SAN JOSE, Calif. – San José State came within 90 feet of staging some Opening Night magic, but ultimately lost to visiting UC Irvine, 3-2, Friday night at a soggy Municipal Stadium.
The Spartans (0-1) struggled all night off UC Irvine (1-0) starter Elliot Surrey and reliever Sean Sparling. Surrey worked the first 4.0 innings and allowed just one hit before giving way to Sparling, who tossed the next 3.0 innings and yielded just a pair of hits and no runs.
Things looked smooth through eight innings for the Anteaters, but San José State was able to make them sweat in the ninth. Shane Timmons greeted newly-entered UCI reliever Calvin Faucher with a booming solo shot over the left field fence to put the first crooked number of the season on the board. After a pair of groundouts, Ozzy Braff went deep for the first time in his San José State career to cut the lead to 3-2. Corey Olivet then drew a walk and advanced to third on a pair of wild pitches, and his brother Tyler drew a walk of his own, but Dillan Smith grounded out to end the game.
The game-tying run left at third marked San José State’s 10th man left in scoring position on the evening, as they finished 0-for-10 in RBI situations.
“If you look at the game, we had so many chances. That was our problem last year,” said head coach Dave Nakama. “We have to do a better job of hitting with guys on base and taking better at-bats.”
Fortunately for the Spartans, Josh Nashed was able to match Surrey through the first four frames, as both pitchers were pulled due to pitch count constraints despite their effectiveness. Nashed threw 4.0 innings of shutout ball and gave up four hits while fanning three.
“He’s too valuable for us. You can see that he can really pitch, so if you can take him along slowly and build him up, I think he’s going to be good for us once conference rolls around,” said Nakama.
Ross Slaney (0-1) was tagged with the loss for the Spartans. Slaney worked the fifth inning and into the sixth, allowing all three Anteater runs. The senior allowed just three hits, but three walks came back to haunt him.
Zach Wallace, Zach Tanner and Jake Swiech combined to work the final 4.0 innings and held the Anteaters to just one hit between them. Wallace and Tanner were making their San José State debuts.
At the dish, Timmons (2-5, home run, run, RBI), David Campbell (1-3, double), Braff (1-3, home run, run, walk, RBI) and Michael Breen (1-2) collected hits for the Spartans. Freshmen Brendt Citta, Hunter Tidwell and Aaron Pleschner made their debuts as well.
The Spartans and Anteaters are back at Municipal Stadium for a long day of baseball Saturday. The doubleheader gets underway at 1:00 p.m., with the second game starting approximately 30 minutes after the conclusion of the first game.
NOTES: Friday night marked the second-longest shutout outing of Nashed’s career, behind only his 4.2-inning outing versus Nevada on March 27, 2015…The loss was the second consecutive for the Spartans on Opening Day, bringing them to 2-2 in lid-lifters under Nakama….Timmons’ home run traveled 376 feet, and Braff’s 356.