College Sports

Sacramento State baseball seeks consistency in home stretch of season

Sacramento State baseball coach Reggie Christiansen is hoping his Hornets, currently sixth in the Western Athletic Conference, can at least hold onto their spot in the standings and reach the WAC Tournament, which starts May 24. The top six teams in the conference make the tourney, with the winner advancing to the NCAA Division I Tournament.
Sacramento State baseball coach Reggie Christiansen is hoping his Hornets, currently sixth in the Western Athletic Conference, can at least hold onto their spot in the standings and reach the WAC Tournament, which starts May 24. The top six teams in the conference make the tourney, with the winner advancing to the NCAA Division I Tournament. pkitagaki@sacbee.com

Approaching the final month of the season, the Sacramento State baseball team has had some highlights, but it’s not quite the conference powerhouse it used to be.

After taking two of three from Seattle this weekend on the road, the Hornets (21-20, 6-9 Western Athletic Conference) sit No. 6 in the standings. With the top six teams qualifying for the WAC Tournament, they’ll hope to hold on to that playoff spot as they finish the season with three more three-game series.

“One thing we try to stay away from is expectation,” Hornets coach Reggie Christiansen said. “That’s something that’s crept in ... We just have to be a little more consistent.”

The Hornets were regular-season and conference-tournament champions in 2014, so high expectations make sense. Sacramento State finished 16-11 in WAC play in both 2015 and 2016, good for fourth place each time.

The WAC Tournament starts May 24, with the winner advancing to the NCAA Division I Tournament.

Despite their record, the Hornets have had plenty to celebrate this year. Senior right-hander Justin Dillon made history on Feb. 23 by pitching the first no-hitter in the program’s Division I era in a 2-0 win over Northern Kentucky.

Dillon and freshman Parker Brahms have been bright spots in the Hornets’ rotation. Brahms on Monday was named the WAC pitcher of the week for his six shutout innings in Saturday’s 9-0 win. Sacramento State has won Brahms’ last four starts, in which he is 3-0 with a 1.01 ERA.

Brahms made his way into the rotation early in the season after injuries opened up a spot.

“He hasn’t looked back,” Christiansen said. “He’s got a bright future ahead.”

This also marks the team’s first full season with night games at home, thanks to the newly built lights at John Smith Field, where the Hornets are 13-10.

“I don’t think we’ve had a true sense of what those lights will be like, for the team or fans, because of the weather,” Christiansen said.

Rain has canceled just one game, but has shortened others.

Sacramento State hosts CSU Bakersfield this weekend, with Friday’s and Saturday’s games starting at 6 p.m. Sunday’s first pitch is at noon.

Two of the Hornets’ last three WAC series are at home.

UC Davis baseball – The Aggies took two of three at Hawaii this weekend to improve to 12-20 overall and 5-7 in Big West Conference play. UC Davis lost six of its last seven games before that series.

The Big West does not hold a conference tournament. The regular-season champion receives an automatic bid to the NCAA D-I tourney.

UCD will host conference-leading Long Beach State (25-13, 10-2 as of Monday) this weekend.

Football – Spring ball is wrapping up for Sacramento State and UC Davis.

The Aggies integrated their final spring practice with the campus’ annual Picnic Day on Saturday. After an open practice in the morning, fans could take the field to meet players and coaches.

Sacramento State’s spring schedule continues a bit longer. The Hornets will end their spring ball at Hornet Stadium with a controlled scrimmage at 6:30 p.m. on May 12.

Both squads are looking for 2017 to be a bounce-back season. This was UCD’s first spring under coach Dan Hawkins, who was hired after the Aggies went 3-8 last season. The Hornets were 2-9.

GolfSacramento State won the Big Sky Conference Women’s Golf Championships, beating Idaho on a playoff hole Sunday in Boulder City, Nev. The Hornets last won the tournament in 2007. They will advance to one of four NCAA regionals held May 8-10.

Michael McGough: 916-326-5508, @mike_mcgough

  Comments