SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The Sacramento State baseball team heads to Arizona to take on the conference-leading Grand Canyon Antelopes this weekend in a series with potential postseason implications.
The Hornets (27-20, 13-5 WAC) are just one-game back of the first-place Lopes (27-21, 14-4 WAC) and have been for most of the last three weeks. Sacramento State has an opportunity to take the top spot in the conference for the first time this season.
The series kicks off on Friday, May 11 with a 6:00 pm PT first pitch. Saturday's game will also start at 6:00 pm while Sunday's is scheduled for a noon start.
Watch The Hornets Live
This weekend's series against Grand Canyon will stream live online on WACSports.com/watch. You can also catch all the action with play-by-play broadcaster Anthony Rifenburg via HornetSports.com/radio. Live stats will be available on HornetStats.com while in-game updates will be provided on Twitter, @SacStBaseball.
All links can be found by visiting the 2018 Baseball Schedule on HornetSports.com.
- Sacramento State enters this weekend's series just one game back of the conference-leading Lopes. They have an opportunity to take the top spot in the WAC for the first time this season with a sweep and can pull even with GCU by winning the series.
- The Hornets have won their last eight conference series, including six this season (two at the end of 2017). The Lopes have won 15 straight conference series, the longest streak in the nation. One of those streaks must end this weekend.
- With a 5-2 win over UC Davis on Tuesday, the Hornets swept the Causeway Classic series against the Aggies for the first time since 2015. Since the 2012 season, Sacramento State has swept the Aggies four times and have been swept once.
- Tanner Dalton recorded his 10th save of the season with two shutout innings against UC Davis on Tuesday. Dalton's 10 saves are tops in the WAC and are tied for the fourth most by a Hornets pitcher in a single season. He is six back of the all-time record of 17.
- Grand Canyon enters this weekend's showdown with a 27-21 overall record, including a 14-4 mark in the WAC. The Lopes are coming off a rough 20-6 loss on the road at Arizona but have won three of their last five and six of their last 10.
By The Numbers
14: Strikeouts for Parker Brahms in his last start. He has struck out 14 twice this year and has a WAC-leading 95 for the season.
10: Saves for Tanner Dalton, tied for 4th-most in a single season in school history. He is 7 back of the single season record.
8: Consecutive conference series wins dating back to last season. They are 22-6 (.786) against WAC opponents in that time.
Scouting The Lopes
- Grand Canyon University comes into this weekend's series with a 27-21 overall recording, including the WAC's best record at 14-4.
- The Lopes are coming off a brutal 20-6 loss at Arizona, but have won six of their last 10 while averaging over seven runs per game in that stretch.
- GCU is hitting .289 this season, fourth best in the conference. They rank in the top three in the conference in most offensive categories, including runs (3rd, 309), hits (479, 3rd), RBIs (270, 3rd), stolen bases (63, 1st), and more.
- On the mound, the Lopes own a 5.16 ERA. Opposing teams are hitting .278 against Grand Canyon this season.
- Grand Canyon was picked to finish first in the WAC, receiving five of nine possible first place votes and finishing with 61 total points.
- The Lopes had three players named to the WAC Preseason Team, tied with the Hornets for the second most (NM State, 4).
Against Grand Canyon
This is the first and only series between the Hornets and Lopes this season. Since 1991, Sacramento State is 12-9 against Grand Canyon. Since the Lopes joined the WAC in 2014, the Hornets are just 5-7 against them. During that same time, Sacramento State has gone 3-3 in two series in Phoenix. Last year, Grand Canyon took two-of-three from the Hornets in Sacramento.
Sweeping the Causeway
Sacramento State defeated the visiting UC Davis Aggies, 5-2, on Tuesday. With the win, the Hornets swept the home-and-home series from the Aggies for the first time since the 2015 season and the fourth total since 2012. Sacramento State hit two home runs in the win, including a pinch-hit solo shot by Andrew McWilliam, while the bullpen pieced together an excellent outing - including eight shutout innings - in the win.
Depending on Dalton
With two scoreless innings on Tuesday, Tanner Dalton recorded his conference-leading 10th save of the season. Dalton's 10 saves are the most by a Hornets pitcher since Tyler Beardsley recorded 11 during the 2016 season. With 10 saves, Dalton is now tied for fourth for most saves in a single season. Two players are tied for second with 11 saves while the school leader, Sutter McLoughlin, recorded 17 saves in 2013.
Piling Up The Ks
Sophomore starter Parker Brahms struck out 14 batters in his last start, the second time this season he has struck out 14 in one game. Brahms, who set the program record for strikeouts in a single game with 14 on April 13 vs. Northern Colorado, matched that record Sunday. The right-hander has a conference-leading 95 strikeouts and is tied for eighth for most strikeouts in a single season in school history. He is just 24 back of the all-time record for strikeouts in a single season, held by Erik Bennet (1989) and Mike Ebby (1995), with 119.
With two hits in Tuesday's 5-2 win over UC Davis, Matt Smith extended his multi-hit streak to five games. The sophomore has two hits in each of his last five games and now has two or more hits in 16 games this season. During the five-game stretch, Smith is hitting .435 (10-for-23).
Conference Series Streaks
With another series win this past weekend against Seattle U, the Hornets have now won six consecutive conference series this season and eight straight dating back to last season. Since the start of their eight-series streak, the Hornets are 22-6 against WAC opponents (including last year's postseason), good for a .786 winning percentage. Their opponent this weekend, Grand Canyon, has won 15 consecutive conference series, the longest such streak in the nation. The last time the Lopes lost a WAC series was May 12-15, 2016 at Sacramento State.
Five Is Good
They Hornets are 26-6 this season when holding their opponents to five runs or fewer this season. Sacramento State has won just one game this year when allowing their opponent to score six or more runs, going 1-14 in those games.
Two Is Better
The Sacramento State pitching staff has held opposing teams to two runs or fewer and incredible 23 of 47 games (49%). Among those 23 games are seven shutout wins, most in the conference and tied for third most in the nation. In those 23 games in which the Hornets have allowed two runs or fewer, they are 22-1. Their lone loss came on Feb. 23 at home, 2-0 against San Francisco.
Home Run Leaders
Sacramento State has hit 40 home runs in 47 games so far this season, putting them on pace for 46 over the course of their 54 game season. Their 40 long balls are second most in the WAC. They are led by James Outman, whose 10 home runs are most in the conference. Just behind him is PJ Floyd, who hit his ninth home run of the season on Tuesday. The duo is 1 and 2 in the WAC.
More About Homers
With two home runs over the weekend, Sacramento State hit the 40 home run mark as a team, giving them back-to-back seasons with at least 40 home runs. The Hornets last hit 40+ home runs in back-to-back seasons in 2009-10. Those two seasons were part of a four-season streak in which the Hornets hit 40+ homers (2007-10).
Looking At 30
Sacramento State has won 30 games in each of the last six seasons and is one of just two California teams to have achieved that feat (also, Cal State Fullerton). The Hornets have 27 wins so far this season and need to go 3-4 over their seven remaining regular season games to reach the 30-win mark. Should they clinch a spot in the postseason, they will have at least two more games, as well.
In A Pinch
Andrew McWilliam crushed a solo home run in a pinch-hit opportunity in Tuesday's win. The pinch hit at bat was his second of the season and he is now 2-for-2. Bronson Grubbs is also 2-for-2 as a pinch hitter. For the season, the Hornets are 4-for-10 in pinch-hit opportunities.
Torres Going Streaking
Freshman infielder Keith Torres is currently riding a career-best nine-game hit streak. The streak started on April 22 at CSU Bakersfield. Over that stretch, Torres is 13-for-30 (.433). He has also drawn six walks and has been hit by a pitch, giving him a .529 on base percentage during the streak. Torres has two hits in four of the nine games and has scored five runs while driving in another four. His nine-game hit streak is the third longest on the team this season.
Austin Roberts threw another scoreless inning in Tuesday's win over UC Davis, giving him 10 consecutive outings without allowing an earned run. Over that 10-game stretch, Roberts has thrown 18.2 innings. He has given up seven hits, walked three, and allowed one unearned run to score. He has struck out 25 in that time, good for a 12.1 K/9. The last time Roberts allowed an earned run was over a month ago on April 10 vs. Pacific. For the season, Roberts owns a 1.95 ERA and a 9.7 K/9, both second best on the club. His .187 batting average against is the top mark among Hornets pitchers.
Randall on a Roll
Freshman pitcher Scott Randall made his first Friday home start last weekend. He threw a career-high six innings and allowed just one run on five hits while picking up his fifth win of the season. Over his last six starts, Randall has allowed just five earned runs over 28.0 innings, good for a 1.61 ERA. He has struck out 16 over that stretch compared to just three walks. As a team, the Hornets are 9-4 when Randall starts, the best mark for a single pitcher this season.
Ian Dawkins picked up two hits in Sunday's series finale win over Seattle U, giving him his 48th career multi-hit game, most among active Hornets players. He passed fellow senior Vinny Esposito (47). Dawkins has a team-leading 20 multi-hit games this season. The senior outfielder finished last season with a team-best 28 multi-hit games.
A Team Effort
Sacramento State pitchers combined to strike out a season-high 18 batters in Sunday's 10-1 win. Much of that was done by starter Parker Brahms, who struck out 14 in six innings, but Austin Roberts added three strikeouts in two innings while Dalton added the last in his one inning of work. The Hornets struck out 16 in 10 innings against Santa Clara on March 10 earlier this year.
For the first time in four weeks, Sacramento State did not earn a Pitcher of Hitter of the Week Award (despite Parker Brahms matching his own school record with 14 strikeouts in Sunday). The Hornets won four straight awards from April 9 through April 30: PJ Floyd (4/9), Brahms (4/16), Tanner Dalton (twice, 4/23 and 4/30). Brahms also won the award earlier this season, giving the Hornets five total conference Player of the Week awards this season.
Relying on the New Guys
According to a survey of baseball programs across the country, Sacramento State among the top five in the nation for most starts by freshmen players. Steven Moretto (46 starts), Keith Torres (45), Josh Urps (30), Dylan McPhillips (27), Scott Randall (13), Travis Martizia (1), and Brady Rodriguez (1) have combined for 163 total starts this season.
Sacramento State Stealers
James Outman and Matt Smith are tied for second in the WAC in stolen bases with 12 each. As a team, the Hornets are second in the conference and are 70th in all of NCAA Div. I with 60 total stolen bases. 10 different Hornets players have stolen at least one base while six have stolen four or more.
The Century Mark
With three wins against Chicago State earlier this season, Sacramento State head coach Reggie Christiansen passed the 100-win mark in WAC competition. Currently in his eighth season as head coach for the Hornets, Christiansen is 110-83 (.570) against WAC opponents. He is the only active WAC coach with more than 100 conference wins. Since taking over as the head coach for the Hornets, Christiansen is 246-220 (.528) overall.
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 is Vinny Esposito (First Base), Ian Dawkins (Outfield), and James Outman (Outfield). The selection is Esposito's second (also 2016).
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