College notes: Sac State baseball tries to keep one streak alive after another ends

Published: Wednesday, Apr. 9, 2014 - 5:59 pm

With one streak over, Sacramento State’s baseball team hopes to continue another one this weekend at Grand Canyon in Phoenix.

The Hornets’ 12-game winning streak – the program’s second-longest – ended Tuesday in a 9-8, 14-inning, nonconference loss at Pacific.

But the Hornets (20-12) take a 9-0 Western Athletic Conference record into their three-game series at second-place Grand Canyon (16-14, 6-3).

They swept visiting Seattle last weekend, including a 4-3, 15-inning win Saturday in which freshman Brandon Hunley (Christian Brothers) delivered a walk-off single. The 4-hour, 13-minute game broke the Hornets’ record of 14 innings set against Texas-San Antonio last season.

Sac State and Grand Canyon are the only two of the conference’s 10 teams with overall winning records.

In conference games, Sac State is hitting .346 with 12 home runs and 78 RBIs, averaging 9.2 runs with a .525 slugging percentage and .430 on-base percentage, and Sac State pitchers have a 1.78 ERA. In nine conference games, junior cleanup hitter Rhys Hoskins (Jesuit) has a .528 average and 20 RBIs.

Hornets backup QB gets reps – The big question during Sac State’s spring football workouts is the backup for quarterback Garrett Safron, who could set several school passing records next fall as a senior.

Jihad Vercher, last fall’s primary backup as a freshman, isn’t expected to return from injury until fall camp, and third-stringer Marcus McDade, who will be a junior, is in a walking boot after injuring his left ankle during practice.

With both sidelined, 6-foot-2, 180-pound walk-on Daniel Kniffin of Rocklin, the Hornets’ last remaining quarterback from the 2013 roster, has been given plenty of reps this spring.

Kniffin, who will be a redshirt freshman, took every offensive snap in Saturday’s second scrimmage. He completed 13 of 20 passes for 140 yards and led the offense to two touchdowns and a field goal.

“The only way to get better at that position is by playing,” coach Marshall Sperbeck said. “I’ve liked what I have seen so far.”

Sperbeck also said Sheldon senior Nolan Merker will join the Hornets as a preferred walk-on in the fall. Last season, he threw for 2,734 yards and 30 touchdowns, including eight in a 68-13 win over Lodi.

Aggies’ upset baseball win – UC Davis’ baseball team (14-15) is just 1-5 in the Big West Conference entering its three-game Picnic Day weekend series against visiting Long Beach State (15-16, 2-1).

But that one victory was big.

The Aggies upset four-time defending Big West champion and national No. 18 Cal State Fullerton 3-1 on the road Friday when they rallied to score three times in the eighth on RBI singles by Steven Patterson and Izaak Silva. The victory ended a 16-game losing streak against the Titans that dated to 2008.

Senior Harry Stanwyck and freshman closer Zach Stone combined for the six-hitter. Fullerton’s run came on a double by J.D. Davis (Elk Grove) in the third.

Softball pitcher rejoins Hornets – Junior Caitlin Brooks, pitching Friday for the first time in nearly a month because of injury, allowed two hits and struck out nine in Sac State’s 9-1 victory over Northern Colorado. The game was shortened to six innings because of the mercy rule.

The former Escalon star was named Big Sky Conference Pitcher of the Week for the seventh time. She is 5-4 with a 1.42 ERA.

The Hornets (18-16, 6-2), tied for first place with Southern Utah in the Big Sky, play three conference games this weekend at Idaho State (22-15, 4-2), a doubleheader Friday and a game Saturday.

Call The Bee’s Bill Paterson, (916) 326-5506.

Read more articles by Bill Paterson

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