Hornets baseball estimated to finish 2nd

%3Cdiv+class%3D%22snocf-article%22+data-id%3D%22%2F2015%2F11%2F01d4271c-962d-11e5-8fa6-f3860f05acd3.xml%22%3E%3C%2Fdiv%3E

Jerod Moreno

The Sacramento State Hornets’ baseball team was predicted to come in 2nd place in the Western Athletic Conference, behind only Grand Canyon University, according to a coaches’ poll released on Monday, Feb. 15.

Heading into the 2016 season, the 10 coaches gathered to rank the teams from first to last as well as picking a 2016 preseason all-WAC team, including Player of the Year and Pitcher of the Year. The team’s head coaches were not allowed to vote for their own team nor their own players.

Sacramento State received four first-place votes and received 74 points in the ranking system, while Grand Canyon had five first-place votes and 77 points overall. Grand Canyon finished in first place during the regular season last year with a 32-22 overall record, while Sacramento State finished in 4th place with an overall record of 33-27. Seattle University was a distant 3rd place as they earned one first-place vote and 57 points overall.

Although Grand Canyon finished last season in first place and are projected to finish first place this year, they are not eligible for the WAC or NCAA tournaments due to their reclassification as a new Division I team.

Sam Long was also predicted to be the WAC Preseason Pitcher of the Year as well as part of the All-WAC team. Sam Long, entering his junior season, has a career record of 14 wins and six losses at Sacramento State. Long also boasts a 2.92 overall ERA which ranks him 7th in school history. Long was also named a top collegiate prospect on D1baseball.com’s College 300 going into the 2016 season.

Vinny Esposito, who is entering his sophomore year, won the honors of being the Preseason All-WAC first baseman. During his freshman year, Esposito led the team with eight home runs and posted a .423 slugging percentage with 28 RBI. Esposito also led the WAC with 548 putouts and a .991 fielding percentage on the defensive side.

Sacramento State Hornet Baseball kicks off on Friday, Feb. 19, against Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama at Samford-Hitchcock field at Plainsman Park.