Reggie Christiansen, Sacramento State Hornets

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Reggie Christiansen is in his seventh season as head coach of the Sacramento State Hornets. The Hornets overcame a tough spot in the middle of the 2017 season to win the Western Athletic Conference Tournament with four straight victories, including a 5-0 triumph in the championship game against Cal State Bakersfield. The Hornets have a 32-27 record and are riding an eight game winning streak as they head to the Stanford Regional, where they will open play on Thursday against the Cardinal.

The 2012 and 2014 Western Athletic Conference Coach of the Year and Major League Baseball’s Northern California scouts Division I Coach of the Year, Christiansen took over the reigns of the program after spending the 2009 and 2010 seasons as the associate head coach. Among 24 Division I baseball teams in California, the Hornets entered the 2017 campaign with the seventh-most wins over the last five seasons. The team has won 200 total games since 2012 (including the 2017 season), which is more than several perennial postseason qualifiers, including Pepperdine, Stanford, Long Beach State, Cal, USC, and Fresno State.

From 2012-16, Christiansen’s program has received an All-American Honor (Rhys Hoskins), two all-West Region selections, four Freshman All-American Honors, three WAC Freshmen of the Year, and two WAC Player of the Year honors while Christiansen has twice been named the WAC Coach of the Year. The squad has also won 30 or more games in five straight seasons, the longest such streak since a string of nine straight 30-win seasons from 1985-1993.

The Sacramento State baseball program entered a new era during the 2016 season as lights were installed for the first time in the 63-year history of its home stadium, John Smith Field. The Hornets hosted Pacific in front of a near-capacity crowd for the first night game on campus on May 17 with Christiansen and former coaches Cal Boyes and John Smith ceremonially turning on the lights for the first time.

The 2016 Hornets made an early statement in non-conference play, winning two of three games in a season opening series at Auburn and rallying for a 5-4 win at No. 5 LSU, the team’s second win over a top-five ranked team in the last three seasons. Sacramento State then had a program-record long 13-game homestand, going 9-4, and started 10-0 in home WAC play, sweeping its first three WAC series for the first time in program history.

The Hornets finished 16-11 in the WAC and were the No. 4 seed for the conference tournament, beating Northern Colorado in the opening game for their 30th win of the season before a pair of narrow one-run losses. Three Hornet players were named All-WAC, with junior pitcher Max Karnos named to the first time, and pitchers Tyler Beardsley and Sam Long and catcher Gunner Pollman were selected in the 2016 MLB draft, marking the fifth straight season that Christiansen’s team had multiple MLB Draft picks.

Christiansen’s 2015 team had, statistically, the best pitching staff in program history as it ranked third in all of NCAA Div. I with a 1.09 WHIP as well as ranking third with just 2.07 walks allowed per nine innings. The squad also ranked 12th nationally with only 7.70 hits allowed per nine innings and recorded single-season school records for earned run average (2.97 – 18th best in Div. I), opposing batting average (.235), and fewest walks allowed (124).

About the author, Bill

Bill Ballew has been involved with collegiate and professional baseball since 1983. He has been the Atlanta correspondent for Baseball America since 1991 and has served as the editorial content manager for Baseball The Magazine for more than five years. He is a member of the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA), National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) and the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR).