Baseball excited to compete in 2015

Mike McGough

Sacramento State’s baseball program has announced its schedule for its upcoming 2015 season.

The Division I team went 40-24 in a 64-game 2014 regular season before becoming Western Athletic Conference (WAC) champions. The team is slated to play in 56 games, not including potential playoff and tournament appearances.

Sac State baseball will debut on Feb. 13, beginning a four-game home series against Utah.

The non-conference schedule will see the Hornets play series against Utah, Portland, Texas Tech, UC Santa Barbara and Cal Poly within the first month of opening day.

“I think it’s a good balance,” said head coach Reggie Christiansen. “I think it’s a really competitive non-conference schedule. We’re looking forward to it.”

Christiansen indicated that the team’s four-game series at Texas Tech starting Feb. 26, could be an early-season highlight.

“We always look forward to going to Texas and playing,” Christiansen said. “It’s an environment that’s much different than schools offer on the West Coast in terms of their fans. You know there’s going to be between two and three thousand people at each game.”

Another notable non-conference match-up will come on the road against Cal Poly March 13-15. Cal Poly eliminated Sac State in the regional round of the 2014 NCAA Tournament, edging Sac State by scores of 4-2 and 6-5 in the two games played.

Senior pitcher Brennan Leitao is looking forward to their regionals rematch.

“They [Cal Poly] were definitely taken off-guard a little bit. I know a couple guys on Cal Poly from last year,” Leitao said. “They were impressed with us, and I think we’re going to go down there and impress them again this year.”

The Hornets will play 27 of their games at home in the upcoming season, five fewer games than they hosted the previous year. The team went 24-8 at home and 11-14 on the road in 2014.

Road play will be important in 2015 with the team playing just nine of their final 28 games at home. These games span from the start of April until the regular season finale May 16 against Grand Canyon.

Outfielder Ryan Locke, a redshirt freshman in 2014, spoke on the opportunity presented by a sparse home schedule.

“If we can prove that we’re durable and we’re tough, and we can last through this road schedule from April to May, I think we’ll come out with a very positive experience,” Locke said.

Locke and Leitao both stated that road experience is crucial in preparing for tournament play, which happens away from Sac State.

“When it comes down to the end of the year, the playoff race and the WAC title, that’s all you’re really thinking about anyways,” Leitao said. “So whether you’re traveling or staying at home, that’s the main focus over everything else going on.”

Sac State will host three of its home games next year at Raley Field. The 2014 schedule brought the Hornets to Raley Field six times and tallied a 5-1 record.

“We had a different feeling about coming into the game when we played at Raley Field,” Locke said. “It was kind of like this extra excitement that brought us to come out intense.”

Christiansen pointed out a different opportunity offered by the minor league stadium that John Smith Field does not currently offer.

“Under the lights, that’s the biggest benefit,” Christiansen said. “[We] get a chance to play under the lights and have more fans come watch us play. When we have lights here on campus in 2016, hopefully, more people, students especially, will get a chance to witness that.”

Without lights, it is impossible to host night games at Sac State. The latest scheduled start time for games at Sac State in 2015 is 3 p.m. All three Raley Field matchups begin at 6:35 p.m.

Faced with a competitive slate of games for the 2015 season, Christiansen emphasized he intends to keep the team focused on making improvements now rather than thinking too much about the schedule.

“It’s exciting to read about and exciting to hear people talk about, [but] we really just have to try to do better today than we were last week,” Christiansen said.