An already formidable Sacramento State baseball team seems to be even better during midweek nonconference games this season, something the Hornets showed again Tuesday in walloping host UC Davis 15-7 in their annual Causeway Cup battle.
The Hornets (22-14) banged out a season-high 19 hits. Left fielder Kyle Moses went 4 for 5 with two RBIs; shortstop Scotty Burcham added three hits and two RBIs; leadoff hitter and right fielder Nathan Lukes reached based five times while extending his hitting streak to 16 games; and first baseman Rhys Hoskins and third baseman Will Soto slammed three- and two-run homers, respectively.
Reserve outfielder Brian Ruhm had a grand slam and five RBIs, and third baseman Adam Young, one of the top hitters in the potent Big West Conference, went 3 for 6 for the Aggies (16-17).
Sac State earned its eighth consecutive win and ninth in 10 meetings against UC Davis, which last beat the Hornets in February 2011. The teams meet again May 13 at Raley Field, the last of six games Sac State is playing this season at the home of the River Cats.
The Hornets have looked like a Triple-A team in games on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. They are 7-1 in those games with the only loss a 9-8, 14-inning epic to Pacific on April 8 in Stockton. That defeat snapped Sac State’s 12-game streak.
The first-place Hornets then saw a nine-game Western Athletic Conference win streak end last weekend in losing two of three at Grand Canyon in Phoenix.
So Sac State coach Reggie Christiansen was pleased to get back on the winning track and do so by having five freshman pitchers – Jared Paderez, Julian Barron, Sterling Humphry, Austin Ragsdale and Chad Perry – combine for the win.
“We’re pretty thin in pitching right now and don’t have a true midweek starter,” Christiansen said. “So those five freshmen did a nice job of piecing things together today.”
Hoskins, a junior who leads the Hornets in hitting (.364), RBIs (33) and home runs (seven), has never lost to the Aggies. But the former Jesuit High School standout said the rivalry is more keen in the eyes of Sac State students, instructors and administrators than among the players. He notes only a handful of Aggies played high school ball locally while more than one-third of the Hornets have area roots.
“It’s always good to beat Davis,” Hoskins said. “But ever since I’ve been here, the rivalry hasn’t been as intense as in the past.”
Sac State returns to WAC play at home Thursday through Saturday against Utah Valley.
But the games everyone is talking about are Monday and Tuesday when Oregon State, ranked fourth by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, comes to Sacramento. The Beavers will play Sac State on Monday night at Raley Field and Tuesday afternoon at Sac State.
“You never want to get caught looking ahead, even if we are going to play a top-five program,” Hoskins said. “Reggie does a good job of reminding us to take it one game at a time, and that it’s not about who you play, but how you play.”
UC Davis will take a similar tack.
When his team fell behind 10-2 after four innings, Aggies coach Matt Vaughn took it as an opportunity to move players around and look at several others – he played 18 – as they try to regroup for Big West play Thursday through Saturday at UC Riverside.
Call The Bee’s Bill Paterson, (916) 326-5506.