SACRAMENTO, Calif. - After a brief return home and a 9-1 win over Pacific Tuesday night, Sacramento State (12-11, 0-3 WAC) continues Western Athletic Conference (WAC) play at Utah Valley (8-15, 3-0 WAC). The teams will play at 5 p.m. Pacific time on Thursday and Friday and 11 a.m. Pacific on Saturday.
- Sacramento State has scored at least five runs in four straight games and is hitting .329 during that stretch. The Hornets have averaged 6.5 runs per game with a .404 on-base percentage and .438 slugging percentage with 10 extra-base hits. Seven starters are hitting .300 or better in the stretch.
- Head coach Reggie Christiansen is one win shy of 200 victories in his seventh season leading Sacramento State. He earned his 300th overall win as a head coach earlier this season and can join former coaches Cal Boyes and John Smith as 200-game winners leading the Hornet baseball program.
- Senior pitcher Justin Dillon leads NCAA Div. I with a 0.57 WHIP and 3.64 hits allowed per nine innings. The Hornet senior also leads the WAC with a .121 opposing batting average and is second with a 1.93 ERA, having allowed just 17 hits and seven walks in 42.0 innings pitched this year.
- In their first full season under the lights at John Smith Field the Hornets are 6-2 in home night games and 8-2 overall at night this season. Sacramento State's pitching has been particularly impressive at night with a 2.93 ERA and .190 opposing batting average through 10 night games.
- Utah Valley, which has played just four home games this season, entered WAC play with a 5-15 record but swept UT Rio Grande Valley on the road last weekend. The Wolverines outscored the Vaqueros 15-8 in the series and allowed just five earned runs but for the season have a 6.40 team ERA.
All three games of the Utah Valley series will stream live on HornetSports.com/Radio with Anthony Rifenburg providing the play-by-play call. Thursday's game will be video streamed on the WAC Digital Network and Friday and Saturday will be video streamed on WolverineGreen.com/watch. Links for the audio and video broadcasts and live stats are available above and on the baseball schedule page on hornetsports.com. Follow @SacStBaseball on twitter for in-game updates and see more on the official team pages on facebook and instagram.
Scouting Utah Valley (8-15, 3-0 WAC)
Utah Valley entered WAC play with a 5-15 record but swept UT Rio Grande Valley on the road. The Wolverines outscored the Vaqueros 15-8 in the series and allowed just five earned runs, with the UVU pitching staff recording a 1.61 ERA as the bullpen did not allow a run over 11.2 innings of relief. For the season Utah Valley, which has played just four home games, is hitting .250 and has a 6.40 team ERA allowing an average of 7.1 runs per game. The squad was swept by both Wichita State and Washington State in the non-conference season. Trevor Peterson is hitting .330 with 18 runs scored and Jackson Overland is hitting .329 and leads the WAC and ranks 12th in NCAA Div. I with 12 doubles. Closer Patrick Wolfe has a 2.38 ERA and leads the league with five saves. The Hornets are 18-14 all-time against the Wolverines but the teams have played just six games in Orem.
Sacramento State has scored at least five runs in four straight games and is hitting .329 during that stretch. The Hornets have averaged 6.5 runs per game with a .404 on-base percentage and .438 slugging percentage with 10 extra-base hits. Seven starters are hitting better than .300 with three hitting .400 or better, with Ian Dawkins hitting .471 and Andrew McWilliam hitting .467. Vinny Esposito has hit .400 with eight RBIs and Dawkins has scored six runs during the stretch.
More than Alright at Night
In their first full season under the lights at John Smith Field the Hornets are now 6-2 in home night games and 8-2 overall at night this season. Sacramento State's pitching has been particularly impressive at night with a 2.93 ERA and .190 opposing batting average through 10 night games. The team will play its first two WAC night games Thursday and Friday at Utah Valley.
Head Coach Reggie Christiansen is one win away from his 200th victory at Sacramento State, as in his seventh season he has a 199-182 record with the Hornets. Christiansen reached his 300th overall career victory in just 12 years as a head coach when the Hornets beat Northern Kentucky on Feb. 26.
Sacramento State earned its seventh come-from-behind win this season against Pacific on Tuesday. The Hornets trailed just 1-0 and took the lead for good in the second inning after they rallied from an early deficit to win in the late innings three times in the last two weeks. The Hornets trailed 4-1 after the first inning at Nevada on March 14, trailed 2-0 at home to Minnesota after the third last March 16, and were down 2-0 after one inning at Wichita State last Wednesday but came back to win all three of those games. The team is 7-8 in games when the opponent scores first and has lost just three times when scoring first.
The Nation's Best
Senior pitcher Justin Dillon leads NCAA Div. I with a 0.57 WHIP and 3.64 hits allowed per nine innings. No other qualified pitcher has a WHIP below 0.62 while the next best hits allowed per nine innings mark in the nation is 4.15. The Hornet senior also leads the WAC with a .121 opposing batting average and is second with a 1.93 ERA. Dillon has allowed just 17 hits and seven walks in 42.0 innings pitched with 36 strikeouts and has gone at least six innings in every start.
Working the Field
Sacramento State leads the WAC while ranking 17th in NCAA Div. I with a .981 fielding percentage this season. The team has committed multiple errors in just three of 23 games this year and has eight starters with one or fewer errors all season.
First Intrastate Game
Tuesday's game against Pacific was the first this season for the Hornets against another school from California. The team's first 22 games of the year were against schools from outside of California, representing seven other states. The Hornets have 14 total games against other California schools scheduled through the remainder of the regular season with series against CSU Bakersfield and San Diego. Sacramento State is one of 24 Div. I baseball programs in the state of California.
Primarily hitting in the leadoff spot, junior center fielder Ian Dawkins has reached base in all but one game this season. He reached in each of the first 13 games of the season and is hitting .354 overall with a .436 on-base percentage. He leads the team with 10 multi-hit games with a pair of four-hit contests and is currently on a career-high nine game hitting streak.
Hitting the Road
Sacramento State played 13 of its first 18 games of the season at home but is now in a stretch with eight of nine games, including the first two WAC series, to be played on the road. The Hornets have three road wins this year and have won at least 10 road games in each of the last six seasons.
After starting the season injured senior Max Karnos put together his best start of the year on Sunday, allowing just three hits with three strikeouts over five scoreless innings. The outing was the longest of the year for Karnos, who was one of the best starters in the WAC last season and earned all-WAC first team honors in his first year as a Hornet. He finished 7-3 last year with a 3.38 ERA, fifth best in the WAC. Karnos was especially effective in conference as he had the led all starting pitchers in WAC games going 6-2 with a 2.27 ERA.
The Hornets opened Western Athletic Conference (WAC) play last week with the first of eight series against conference foes. Sacramento State was one of four teams in the league that began conference play with a winning record. The WAC has nine baseball-playing members this year, down one after North Dakota's program was discontinued following the 2016 season.
PJ Floyd has taken over as Sacramento State's starting second baseman and has been outstanding, hitting .321 with two home runs, nine RBIs, and 14 runs scored. He had a career-long nine game hitting streak and reached base in 13 straight games into the Northern Colorado series. Floyd homered in the ninth inning in both games of Sacramento State's doubleheader at No. 11 Washington and has a team-best .536 slugging percentage with a .433 on-base percentage this year.
WHIP it Good
Sacramento State pitchers rank 30th in NCAA Div. I with a 1.22 WHIP (Walks and Hits per Innings Pitched) this season. The Hornets are also 37th nationally with 3.03 walks allowed per nine innings and 42nd with 7.92 hits allowed per nine innings so far this season.
Outman Brings Them In
Sophomore James Outman leads the team with 21 runs batted in. Outman has five multi-RBI games with three 3-RBI games and a 4-RBI performance. He totaled 11 RBIs in the Northern Kentucky series and is also tied for the team lead with 19 runs scored.
Beating the Big Guys
Penn State was the 11th Power 5 school that the Hornets have defeated in the last five seasons. The win over Minnesota was the team's second over the Gophers in four years as Sacramento State had at least one win against all four Power 5 teams it played this season (Washington, Washington State, Penn State, Minnesota). The Hornets also had wins over LSU, Auburn, Texas, Texas A&M, Arizona State, Oregon State, and Utah over the four previous seasons.
Sacramento State leads the WAC in ERA (3.74), opposing batting average (.234), strikeout to walk ratio (2.30), WHIP (1.22), and walks allowed per nine innings (3.03) and is second in hits allowed per nine innings (7.92). In 2016 the team was second in the WAC in ERA, WHIP, and opposing batting average.
Through the Ranks
Sacramento State's 7-1 win at No. 11 Washington gave the program a win over a top-20 team for the fourth consecutive season. The Hornets now have seven total wins over ranked teams in the last four seasons. The squad beat No. 4 Oregon State, No. 18 Arizona State, No. 21 Texas A&M, and No. 24 Fresno State in 2014 and topped No. 18 UC Santa Barbara and No. 5 LSU in the last two years. The team was also an out away from a win at No. 5 Texas Tech and pushed No. 15 Iowa to 18 innings in a narrow loss in 2015.
Sacramento State is tied for the WAC lead with 26 stolen bases after leading the league and ranking 68th in the nation with 70 stolen bases last year. The Hornets had at least one steal in 36 games last year with multiple steals in 15. This year Sacramento State was a perfect 5-for-5 in stolen base attempts in the Penn State series and Ian Dawkins leads the team with six steals.
Senior Justin Dillon threw the first no-hitter in Sacramento State's Div. I history on Feb. 23 in a 2-0 shutout of Northern Kentucky. He issued just one walk and had a career-high 13 strikeouts, facing just two batters over the minimum with a walk in the fifth inning and a Hornet fielding error in the ninth. He was dominant right from the start, striking out the first five batters he faced and not allowing a base runner before NKU second baseman Kyle Colletta drew a two-out walk in the fifth inning. Dillon struck out at least one batter in six of nine innings, including two strikeouts in the ninth. In all he got 10 ground ball outs, three fly outs, and a soft line out to shortstop to go with his 13 strikeouts.
After his no-hitter Justin Dillon was named the Div. I National Pitcher of the Week by the NCBWA, Perfect Game, and College Sports Madness and was the first player listed on Collegiate Baseball's National Player of the Week list. Dillon was also WAC Pitcher of the Week and Federated Insurance Sacramento State Student-Athlete of the Week.
Sacramento State's 7-1 record through eight games was its best start to a season in the program's Div. I history. Over the first eight games the Hornets averaged seven runs per game and held the opposition to a .184 batting average with a 2.43 team ERA. With the strong start the Hornets received votes in the NCBWA national Top-25 poll on Feb. 27.
Three Games, Three Wins
Sacramento State sophomore reliever Alex Dentoni earned the win in each of his first three pitching appearances as a Hornet. Dentoni also has two saves this year with a 2.75 ERA and .230 opposing batting average in nine appearances this season.
Freshman Parker Brahms made four straight quality starts to open his collegiate career. He has two wins and a 3.37 ERA this season, totaling 27 strikeouts and just 11 walks in 34.2 innings pitched with a .219 opposing batting average. He earned his first collegiate win allowing just three hits and one walk with nine strikeouts in seven shutout innings in the 10-0 Hornet victory over Northern Kentucky.
Happy at Home
The Hornets have had winning home records in four straight seasons and are 72-33 at home over the last five years. The team is 9-5 at home this year and has had at least 16 home wins in five straight seasons.