SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Sacramento State (14-14, 2-4 WAC) hosts its first league series of the season against the conference's current leader facing Grand Canyon (12-16, 6-0 WAC) for three games this weekend. The teams are scheduled to play at 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday and noon on Sunday.
The Hornets will honor their alumni and induct five players and two teams into the program's Hall of Fame in a ceremony prior to Saturday's game at John Smith Field at 5:15.
- Sacramento State leads the WAC in nearly every pitching category including ERA (3.99), opposing batting average (.243), strikeout to walk ratio (2.22), WHIP (1.24), walks allowed per nine innings (3.15) and hits allowed per nine innings (8.26). Hornet pitchers have also hit the fewest batters.
- Through six Western Athletic Conference (WAC) games Sacramento State is hitting .326 and averaging 7.3 runs per game. The Hornets have nine homers in six WAC games and have five starters hitting over .330, with Andrew McWilliam hitting .480 and Vinny Esposito hitting .440 in league.
- Sacramento State enters play on Friday with a 9-6 home record this season, averaging over five runs per game with a 3.48 team ERA and .235 opposing batting average through 15 games. The team is 6-3 in nine home night games in its first full season under the lights at John Smith Field.
- Senior pitcher Justin Dillon leads the WAC in WHIP (0.72), opposing batting average (.156), and hits and walks allowed per nine innings and is second in ERA (1.98). The Hornet senior ranks sixth in NCAA Div. I in WHIP and 11th in hits allowed per nine innings though seven starts this year.
- Grand Canyon began WAC play with a pair of home sweeps, winning all three games against both CSU Bakersfield and Northern Colorado. In six WAC games the Lopes have hit .351 and averaged more than eight runs per game with a 2.25 team ERA but the team is just 3-12 on the road this year.
All Sacramento State home games stream live for free on HornetSports.com/Radio with Anthony Rifenburg and Noah Alvarez on the call. 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 Grand Canyon (12-16, 6-0 WAC)
Grand Canyon began WAC play with a pair of home sweeps, winning all three games against both CSU Bakersfield and Northern Colorado. In the sweep of Northern Colorado last weekend the Antelopes outscored the Bears 31-5, with the finale ending in seven innings via the WAC 10-run rule. GCU opened the season winning 2-of-3 games in a home series with No. 22 Oklahoma State but the team is just 3-12 on the road this year. Grand Canyon is second in the league, behind the Hornets, with a .972 fielding percentage this season and is hitting .283 as a team. In six WAC games the Lopes have hit .351 and averaged more than eight runs per game with a 2.25 team ERA. Jake Wong is 3-1 with a WAC-leading 1.36 ERA and Austin Bull is third in the WAC hitting .377. The Hornets are 7-2 all-time in home games against Grand Canyon and won 2-of-3 at GCU last year.
Sacramento State has scored at least five runs in eight of the last nine games and is hitting .317 during that stretch. The Hornets have averaged 6.6 runs per game with a .376 on-base percentage and .491 slugging percentage with 32 extra-base hits, including 10 home runs. Seven starters are hitting better than .300 with three hitting over .400, with Ian Dawkins hitting .436. Vinny Esposito has 13 RBIs in the last nine games and Andrew McWilliam has three homers.
The Hornets lead the WAC in nearly every pitching category including ERA (3.99), opposing batting average (.243), strikeout to walk ratio (2.22), WHIP (1.24), walks allowed per nine innings (3.15) and hits allowed per nine innings (8.26). Hornet pitchers have also hit the fewest batters in the league (18) and are third with 193 strikeouts.
Ian Dawkins and Vinny Esposito both take long hitting streaks into play this week. Dawkins has a hit in 14 straight games, tied for the 15th longest hitting streak in program history and one game shy of the longest hitting streak in the WAC this season. Esposito is on a nine game hitting streak, one game behind his career long, and is hitting .405 with five multi-hit games in the stretch.
Through six Western Athletic Conference (WAC) games Sacramento State is hitting .326 and averaging 7.3 runs per game. The Hornets have nine homers in six WAC games and have five starters hitting over .330. Andrew McWilliam is hitting .480 with three home runs and Vinny Esposito has hit .440 with two homers and 12 RBIs in just six league games.
The Hornets began a season long nine-game homestand hosting Fresno State on Wednesday. The team is scheduled to play nine home games over a 13 day stretch with home series against Grand Canyon and New Mexico State and individual games against Fresno State, UC Davis, and San Francisco. Sacramento State enters play on Friday with a 9-6 home record this season, averaging over five runs per game with a 3.48 team ERA and .235 opposing batting average through 15 games at John Smith Field.
Working the Field
Sacramento State leads the WAC while ranking 19th in NCAA Div. I with a .980 fielding percentage this season. The team has committed multiple errors in just five of 28 games this year and has 14 error-free games. The Hornets have committed just one error in their last four WAC games.
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 .364 overall with a .437 on-base percentage. He leads the team with 13 multi-hit games with a pair of four-hit contests and is currently on a career-high 14 game hitting streak, his second hitting streak of at least seven games this year.
More than Alright at Night
In their first full season under the lights at John Smith Field the Hornets are 6-3 in home night games and 8-3 overall at night this season. Sacramento State's pitching has been particularly impressive at night with a 2.39 ERA and .208 opposing batting average through 11 night games. The team will play its first two WAC night games Friday and Saturday hosting Grand Canyon.
Best in the WAC
Senior pitcher Justin Dillon leads the WAC in WHIP (0.72), opposing batting average (.156), and hits and walks allowed per nine innings and is second in ERA (1.98). The Hornet senior ranks sixth in NCAA Div. I in WHIP and 11th in hits allowed per nine innings after leading the nation in both of those categories earlier this year. Dillon has allowed just 27 hits and nine walks in 50.0 innings pitched with 43 strikeouts and has gone at least six innings in every start.
Head Coach Reggie Christiansen won his 200th game at Sacramento State in the first win in the Hornets' doubleheader sweep last Saturday at Utah Valley. Christiansen reached 200 Sacramento State wins in less than six and a half seasons as head coach, winning his 200th game with just 182 losses. Christiansen earned his 300th overall career victory in 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 last 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 previous 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 on March 22 but came back to win all three of those games. The team is 7-9 in games when the opponent scores first and has lost just five times when scoring first.
WHIP it Good
Sacramento State pitchers lead the WAC and rank 46th in NCAA Div. I with a 1.27 WHIP (Walks and Hits per Innings Pitched) this season. The Hornets are also 42nd nationally with 3.15 walks allowed per nine innings and 56th with 8.26 hits allowed per nine innings so far this season.
Happy at Home
The Hornets have had winning home records in four straight seasons and are 72-34 at home over the last five years. The team is 9-6 at home this year and has had at least 16 home wins in five straight seasons.
PJ Floyd has taken over as Sacramento State's starting second baseman and has been outstanding, hitting .299 with three home runs, 11 RBIs, and 17 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 .494 slugging percentage with a .407 on-base percentage this year.
Sacramento State is tied for second in the WAC with 28 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.
First Intrastate Game
Last 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.
Outman Brings Them In
Sophomore James Outman leads the team with 24 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 second on the team with 21 runs scored.
After starting the season injured senior Max Karnos put together his best start of the year at Northern Colorado, 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.