SAN JOSE, Calif. - The San José State baseball team used an eight-run seventh inning to climb back from a five-run deficit en route to its first victory of the season, an 11-8 win over San Francisco Tuesday night at Municipal Stadium.
"It wasn't pretty, but we'll take it. They're hard to come by, so you have to take them when you can get them," said head coach Dave Nakama.
The Spartans (1-3) found themselves in an 8-3 hole after the Dons (0-5) had a big seventh inning of their own, putting up six runs in the top of the frame to seemingly put the game away.
USF's Ross Puskarich led off the inning with a single to left field off San José State's Carter Johnson, who came one batter away from getting out of the jam unscathed after striking out Jack Hall for the second out of the inning with the bases loaded. A walk and back-to-back doubles by Derek Atkinson and Brendan Hendricks would chase Johnson, however, as the Dons scored all six of their runs with two outs.
In the bottom half, Andre Mercurio sparked a rally with a one-out double down the right field line off USF's Matt Narahara. After Alec de Watteville and David Campbell drew walks to load the bases, Brock Larson entered for the Dons to face Turtle Kuhaulua, who promptly singled up the middle to score Mercurio. Larson then hit Brett Bautista, struck out pinch-hitter Justin Beck and walked Chris Williams and Joe Stefanki to cut the lead to 8-7.
Mack Meyer entered in relief of Larson and looked to get out of the inning when Dillan Smith skied an 0-2 pitch to left field, but the Dons' left fielder misplayed the ball, clearing the bases and giving San José State the lead. Mercurio followed up with his second hit of the inning, a double in the right center gap, to drive in Smith and put the Spartans up for good, 11-8.
"I think the run production was a good sign. Hopefully the guys understand they can hit with runners on base," said Nakama. "We left so many runners on base early in the game: second and third with nobody out in the first inning and we don't score, and I think we had bases loaded another time and scored only one run or something like that. We have to do a better job of hitting with guys on base."
The Spartans fell behind in the second inning when Hendricks drew a walk off San José State starter Daniel Harris and came around to score on Zack McCoy's sacrifice fly to right.
Like they did in the seventh inning, the Spartans answered right back in the bottom of the frame to take the lead. Mitch Ravizza collected his first hit of the season by lacing a Sheldon Lee pitch into left field and later scored on an RBI groundout off the bat of Smith. De Watteville, playing in his first game of the season, delivered a base hit to left to knock in Williams and Smith, marking the sophomore's first hit and RBIs of the year.
In total, San José State used eight pitchers on the night, including Kuhaulua, who made his debut on the mound and closed out the game with a two-inning save. Four freshmen saw time on the mound - Harris, Matt Brown, Josh Nashed and Kuhaulua - and combined with sophomores Jackson Berumen and Johnson, junior Ross Slaney and senior Myles Richard to piece together the Spartans' pitching effort.
"The inexperience on the mound showed a little bit. I think we went on a stretch where we couldn't throw a first pitch strike, and we worked out of some jams and got into some jams, Nakama said. "But we have to do that; we have to throw those guys because they're going to pitch sometime for us down the road, so we have to get them some experience.
"I hope the guys understand that they can win. We're a pretty good ball club. I think you have to win one so they understand they can do it and hopefully we can have a good weekend."
The Spartans host their first series of the year when Northern Colorado comes to town Feb. 20-22. The Spartans and Bears will play a double dip on Saturday, with the first game starting at 1:00 p.m. and the second at 4:00 p.m.
San Jose State 11, San Francisco 8 (Feb 17, 2015 at San Jose, Calif.)
San Francisco....... 010 100 600 - 8 8 2 (0-5)
San Jose State...... 030 000 80X - 11 10 2 (1-3)
Pitchers: San Francisco - LEE, Sheldon; WALICZEK, Frank(2); BUONOPANE, Anthony(4);
NARAHARA, Matt(6); LARSON, Brock(7); MEYER, Mack(7); GRANOFF, Sam(8) and MIROGLIO, Dominic.
San Jose State - Harris, Daniel; SLANEY, Ross(3); BERUMEN, Jackson(4); BROWN, Matt(5);
RICHARD, Myles(6); JOHNSON, Carter(7); NASHED, Josh(7); KUHAULUA, Turtle(8) and Stefanki, Joe;
Win-NASHED, Josh(1-0) Save-KUHAULUA, Turtle(1) Loss-LARSON, Brock(0-1) T-3:32 A-513
Weather: 58 degrees, cloudy