SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Sacramento State (12-11) returns to action with a pair of midweek games vs. Air Force (4-18). Tuesday's game was moved up to 10:45 a.m. at John Smith Filed due to impending rain forecasted in the evening. The teams also hope to play at 3 p.m. Wednesday as the Hornets wrap up a nine-game home stand. Both games can be heard live on HornetSports.com/Radio.
The First Pitch
Sacramento State is 4-0 in midweek games this season, hitting .286 with a 1.95 ERA and scoring 4.75 runs per game with wins over Fresno State, Nevada, and Pacific...Senior center fielder David Del Grande was named WAC Hitter of the Week after hitting .636 with a home run, six runs, three RBIs, two stolen bases, and five walks...The Hornets hit .396 as a team in sweeping Northern Colorado, outscoring the Bears 28-4 with the Hornet pitchers posting a 1.44 ERA and a .207 opponent batting average...Closer Sutter McLoughlin has not allowed a run in 23.0 innings dating back to last year, allowing just seven hits and three walks, and is two saves shy of the Hornet career record...Air Force is on a 12-game losing streak and is 0-14 on the road this season with a .215 batting average and 6.30 ERA but leads the Mountain West with 8.0 strikeouts per game.
SAC - Justin Dillon (RFr./RHP, 0-0, 0.00 ERA)
AFA - Steven Trojan (So./RHP, 1-4, 5.28 ERA)
SAC - Hunter Greenwood (Sr./RHP, 0-2, 7.00 ERA)
AFA - TBA
Scouting Air Force (4-18)
Air Force comes to Sacramento on a 12-game losing streak, having not won a game since March 8. The Falcons started the season 3-3 and have a win over Fresno State but have lost by multiple runs in each of their last 12 games. The team has played only three home games this year, going 1-2, and is 0-14 on the road. Air Force is hitting .215 as a team with a .283 on-base percentage and has no individual player hitting better than .267. That leading hitter is junior outfielder David Thomas, who also leads the team with two home runs and 13 runs scored. The team has a 6.30 cumulative ERA with opponents hitting .305 against the them. Sacramento State is 3-1 against Air Force in the Div.-I era, winning 3-of-4 games in a home series in 2011.
Feasting on Bear
By any statistical measure, Sacramento State dominated Northern Colorado in its three-game series sweep. The Hornets hit a robust .396 in the series with a .593 slugging percentage and a .491 on-base percentage while outscoring the Bears 28-4. The Hornet pitchers limited Northern Colorado to a .207 batting average in the series with a 1.44 ERA, striking out 15 and walking only four over 25 innings. Six different Hornets hit above .425 for the series and the squad totaled six doubles and four home runs.
Del Grande De Great
Hornet senior center fielder hit .636 last week, including a .750 average against Northern Colorado, and was subsequently named WAC Hitter of the Week. He went 7-for-11 on the week with six runs, three RBIs, two stolen bases, five walks and a home run. He made just four outs in 18 at-bats during the week and registered a .778 on-base percentage and .909 slugging percentage.
23 Innings and Counting
All-American sophomore closer Sutter McLoughlin has not allowed a run in his last 23.0 innings pitched dating back to last season. He was perfect the last seven innings he pitched in 2013 and has not allowed a run in 16.0 innings pitched this season, allowing just seven hits and three walks with 17 strikeouts over the stretch. He leads the WAC and is tied for fourth in the NCAA with seven saves this year while also totaling two wins. He needs just two more saves to equal the program career record of 26 set by Mike Frame.
The Other Closer
After his pinch-hit 2-run double in the eighth inning on Tuesday Hornet redshirt freshman Ryan Locke improved 4-for-4 with three RBIs this season as a pinch hitter. Senior Clay Cederquist is also 2-for-3 as a pinch hitter as Sacramento State is 8-for-16 (.500) overall with a hit by pitch in pinch hit at-bats this season, with each of the eight hits coming in the seventh inning or later.
First is Best
Sacramento State's success this season has often been tied with its ability to score first, as the team is 11-2 when scoring the first run and 1-9 when the opponent scores first. It has also proved prudent to get a lead early as the team is 10-0 this season when leading after six innings and 0-10 when trailing (2-1 when tied).
Sacramento State is 4-0 in midweek games so far this season behind solid pitching and an uptick in hitting. Though it is a small sample size, the squad is hitting .286 in midweek games but just .257 in series games, and the team's era is 1.95 in the three midweek games. The Hornets also have sizeable gaps in slugging percentage (.391-.339) and on-base percentage (.351-.323) in going 4-0 in midweek games and 8-11 otherwise.
Sutter McLoughlin leads a potent three-man bullpen combination that has been mostly lights out late in games this season. In addition to the gaudy numbers put up be McLoughlin, junior Alex Palsha leads the team with 14 appearances and is 3-0 with a 1.50 ERA over 24.0 innings of relief, allowing just 16 hits this season. Additionally, freshman Sterling Humphry has allowed just one run in 9.1 innings, giving up just four hits with a .133 opponent batting average. The trio has allowed just five earned runs over 49.1 combined innings pitched, a 0.92 ERA.
In For The Long Haul
LHP Sam Long recorded his fourth quality start of the season last Saturday against Northern Colorado, throwing five shutout innings while allowing just two hits and one walk with two strikeouts. Long has allowed just 26 hits and seven earned runs over 39.0 innings pitched this year for a 2.17 ERA and is tied for the team lead with three wins. The team has won all five games Long has started this season, and over his last three starts he is 2-0 with a 1.06 ERA and a .232 opponent batting average over 17.0 innings pitched.