It's midway through Sacramento State's baseball season and Reggie Christiansen admits he doesn't dare fully exhale.
The Hornets third-year coach did sigh a bit late Tuesday afternoon, after his team beat rival UC Davis 6-4, rallying for two runs in the bottom of the eighth inning at John Smith Field, to improve to 15-13.
A year after sharing the Western Athletic Conference championship, Christiansen expects another title push in a league that includes newcomers Texas-Arlington, Texas State, Cal State Bakersfield and Dallas Baptist, the four teams in the top four spots. Sac State is 2-4 in the WAC, three games behind Arlington and Texas State.
"We've played some really good teams and faced a lot of good pitching, but we're getting better," Christiansen said. "We haven't really gotten on track offensively, and we will, and when we do, we'll be scary."
Second baseman Andrew Ayers leads the Hornets with a .313 average after his two hits against the Aggies (10-16). The senior, last season's WAC Player of the Year, continues to climb the Hornets' career lists. His 192 hits are fifth all time, and he is fourth with 42 doubles. He's also just three shy of ninth in RBIs.
Ayers is also the team leader for a group that spends every Thursday night at a team dinner and makes a habit of catching a movie together every so often.
"Andrew's been great," Christiansen said. "You look back at what he's done here, and he's special."
Designated hitter Chris Lewis had a two-run triple in the third for the Hornets on Tuesday and is batting .289.
The Hornets took a 5-4 lead when freshman catcher Dane Fujinaka had a run-scoring, bases-loaded bunt single in the eighth, just days after stealing home at Dallas Baptist.
Christiansen also has a lot of local players playing key roles, including third baseman and Elk Grove High School graduate Will Soto, who had two hits against the Aggies; first baseman Rhys Hoskins (Jesuit), who also had two hits; outfielder Justin Higley (Jesuit); pitcher Brandon Creel (Rosemont), who improved to 4-1 with the win in relief; and reliever Sutter McLoughlin (Rio Americano), who got his fifth save.
"We have a lot of great local talent here," Soto said. "I'm trying to keep local guys here. We're a close team and all like each other."
The Hornets host USF at 3 p.m. today and Texas State for a three-game series starting Friday.
"It's crazy we've played a lot of games, learned a lot, and there's still so much season left," Christiansen said. "The league is better than it was last year. It's fun. We'll be fine."