SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The Sacramento State baseball team will welcome both Gonzaga and Milwaukee to John Smith Field for a three-team series this weekend. In total, the Hornets will play four times in three days starting Saturday night.
First pitch for Saturday's game one is set for 7:00 pm.
How To Listen
All four of Sacramento State's games this weekend can be heard live online at HornetSports.com/Radio with baseball play-by-play broadcaster Anthony Rifenburg. Live stats will be available online at HornetStats.com while in-game updates will be provided on Twitter, @SacStBaseball.
- Vinny Esposito had three hits in Sacramento State's last game, matching his career high. Esposito has three hits in a game 11 times over the course of his career, with the last on May 5 of last season. Esposito enters this weekend's games with a team-leading .432 OBP.
- Parker Brahms threw just one inning in his last start at Pacific. The sophomore righty was limited in order to start again Saturday against Milwaukee. In his two previous starts, Brahms pitched 6.0 and 7.0 innings, striking out nine each time.
- Members of the Horizon League, Milwaukee owns a 2-5 record heading into the weekend. Through their first seven games, the Panthers have not yet played at home, going 1-2 on the road and 1-3 at neutral sites.
- Gonzaga is a member of the WCC and enters this weekend's series with a 3-4 overall record. Like Milwaukee, the Bulldogs have also not played at home this season and are 1-2 on the road and 2-2 at neutral sites.
By The Numbers
0: Runs allowed by sophomore starter Parker Brahms over his first 14.0 innings of work this season (three starts).
4: Sacrifice bunts so far this season by shortstop Josh Urps. His four sac bunts are the fourth most in all of NCAA Div. I.
7: Straight games with a hit for freshman Steven Moretto. He leads the team with a .346 batting average in seven games.
Scouting The Panthers
- Through seven games this season, the Milwaukee Panthers are 2-5 with a .269 batting average and a 5.86 ERA.
- Members of the Horizon League, the Panthers were picked to finish the season third in the six-team conference.
- Last season, Milwaukee finished the year with a 22-32 record, including 10-18 in conference.
- This weekend's games will be the first matchup between these two teams.
- All seven of Milwaukee's games so far this season have been either on the road or at a neutral site. Milwaukee does not play a home game until Wednesday, April 4.
- Milwaukee had two players taken in the MLB draft last season: Daulton Varsho, who was drafted 68th overall by the Arizona Diamondbacks, and dam Reuss, who was selected in the 29th round by the Oakland Athletics.
Scouting The Bulldogs
- The Gonzaga Bulldog enter this weekend with a 3-4 record, a .237 team batting average, and a 3.39 team ERA through seven games.
- Gonzaga was picked to finish fourth in the WCC in the conference's preseason coaches poll.
- Last season, the Bulldogs finished 33-20, including 20-7 in WCC play. They ended the year as regular season co-conference champions, tied with both BYU and Loyola Marymount (also 20-7).
- Their 2017 campaign came to an end with back-to-back losses to BYU in the WCC tournament.
- This weekend's games will be the first between Sacramento State and Gonzaga since the 2010 season, a game Sacramento State lost, 8-2. Sacramento State only win against Gonzaga came in 2008.
- Like Milwaukee, the Bulldogs have yet to play a game on their home field this season. They are 2-2 on neutral fields and 1-2 on the road.
Schedule Shake Up
Sacramento State's originally scheduled four-game series against Washington State in Pullman, Washington has been cancelled due to weather conditions in Washington. In it's place, the Hornets will play four home games at John Smith Field this weekend, starting Saturday, March. 3. Both the Gonzaga Bulldogs and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Panthers will travel to Sacramento for a three-team series.
Sacramento State will play Milwaukee on Saturday at 7:00 pm, Gonzaga on Sunday at 3:00 pm, Milwaukee on Sunday at 7:00 pm, and Gonzaga on Monday at noon.
Brahms on the Bump
Saturday's starting pitcher Parker Brahms was lights out in his Opening Day start, throwing six shutout innings against Washington while striking out nine. He was even more impressive in his second start, throwing seven more scoreless frames while again punching out nine. He threw just one inning Tuesday in preparation for this weekend. Through 14 innings, Brahms has a conference-leading 0.57 WHIP, a 12.21 K/9, and a 19.00 K:BB ratio.
Sacramento State has enjoyed the big inning this season, scoring four or more in an inning four times already. The team's five-run third inning Tuesday against Pacific was their highest scoring inning of the season. In games in which they score four or more in a single frame, they Hornets are 2-1.
Worth the Sacrifice
As a team, Sacramento State has four sacrifice hits and four sacrifice flies through just eight games. Josh Urps leads the WAC and is second in all of NCAA Div. I with four sacrifice bunts.
Freshman catcher Dylan McPhillips has two sacrifice flies this year, the most in the conference and 18th most in the nation.
Sacramento State Stealers
Sacramento State is 15-for-17 in stolen base attempts this season, leading the WAC in the category and ranking 15th in all of NCAA Div. I baseball. Matt Smith leads the team with six stolen bases, the most in the conference and 10th most in the nation. Seven different Hornets have swiped a bag this season, including four (Smith, Vinny Esposito, James Outman, Alec de Watteville) who have stolen at least two.
Andrew McWilliam made his return to the Hornets lineup on Tuesday at Pacific, going 1-for-5 with a run scored as the designated hitter. McWilliam missed the first seven games of the season due to injury. Last year, McWilliam hit .277 for the Hornets.
Back At Home
After three games away from John Smith Field, Sacramento State returns home for four games in three days. So far this season, the Hornets are 2-3 in five games at home. They are hitting .198 and average 3.6 runs per game in those games.
I Am Root
After starting his first two games of the season, right-hander Austin Root came out of the bullpen for Sacramento State in their win against Pacific on Tuesday. Root came into the game for the seventh inning, ultimately pitching three shutout innings to record the three-inning save. Last season, Root appeared in relief 28 times and had three saves.
Dawkins Front and Center
After missing three games, Dawkins returned to the starting lineup Tuesday at Pacific, batting leadoff and playing centerfield. He went 1-for-5 in his return with a run scored, an RBI, and a walk. He also played a clean centerfield in his return. Last season, Dawkins led the Hornets in games and games started (61) while leading the team in hits (89) and batting average (.340).
Coming Up Clutch
Sacramento State went 5-for-13 (.385) with runners in scoring position on Tuesday against Pacific. The performance was a big step forward from their season average, where they have struggled with runners in scoring position. Even with Tuesday's effort, the Hornets are just 13-for-80 (.163) with runners in scoring position.
The Hornets are hitting .351 (26-for-74) when leading off an inning. Vinny Esposito, typically the team's cleanup hitter this season, has had the most opportunities, leading off an inning 12 times and reaching in six of those chances. Dylan McPhillips has also fared well, reaching four of the seven times he leads off an inning.
Seven Straight for Moretto
With his 2-for-3 effort Tuesday at Pacific, Steven Moretto has now hit safely in seven straight games to start his Hornets career. Moretto missed the team's season-opener, but since taking over at third base, he is leading the team with a .346 batting average and a .615 slugging percentage. Overall, he is 9-for-26 with a double, two home runs, six RBIs, and three walks. He is also 1-for-1 in stolen base attempts.
All five of Sacramento State's home runs this season have been solo home runs. Last season, the Hornets never hit more than three consecutive solo shots.
Playing Small Ball
Sacramento State racked up 12 hits in their last game, but all 12 of their hits were singles. They also drew seven walks and were hit by a pitch twice in addition to a sacrifice bunt and sacrifice fly. James Outman added a stolen base as the Hornets played station to station en route to scoring nine runs.
Vinny "Three Hits" Esposito
Vinny Esposito led the Hornets with three hits on Tuesday, giving him his 12th career three-hit game. Although others have more hits in a single game, no other active Sacramento State baseball player has more three-hit games over their career than Esposito.
Relying on the New Guys
Sacramento State's newcomers have already made an impression this season, receiving multiple opportunities through the season's first eight games. Six first year pitchers have already combined for 17 appearances, throwing 31 innings. In the field, four first year position players have combined for 30 games, including 27 starts. Newcomers Steven Moretto, Dylan McPhillips, Keith Torres, and Josh Urps are regulars in the starting lineup for the Hornets.
Instability at the Top
Sacramento State has used four different lead off hitters through eight games - Ian Dawkins, Bronson Grubbs, Keith Torres, and Matt Smith. Only Dawkins (3-for-22 as a leadoff hitter) has more than one game at the spot, while Grubbs (1-5), Smith (1-4), and Torres (1-3) each have one. Last season, Dawkins hit leadoff in 50 of 61 games.
WAC Preseason Coach Poll
The Hornets were picked to finish third in the WAC in the 2018 Preseason Coaches Poll. They received 51 points, including one first place vote, finishing behind first-place Grand Canyon (61 points, five votes) and New Mexico State (54 points, two votes). The rest of the conference breaks down as follows: 4. Seattle U (46), 5. CSU Bakersfield (32), 6. Utah Valley (30), 7. UT Rio Grande Valley (23), 8. Northern Colorado (19), 9. Chicago State (8).
All-Conference Preseason Team
Sacramento State had three players named to the 2018 All-WAC Preseason Team, the most since they had five named to the 2015 team. This year's trio are Vinny Esposito (First Base), Ian Dawkins (Outfield), and James Outman (Outfield). The selection is Esposito's second (also 2016).
Six Times Thirty
With 32 wins in 2017, Sacramento State recorded it's sixth consecutive 30-win season, the longest such streak since a string of nine straight 30-win seasons from 1985-1993. The team has also recorded double-digit conference wins in each of the last six years.
Best In the West
Sacramento State and baseball powerhouse Cal State Fullerton are the only two NCAA Div. I baseball programs in California to have won 30 or more games in each of the last six seasons. They have just 35 fewer wins during that stretch than Cal State Fullerton.
-- HornetSports --