. The Patriots have now won three of their last four games and are 14-11 overall and 2-1 in Western Athletic Conference play.
First baseman Duncan McAlpine is one of the top power hitters in the WAC this season. McAlpine leads the conference with six home runs and has a slugging percentage of .679. He has also hit for average (.333) while starting 22 games.
Shortstop Nash Knight leads the team with a .357 batting average.
On the mound, seven DBU pitchers have earned a start this season. The majority of the workload has fallen on Jake Johansen and Cy Sneed who have each started six games. Johansen is 3-2 with a 3.76 ERA while Sneed is 2-1 with a 3.82. Paul Voelker leads the team with three saves.
Dallas Baptist is coached by Dan Heefner who is in his sixth season with the Patriots. Heefner has a career record of 199-113.
Despite having eight games decided by one run, Sunday's contest marked the first time this year that Sacramento State has gone into extra innings.
The Hornets played four extra-inning games last season, posting a 2-2 record.
HOT HITTING HIGLEY
Over the last 10 games there has been no one hotter at the plate for Sacramento State than Justin Higley. The junior outfielder is batting .417 during the stretch with four doubles, a triple and two home runs. Higley has also driven in eight runs and has an on-base percentage of .444.
The Jesuit HS product have been even more productive in his last five games, hitting .471 (8-17) and slugging .647 with an OBP of .591.
TWICE AS NICE
Sophomore Brennan Leitao worked double duty last week, coming out of the bullpen for an inning in the team's come-from-behind win at Saint Mary's before picking up the victory against CSU Bakersfield.
Leitao did not allow a baserunner in his inning against the Gaels. His effort helped the Hornets overcome a 6-2 deficit and rally for a 9-7 win.
On Saturday, he took the mound with the stomach flu and managed to last seven innings without allowing a run or walk against the Roadrunners.
The Irvine, Calif., native now ranks second among starters on the team with a 3.29 ERA and a 2-1 record. His 41.0 innings pitched is the most on the team by 13 innings. Leitao also has a strikeout to walk ratio of 5.75 to 1.
NOT A LOT OF TURNOVER
While the order has changed, the faces have remained relatively the same for the year for Sacramento State. Head coach Reggie Christiansen has started just 11 players (excluding pitchers) in the team's 23 games.
Catcher Dane Fujinaka, first baseman Rhys Hoskins, third baseman Will Soto, shortstop Scotty Burcham, right fielder Nathan Lukes and designated hitter Nathan Lukes have started every game at their respective positions. Higley (LF) and David Del Grande (CF) are close behind, having earned the start in 23 games.
One of the exceptions to the group has been reigning WAC MVP Andrew Ayers who's started "only" 20 games at second base. However, the four games Ayers missed were due to a suspension for an altercation against UC Riverside.
• Burcham has reached base safely in 10 straight games.
• The Hornets have committed just 16 errors in 23 games and have a team fielding percentage of .982.
• The home run allowed in the 10th inning against CSUB was just the second surrendered all season by Sacramento State.
• The team has stolen just 11 bases all year long in only 17 attempts.
• CSU Bakersfield, Seattle, Texas State, UTSA, UT Arlington and Dallas Baptist are all in their debut season in the WAC.
• Four Hornet relievers, who have all made at least six appearances, have ERA's of 2.21 or below.
• Sacramento State has nine home runs with no one individual with more than two.
• Tyler Hoelzen has pitched in 14 of the team's 24 games.