SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Before opening a nine-game home stand next week the Sacramento State baseball team (7-6) returns to the road this weekend. The team will face UC Riverside (6-6) at 6 p.m. Friday and 1 p.m. Sunday and take on West Virginia (5-4) in a neutral site game at 1 p.m. Saturday.
SAC - Ty Nichols (Jr./RHP, 2-1, 3.50 ERA)
UCR - Jake Smigelski (Sr./RHP, 2-1, 1.37 ERA)
SAC - Brennan Leitao (Jr./RHP, 1-1, 3.00 ERA)
WV - TBA
SAC - Jared Paderez (Fr./RHP, 0-1, 3.46 ERA)
UCR - TBA
Scouting UC Riverside (6-6)
UC Riverside started the season 3-1, taking two of three against San Francisco and beating Washington State before being swept in a three-game set at Texas State. The team won all three games at Bakersfield last week and is 3-2 overall at home. Junior third baseman Nick Vilter is hitting a robust .429 with six home runs and 15 RBIs and is one of six Riverside starters hitting better than .300 on the season. Senior Jacob Smigelski is the ace of the staff, posting a 2-1 record with a 1.37 ERA and 19 strikeouts through three starts this season. The Hornets split a four-game home series with the Highlanders last season, a series that featured an infamous brawl after a Riverside player punched former Hornet Andrew Ayers in the series opener. UC Riverside holds a 21-5 edge over Sacramento State in the all-time series.
Scouting West Virginia (5-4)
West Virginia plays a double header Saturday against both Sacramento State and UC Riverside and then a single game against the Highlanders on Sunday. The Mountaineers won three games last weekend in a tournament at Coastal Carolina and will be making their second trip to southern California after losing two of three at San Diego State two weeks ago. West Virginia doesn't play its first home game until March 25 and has gone 2-2 thus far in neutral site games. Junior Billy Fleming is hitting .457 and senior Ryan McBroom is hitting .343 with three homers and 14 RBIS. Sacramento State and West Virginia will be meeting on the baseball diamond for the first time on Saturday as the Mountaineers will be the fourth Big 12 opponent the Hornets have faced in their history (Kansas, Kansas State, Texas).
No Sophomore Slump
2013 Freshman All-American Sutter McLoughlin has picked up right where he left off last season when broke the program record with 17 saves. He leads the WAC this season with four saves already recorded, including a six-out save to preserve a shutout against No. 21 Texas A&M. McLoughlin also has two wins this season as he has factored in six of the seven Hornet victories. Over 8.0 innings he has not given up a run and has allowed just two hits and one walk with nine strikeouts and a .080 opponent batting average.
In For The Long Hall
LHP Sam Long made his third career start on Wednesday against Nevada and threw six scoreless innings, allowing just four hits and three walks with three strikeouts. Long has allowed just 17 hits and four earned runs over 17.0 innings pitched this year with a 2.12 ERA and is one of just two pitchers to defeated Fresno State this season. In his collegiate debut at Fresno State the Rancho Cordova native allowed just one earned run on six hits and no walks with three strikeouts over five innings pitched to earn the win, and he allowed just three runs in a no-decision a week ago against Nevada.
Starting at the Top
Sophomore Nathan Lukes has started in right field and hit leadoff in every game this season and is hitting .354 with a .458 on-base percentage, leading the team in both categories as well as hits (17), runs (9), and walks (9). He also has three RBIs, two doubles, one stolen base, and a 1.000 fielding percentage with two outfield assists. Among his four multi-hit games this season are a three-hit game against Nevada and a four-hit game against Utah and he has reached base in seven consecutive games.
Rally to Raley
The Hornets are 2-0 with still five games remaining this season at Raley Field, the home of the Sacramento Rivercats. Since the field was constructed in 2000 Sacramento State had played there just five times with a 2-3 record: two games each in 2001 and 2002 and a single game last year, a 3-2 loss vs. Fresno State. Sacramento State has remaining midweek games this season against Pacific, Air Force, San Francisco, Oregon State and, for the third time, Causeway rival UC Davis under the Raley lights.
Sacramento State is 3-0 in midweek games so far this season, due in large part to the pitching of Sam Long, who has started all three games, but also an uptick in hitting. Though it is a small sample size, the squad is hitting .301 in midweek games but just .249 in series games, and the team's era is 2.25 in the three midweek games and 3.93 in series. The Hornets also have sizeable gaps in slugging percentage (.408-.316) and on-base percentage (.365-.300) in going 3-0 in midweek games and 4-6 otherwise.
Double Your Pleasure, Double Your Fun
Sacramento State pitchers have benefited from 12 double plays turned by the Hornets so far this season. The squad has recorded multiple double plays in four games this year, including three each in games against Texas A&M and Fresno State.