Updated: Dec 28, 2019
We're taking a look back and a look ahead at college baseball teams from around the country. Next up are the Sacramento State Hornets!
If you don't know the Sacramento State Hornets, you should. They are one of the most consistent teams on the West Coast, and 2020 is setting up to be another good year for the Hornets.
A Look Back at 2019
For Sacramento State, 2019 was a year that won’t soon be forgotten. With marquee wins throughout the year including on the road at UCLA, blanking California, 6-0, and a 21 run offensive explosion at California Baptist, a quiet end to the year could have been enough for some teams. However, the Hornets had other plans in store and wrote one of the most memorable and thrilling chapters of the 2019 college baseball season.
After losing first round of the WAC Tournament to Utah Valley, Sacramento State was just one loss away from ending their season. Six games and four days later, and the Hornets would be WAC Champions.
Scoring five runs in the top of the ninth, Sacramento State staved off elimination by first taking down CSU Bakersfield, 7-3. The next day the Hornets would win two more elimination games, defeating UTRGV, 6-2, and coming from behind to take out Utah Valley, 6-4, avenging their loss from earlier in the tournament.
Saturday brought more heroics for the Hornets as Sacramento State eliminated New Mexico State, 6-4, in ten innings. This earned them the right to play once more that day. In an intense 11 inning affair, Sacramento State walked off Grand Canyon, 4-3, to set up a winner-take-all final on Sunday. In the Hornets’ second straight one-run game, they defeated Grand Canyon 5-4 and won the WAC Championship. Adding to their historic run, Sacramento State managed to eliminate every other team in the tournament on their way to winning the Championship.
The miraculous WAC Championship for Sacramento State earned them a spot in the Stanford Regional. After dropping their first game to the host, Stanford, Sacramento State earned their second NCAA Tournament win in program history by defeating UC Santa Barbara. Impressively, the win secured a 40-win season for the Hornets in what was one of the most memorable seasons ever for Sacramento State.
Sacramento State had three players selected in the MLB Draft including Austin Roberts (8th round), Tanner Dalton (17th round), and Parker Brahms (27th round). All three were pitchers from the Hornets' excellent 2019 pitching staff which put up a 3.88 team ERA. Brahms elected to return and will be a key part of the 2020 pitching staff.
A Look Ahead at 2020
The Hornets will open 2020 with a marquee matchup against UC Santa Barbara in what promises to be one of the best Opening Weekend series. This rematch from the 2019 Stanford Regional will set the tone early for the Hornets.
After starting the season off with ten straight home games, the Hornets will be on the road for the next 12 games, including non-conference series against UC Irvine and Nevada and a WAC series at New Mexico State where the Hornets will go up against phenom, Nick Gonzales.
Late March and early April will bring exciting midweeks against Stanford, St Mary’s, and Cal along with WAC series against CSU Bakersfield, Chicago State, and UTRGV. Upstart California Baptist will come to town in late April in what will likely be a great conference series.
May will offer series with Northern Colorado, Grand Canyon, and Utah Valley along with a midweek game against Arizona before the Hornets will travel to Mesa, Arizona for the WAC Tournament.
John’s (@johnny_omaha_) 2020 Prediction: The Hornets will compete for the WAC Championship.
As of right now, the path to a Regional is fairly narrow in the WAC. The Hornets schedule shapes up so that it would be possible to earn an at-large bid, but the only sure way into a Regional will be winning the WAC Tournament.
The good news for Sacramento State is that they should once again finish near the top of the WAC. The Hornets return RHP Scott Randall who threw 93.2 innings and put up a 2.59 ERA in 2019, but Sacramento State did lose two important arms to the draft. With a guy like Randall, no team would want to see Sacramento State in their Regional.
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