SACRAMENTO, Calif. - For the second consecutive week Sacramento State (16-16, 3-6 WAC) will look to hand a leading WAC team its first conference losses as the Hornets host New Mexico State (21-13, 6-0 WAC) at 6 p.m. Thursday and Friday and noon Saturday at John Smith Field. The Hornets gave Grand Canyon its first league loss last Saturday.
- The 1-0 Hornet win over UC Davis on Tuesday took just one hour and 45 minutes, Sacramento State's shortest home game of the season by 22 minutes. It was the quickest nine-inning game played by the Hornets since a 1-0 home win over Louisiana Tech on April 27, 2013 that lasted 1:42.
- Junior Austin Root made his first start of the season on Tuesday and threw five shutout innings on just 54 pitches with 44 strikes. The four relievers that followed also threw a plethora of strikes as the staff combined to throw just 93 pitches with 72 strikes and only 21 balls without issuing a walk.
- The Hornets lead the WAC in nearly every pitching category including ERA (3.64), opposing batting average (.235), strikeout to walk ratio (2.32), WHIP (1.22), walks allowed per nine innings (3.04) and hits allowed per nine innings (7.94). Hornet pitchers have also hit the fewest batters in the league.
- Sacramento State handed WAC-leading Grand Canyon its first conference loss Saturday and the Hornet pitching staff had a 1.67 ERA while holding the Antelopes to a .192 batting average during the three-games series. The bullpen combined to allow just one run and one walk over 7.2 innings.
- New Mexico State is one of the best offensive teams in the nation, ranking fifth in NCAA Div. I with a .325 team batting average as well as second nationally in triples, sixth in runs per game, and seventh in hits, slugging percentage, and on-base percentage. The Aggies have swept Seattle U and UTRGV.
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 broadcast 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 New Mexico State (21-13, 6-0 WAC)
New Mexico State is one of the best offensive teams in the nation, ranking fifth in NCAA Div. I with a .325 team batting average as well as second nationally in triples (20), sixth in runs per game (8.2), and seventh in hits (386), slugging percentage (.498), and on-base percentage (.418). The Aggies also lead the WAC with 31 home runs and 72 doubles but have a 4.94 team ERA. NM State began WAC play with sweeps at Seattle U and at home over UT Rio Grande Valley and have a 2.94 ERA in six WAC games with Tristen Carranza and Mason Fishback both hitting over .420 in league play. The Aggies have the top-four RBI men in the WAC in Dan Hetzel (39), Austin Botello (37), Carranza (32), and Fishback (28). The Hornets swept the Aggies at home in 2015 but last season New Mexico State earned a home sweep and eliminated the Hornets from the WAC Tournament in a 5-4 win.
Sacramento State beat UC Davis, 1-0, on Tuesday night with its only hit a James Outman home run in the second inning. Both teams had only two base runners through the first eight innings and the game took just one hour and 45 minutes, Sacramento State's shortest home game of the season by 22 minutes. It was the quickest nine-inning game played by the Hornets since a 1-0 home win over Louisiana Tech on April 27, 2013 that lasted just 1:42. Just one week prior Sacramento State and UC Davis played to a 7-6 final in Davis in a game that included both starting pitchers and took 2:59 to complete.
Junior Austin Root made his first start of the season on Tuesday and threw five shutout innings on just 54 pitches with 44 strikes. The four relievers that followed also threw a plethora of strikes as the staff combined to throw just 93 pitches with 72 strikes and only 21 balls. The Hornets struck out five and did not issue a walk for their second walk-free game of the season.
Outman Brings Them In
Sophomore James Outman accounted for the only run of the game on Tuesday while tying for the team lead with his fifth homer of the season. This season he leads the team with 27 runs batted in with 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 24 runs.
Ian Does it All
Junior center fielder Ian Dawkins is the only Hornet that has started every game this season and has reached base in 29 of the 32 games. He reached in each of the first 13 games of the season and had a 14-game hitting streak into WAC play. He leads the team with 25 runs scored and with 15 multi-hit games with a pair of four-hit contests. He also leads the team with eight stolen bases this year while playing outstanding defense with just one error committed. Dawkins is hitting a robust .432 in WAC play.
Limiting the Lopes
Sacramento State handed WAC-leading Grand Canyon its first conference loss last Saturday and the Hornet pitching staff had a 1.67 ERA while holding the Antelopes to a .192 batting average during the three-games series. The Hornet bullpen combined to allow just one run and one walk with seven strikeouts over 7.2 innings in the series while the team's three starters all allowed just two earned runs or fewer. GCU entered the series having hit .351 and averaging more than eight runs per game through its first six WAC games.
The Hornets lead the WAC in nearly every pitching category including ERA (3.64), opposing batting average (.235), strikeout to walk ratio (2.32), WHIP (1.22), walks allowed per nine innings (3.04) and hits allowed per nine innings (7.94). Hornet pitchers have also hit the fewest batters in the league (19) and are third with 223 strikeouts.
Two Two-Homer Games
Over the span of eight days two Hornets had two-homer games. Andrew McWilliam hit two home runs in the first game of the doubleheader at Utah Valley on March 31 before Vinny Esposito hit a pair of two-run homers against Grand Canyon on Saturday. There have now been 75 multi-homer games in program history and McWilliam has two of them, having also hit two in a home win over Chicago State last year.
Through nine Western Athletic Conference (WAC) games Sacramento State is hitting .296 and averaging 6.0 runs per game. The Hornets have 12 homers in nine WAC games and have five starters hitting over .300. Vinny Esposito is hitting .361 and has four home runs and 16 RBIs in just nine WAC games while Ian Dawkins is hitting .432 and Andrew McWilliam is hitting .387 with three homers.
Junior Tanner Olson leads the team with 19 pitching appearances this season and is 3-1 with a 1.72 ERA. Olson has not walked a single batter this season while striking out 13 over 15.2 innings pitched. He has allowed a run in just two of his 17 appearances with seven straight scoreless outings.
Call to the Hall
The Hornets inducted five players and two teams in the Sacramento State Baseball Hall of Fame prior to Saturday's game. Mike Alberghini, who played at Sacramento State from 1967-68, was inducted as well as former players Josh Payne (1997-98), Brandon Marshall (1998-99), David Flores (2005-08), and current assistant coach Tim Wheeler (2007-09). The 1986 team, which finished third at the College World Series, and the 1988 team, which finished as the national runner-up and won a program record 43 games, were also inducted.
Working the Field
Sacramento State leads the WAC while ranking 22nd in NCAA Div. I with a .980 fielding percentage this season. The team has committed multiple errors in just six of 31 games this year and has 17 error-free games. The Hornets have committed just 15 errors in 19 home games this year.
Former Hornet first baseman Rhys Hoskins played his first Triple-A game last Friday, starting for the Lehigh Valley IronPigs in the Philadelphia Phillies organization, and hit his first Triple-A home run on Sunday. Hoskins hit 38 home runs in Double-AA last season and was invited to the Phillies big league Spring Training leading up to the 2017 season.
The Hornets are in the midst of a season long nine-game homestand 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 has an 11-8 home record this season, averaging just under five runs per game with a 3.02 team ERA and .224 opposing batting average through 19 games at John Smith Field.
More than Alright at Night
In their first full season under the lights at John Smith Field the Hornets are 8-4 in home night games and 10-4 overall at night this season. Sacramento State's pitching has been particularly impressive at night with a 2.88 ERA and .197 opposing batting average through 14 night games. The team plays three straight night game starting on Tuesday.
Best in the WAC
Senior pitcher Justin Dillon leads the WAC in WHIP (0.77), opposing batting average (.162), and hits and walks allowed per nine innings and is second in ERA (2.05). The Hornet senior ranks seventh in NCAA Div. I in WHIP and 17th in hits allowed per nine innings after leading the nation in both of those categories earlier this year. Dillon has allowed just 32 hits and 12 walks in 57.0 innings pitched with 53 strikeouts and has gone at least six innings in every start.
WHIP it Good
Sacramento State pitchers lead the WAC and rank 25th in NCAA Div. I with a 1.22 WHIP (Walks and Hits per Innings Pitched) this season. The Hornets are also 28th nationally with 3.04 walks allowed per nine innings and 35th with 7.94 hits allowed per nine innings so far this season.
Sacramento State earned its seventh come-from-behind win this season against Pacific on March 28. 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.
Head Coach Reggie Christiansen won his 200th game at Sacramento State in the first win in the Hornets' doubleheader sweep March 31 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.
Freshman Parker Brahms made four straight quality starts to open his collegiate career. He has a team-high four wins and a 3.33 ERA this season, totaling 34 strikeouts and just 16 walks in 48.2 innings pitched with a .222 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 74-36 at home over the last five years. The team is 11-8 at home this year and has had at least 16 home wins in five straight seasons.
Sacramento State is third in the WAC with 30 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 eight steals.
Sacramento State's first 22 games of the year were against schools from outside of California, representing seven other states. The Hornets have played three midweek teams against California schools in the last two weeks and have series against CSU Bakersfield and San Diego later this season. Sacramento State is one of 24 Div. I baseball programs in the state of California.
After starting the season injured senior Max Karnos has allowed just one earned run or fewer in two of his three WAC starts. He was 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, finishing the year 7-3 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 in league games last season.