Sac State baseball team to face off with ASU after pandemic halted play for nearly a year

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — College baseball teams are finally returning to play after nearly a year off because of the pandemic.

Sacramento State will play a three-game series with Arizona State University this weekend.

“I think the phrase ‘you don’t know what you have until it’s gone’ just kind of suits us all really well,” said junior Hornets pitcher Stone Churby. “I mean, we kind of took for granted going to the classroom every day and then coming out to the field.”

The Hornets were allowed to return to the field last month but being in the classroom will have to wait until the fall.

Still, they said it’s a sense of relief just being able to have a season. Sacramento State last played a game 11 months ago.

“Yeah, it’s been tough. I mean, thankfully, the NCAA gave quite a few of us some eligibility back,” said sixth-year senior Matt Smith.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association also allowed college baseball rosters to expand to 40 this season, both to allow for extra eligibility for players and also so teams could keep their incoming recruits.

“It’s been really challenging for the younger guys, you know. You have a group of freshmen who didn’t have a high school season, that played limited to no summer baseball,” said head coach Reggie Christiansen. “What I told them is, ‘You get to be around guys that do it the way it’s supposed to be done. So, this will be a great opportunity for you guys to grow and watch what they do.’”

“There’s a lot of excitement around the season just because it’s been a full year since we’ve played a real baseball game against an opponent,” Smith told FOX40. “We’re counting down the days. In a short time, we’ll be playing down in Arizona.”

It’s expected to be a strong season again for Sacramento State, which is bringing back many of the same players from the Hornets’ 2019 team. The team won the Western Athletic Conference Baseball Tournament before losing twice to Stanford in the regionals.

“I think this is one of the most special teams that have ever come through here,” Churby said. “It’s definitely the most special team I’ve been a part of and this is my fourth year here. This team has big expectations and we’re definitely ready to fulfill those expectations.”

“We knew at some point we were going to play baseball again, and they’ve done a really good job of keeping at their focus, and I think we’ve done a pretty good job from the protocol standpoint of being in a position to be ready to play,” Christiansen said.

Incidentally, the only time the Hornets have played the Sun Devils was back in the 2014 NCAA Regionals, where Sacramento State beat ASU.

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