SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Sacramento State (22-14, 10-2 WAC) continues conference play this weekend against a familiar foe that has a new name taking on UT Rio Grande Valley (17-16, 6-3 WAC) with games at 5 p.m. Pacific time Friday, 4 p.m. Saturday, and 10 a.m. Pacific on Sunday. UTRGV replaced the former Texas Pan American and remained on the same campus in Edinburg.
- For the first time in program history Sacramento State swept each of its first three home WAC series of the season. The squad is now tied with Seattle U for first place in the WAC Standings at 10-2.
- The Hornets are averaging 5.3 runs per game and hitting .289 over their last 12 games. The team has 34 extra-base hits in the stretch, including eight home runs, with a .420 slugging percentage.
- Senior Chris Lewis was named WAC Hitter of the Week after going 11-for-17 (.647) with 8 RBIs and 5 runs scored in four games. He had multiple hits in each game with a trio of three-hit games.
- Sacramento State leads the WAC and is tied for 39th in NCAA Div. I with 34 double plays turned this year. The Hornets turned six double plays in the Chicago State series with four in one game.
- Formerly Texas Pan American, UT Rio Grande Valley is 14-5 at home this season and is in the top three in the WAC in on-base percentage and ERA. The Vaqueros also lead the WAC in fielding percentage.
SAC - Sam Long (Jr./LHP, 4-5, 3.86 ERA)
UTRGV - Johnny Gonzalez (So./RHP, 4-2, 2.28 ERA)
SAC - Max Karnos (Jr./RHP, 3-2, 3.17 ERA)
UTRGV - Andrew Garcia (Jr./RHP, 6-2, 2.35 ERA)
SAC - Grant Kukuk (Sr./RHP, 5-1, 3.58 ERA)
UTRGV - Robert Quinoñez (So./RHP, 2-0, 3.11 ERA)
UT Rio Grande Valley will provide video and live stats for every game on goutrgv.com and linked above. Sunday's game will be streamed on the WAC Digital Network. All game day media links can always be found on the baseball schedule page on hornetsports.com. For more content and game updates follow @hornetsports and @SacStBaseball on twitter and like Sacramento State Athletics and Sacramento State Hornet Baseball Fans on facebook.
UT Rio Grande Valley Vaqueros | Overall: 17-16 | WAC: 6-3 | Home: 14-5
UT Rio Grande Valley is in its first year of existence with its athletics department transferring over from the former Texas Pan American on the same campus in Edinburg. The Vaqueros rank second in the WAC with a .367 on-base percentage and are tied for fourth in the league in runs scored while its pitching staff has the third best ERA in the WAC at 4.16. UTRGV's three weekend starters all have ERAs below 3.15 with two below 2.35 but the team's bullpen has struggled. Three UTRGV starters are hitting better than .320. Sacramento State went 4-2 over the last two seasons against the former UTPA, losing 2-of-3 in Edinburg in 2014.
For the first time in program history Sacramento State swept each of its first three home WAC series of the season. The pitching staff has a 1.87 ERA in nine home league games and a 2.36 ERA in12 WAC games overall while the offense is averaging nearly five runs scored per game in WAC competition. With their latest sweep the Hornets moved into a tie with Seattle U at 10-2 atop the WAC standings.
Chicago Style Sweep
The Hornets completed their third home WAC sweep of the season with a dominant performance against Chicago State. Sacramento State hit .337 and outscored Chicago State 19-5 with the pitching staff holding the Cougars to a .171 batting average with a 1.38 ERA. All three starting pitchers turned in quality starts and earned wins with junior Max Karnos throwing an 8-inning shutout on Saturday. Chris Lewis hit .667 with 5 RBIs and Brandon Hunley and Bronson Grubbs both hit .500 in the series. Andrew McWilliam hit two home runs on Saturday and the Hornets totaled six doubles in the series.
Lewis Lighting it Up
Senior Chris Lewis was named WAC Hitter of the Week on Monday after hitting 11-for-17 (.647) with 8 RBIs and 5 runs scored over four games last week. He had multiple hits in each of the four games, including a trio of three-hit games. He drove in all four Sacramento State runs in Sunday's 4-1 win over Chicago State, had three RBIs on Tuesday at Nevada, and scored three times on Saturday. Over his last nine games Lewis has seven multi-hit lines, hitting .514 with 10 RBIs over that stretch. For his career he now ranks sixth in program history with 117 RBIs and with 43 doubles.
The Hornets are averaging 5.3 runs per game and hitting .289 over their last 12 contests. The team has tallied 34 extra-base hits in the stretch, including eight home runs, with a .420 slugging percentage. The squad has 21 steals in the 12 games while five Hornets are hitting better than .300. Chris Lewis is hitting .460 with 12 RBIs and Andrew McWilliam is hitting .364 with three home runs and 13 RBIs in the stretch.
Sacramento State leads the WAC and is tied for 46th in the nation with 52 stolen bases this year. The Hornets were 10-for-11 in stolen base attempts against Northern Colorado, 9-for-9 in their season-opening series win at Auburn, and have at least one steal in 26 games this year with multiple steals in 11 games. Sacramento State finished second in the WAC with 79 stolen bases last season.
Hornet senior Tyler Beardsley has not only taken over the job of closer but has become the team's finisher as well. Of the 20 games Beardsley has pitched this year the team has won 17 of them as he has allowed just one earned run in 24.1 innings pitched, good for a miniscule 0.34 ERA and a .195 opposing batting average. He has a WAC-high eight saves, tied for the 19th best save total in NCAA Div. I, but also four wins, having finished 18 games this year (no other WAC pitcher has finished more than 11 games).
Curtains After Seven
Sacramento State is undefeated this season when leading after the seventh inning. The team is 16-0 when leading after seven innings and has just two losses this year when leading through four (14-2). The team is 17-0 when leading after eight innings and is also 3-0 this year in extra innings.
Sacramento State leads the WAC and is tied for 27th in NCAA Div. I with 34 double plays turned this year. The Hornets turned six double plays in the three-game Chicago State series, including four in the first seven innings on Saturday. Twelve different players have been part of a defensive double play this season, including five pitchers. The team also ranks second in the WAC with a .970 season fielding percentage.
Sophomore center fielder Bronson Grubbs has been superb both in the field and at the plate this year. Among his 105 putouts this year are dozens of sensational catches and he also has an outfield assist and just one error after committing just one error all season last year. His bat has shined as well as he has taken over the team lead with a .321 season batting average with 15 runs scored with hits in 14 of the last 15 games.
The Pen is Mighty
The Hornet bullpen has been strong all season and especially so in WAC play. The back end of the bullpen - junior Chad Perry and senior closer Tyler Beardsley - have combined to allow only one earned run and 12 hits with 19 strikeouts over 19.1 innings. Jonny Palsha has also thrown 3.2 scoreless relief innings in league play and as a whole the Hornet bullpen has a 1.95 ERA, a 0.87 WHIP, and a .174 opposing batting average over 27.2 innings of relief in 12 WAC games.
Sacramento State is 9-2 in 1-run games this year after starting the year 8-0 in those contests. A strong back end of the bullpen and timely hitting have made the Hornets nearly unbeatable in close games, especially on their home field. Of the team's 14 home wins this year are six 1-run victories with two walk-off wins.
Putting the H in DH
Freshman designated hitter Matt Smith has a hit in 25 of the first 30 games he has played in his collegiate career. He opened the season with a 16-game hitting streak, the second longest in the WAC this season, and he also has an RBI in 17 contests this year. He missed a week and a half after getting hit by a pitch March 6 but is third on the team with 20 RBIs on the season. A local product from Placerville, Smith his hitting .307 in his rookie year.
Leaders of the Pack
The Hornets completed a season sweep of Nevada with a 7-2 win last Tuesday in Reno. Senior Chris Lewis was 3-for-5 with 3 RBIs, juniors Gunner Pollman and Brandon Hunley each hit solo home runs and both reached base four times, and junior Tanner Olson allowed just two runs on four hits in six solid innings. The Hornets had a 5-2 win over the Wolf Pack at Raley Field in March as well, with Olson also the winning pitcher in that contest. Former conference foes in the WAC, Sacramento State is now 5-3 against Nevada since the Wolf Pack left the league for the Mountain West following the 2012 season.
Sacramento State began the season with just one scheduled doubleheader but has played three so far due to rain and field conditions. Ironically, the one doubleheader that was originally scheduled, against South Dakota State on March 5, was not played due to weather. The most recent doubleheader, at CSU Bakersfield last Saturday, was actually not completed as the second game was suspended after the eighth inning and completed on Sunday. The Hornets are 3-3 this year in their doubleheader games.
Junior catcher Gunner Pollman leads the WAC with 19 runners caught stealing this year. Last year he threw out 27 base stealers, 10 more than any other conference catcher totaled. He has been named to the watch list for the Johnny Bench Award, an honor presented annually to the top catcher in NCAA Div. I baseball, for the second straight season.