SACRAMENTO, Calif. - In the last of a record six games this season at Raley Field, Sacramento State (32-20, 18-6 WAC) hosts Causeway rival UC Davis (20-27, 5-13 Big West) at 7:35 p.m. Tuesday night. The game will follow a Rivercats home game vs. Salt Lake City that begins at noon.
Tickets for Hornet games at Raley Field are $10 for adults and $5 for students and children with $5 parking. Green Army will be at the game handing out free food vouchers to the first 50 Green Army members in attendance. Those unable to make the contest can listen live on HornetSports.com/Radio and follow live stats.
Junior right handed pitcher Ty Nichols is expected to start for the Hornets and pitch for the first time since March 25. He made four starts early in the season before missing the last 28 Hornet games due to injury.
Sacramento State enters the week with a one-game lead over Grand Canyon atop the WAC standings but has already clinched the top seed for the conference tournament....The Hornets lead the WAC in batting average (.283), slugging percentage (.382), hits (501), runs (271), ERA (3.29), and saves (11) and is second in home runs (27)...Sacramento State is 5-0 at Raley Field this season, including a win over top-ranked Oregon State, and has hit .323 with 5.6 runs per game and a 2.93 ERA in the five games...With a win on May 3 the Hornets clinched the third consecutive 30-win season for the program, a feat not accomplished since nine straight 30-win seasons from 1985-1993...The Hornets crushed UC Davis 15-7 when the teams met on April 15 in Davis. The squad had a season-high 19 hits in the game and has won eight straight games vs. the Aggies.
SAC - Ty Nichols (Jr./RHP, 2-2, 3.30 ERA)
UCD - Max Cordy (RSo./RHP, 1-3, 5.48 ERA)
Scouting UC Davis (20-27, 5-13 Big West)
UC Davis will close an eight-game road trip on Tuesday, having gone 3-4 or far and winning 2-of-3 games at Cal State Northridge. The contest against the Hornets will be the last road game of the year for the Aggies, who end the season with home Big West series' against Hawaii and UC Santa Barbara. The Aggies are eighth in the ultra competitive nine-team Big West and are just 6-18 on the road this season. In the first meeting between the Aggies and Hornets in Davis on April 15, Sacramento State struck for a season-high 19 hits and used a seven-run fourth inning to open a big early lead and cruise to a 15-7 win. Every Hornet starter had a hit in the game and five had multi-hit days, including a 4-for-5 line with five runs scored and two RBIs from Kyle Moses, while Brian Ruhm had the UCD highlight with a late grand slam. For the season UC Davis ranks last in the Big West with a 4.64 team earned run average but freshman Zach Stone has had a strong season with nine saves and a 3.29 era. The Hornets have won eight straight meetings with UC Davis, with the last Aggie win coming more than three years ago on February 20, 2011.
Rally to Raley
The Hornets are 5-0 this season at Raley Field after defeating No. 4 Oregon State on April 21. In the five wins at Raley, the home of the Sacramento Rivercats, the Hornets have hit .323 with a 2.93 ERA and a .237 opponent batting average while averaging 5.6 runs per game. Prior to the six-game Raley Field slate this season Sacramento State had played there just five times ever 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. The team will face UC Davis at Raley Field for the third time on Tuesday.
Sacramento State has a one game lead over Grand Canyon atop the WAC standings with three games to play. Grand Canyon owns the tiebreaker over the Hornets should they end the season tied, but Sacramento State has already clinched the top seed for the WAC Tournament because Grand Canyon is not eligible for postseason play as it completes the transition to Division I. The top six teams in the final conference standings (minus Grand Canyon) will earn bids to the postseason tournament, which will take place in Mesa, Ariz. May 21-25 with the tournament winner to earn the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Championship. As the top seed Sacramento State will get a bye on the first day of the tournament before playing the lowest-seeded winning team from day one at 7 p.m. on Thursday, May 22.
On Saturday the Hornets did something no other team had been able to do in a calendar year: beat Sam Street. The Texas-Pan American senior from Australia entered last Friday's game 11-0 in 12 starts with a 1.69 ERA, tied for the NCAA lead in wins. The Broncs led 1-0 after two innings when the game was suspended, and Street continued on the mound in the resumption on Saturday. In the seventh inning the Hornets benefited from a UTPA error but came through with three hits in the inning and pushed across three runs, all with two away. That was all Hornet freshman Sam Long needed as he faced the minimum through seven shutout innings to give Street his first loss in a calendar year to the day.
Willing to Sacrifice
Sacramento State leads the WAC and ranks 23rd nationally in an often overlooked but important statistical category: sacrifice flies. The squad has recorded 28 sacrifice flies this season, which ties for 23rd best in the NCAA and is six more than the second highest total in the WAC. Every Hornet starter has at lease one sacrifice fly this season, led by six from senior David Del Grande, which is the 32nd-best individual total in the nation. Additionally, Hornet catcher Dane Fujinaka is tied for second in the WAC and is No. 39 in the NCAA with 11 sacrifice bunts this year.
Despite a challenging weekend the Hornets still rank among the WAC leaders in nearly every statistical category. Eleven of the team's 18 WAC wins have been by five runs or more, including four games that ended after the seventh inning due to the 10-run mercy rule. In WAC play the Hornets are hitting .305 with 18 home runs and 138 RBIs, averaging 6.3 runs per game with a .427 slugging percentage and .381 on-base percentage. Six Hornet starters are hitting better than .300 in conference games, led by a .371 average with 5 home runs and 29 RBIs from junior Rhys Hoskins. Hornet pitchers have a 2.24 ERA in conference play with a .212 opponent batting average. Top starters Brennan Leitao and Sam Long are a combined 10-0 in the WAC and the staff as a whole is allowing just 2.5 runs per game.
Leitao Leading the Way
Junior right handed pitcher Brennan Leitao was named WAC Pitcher of the Week on May 5 after throwing eight shutout innings in a win over Chicago State. This past weekend he started on both Friday and Sunday against Texas-Pan American as his Friday start was limited to two innings when the game was suspended. On Sunday he threw five shutout innings, allowing just four hits and no walks. In nine WAC starts, Leitao is 6-0 with a 1.47 ERA, allowing just nine earned runs over 55.0 innings with a 43/7 strikeout to walk ratio and a .223 opposing batting average. For the season he is 7-3 with a 2.25 ERA and a .239 opposing batting average with just 22 earned runs allowed in 88.0 innings.
Top of the Order
Sophomore Nathan Lukes has been phenomenal at the top of the Hornet lineup this season, leading the team with a .354 batting average to go with a .437 on-base percentage. He leads the WAC and ranks 26th in the NCAA with 75 hits this season and is tied for the WAC lead with 46 runs scored. Lukes has record a hit in 23 of 24 WAC games the Hornets have played and has a hit in 46 of 52 games overall. He has started in right field in every game this season, primarily hitting leadoff, and has 10 stolen bases and 17 RBIs. He had a career-high 20-game hitting streak, the longest by any WAC player this season and tied for the fourth longest in program history. He has also reached base in 32 consecutive games.
Sophomore Closer Sutter McLoughlin earned his ninth save of the season on May 4, bringing his career total to 26 saves to tie the program career record held by Mike Frame. He is also now just three saves behind the WAC career record of 29, set by Caleb Dudley of Louisiana Tech last season. Prior to that game McLoughlin had just two save opportunities over the previous 25 Hornet games and none since April 12th. McLoughlin was an NCBWA preseason All-American and has named to the NCBWA Midseason Stopper of the Year watch list in April. He had a17-inning scoreless streak to open the year and in 23 appearances is 3-2 with 1.43 ERA and a .194 opposing batting average with a 30/9 strikeout to walk ratio.
Three Times Thirty
With its win over Chicago State on May 3 the Hornets secured the program's third consecutive thirty-win season, the longest such streak since a string of nine straight 30-win seasons from 1985-1993. The squad has recorded 97 wins over the last three seasons to rank among the most winning programs in the state of California and has clinched a winning record and a berth in the WAC Tournament for the third consecutive season.
Sacramento State is 9-3 overall in midweek games this season, including a perfect 5-0 record at Raley Field. The squad is hitting .304 in midweek games while averaging 6.3 runs per game compared to a .277 batting average and 4.9 runs per game in weekend series games.