Feb. 18, 2016
San José State (0-0, 0-0 MW) vs. UC Irvine (0-0, 0-0 Big West)
Municipal Stadium (San Jose, Calif.)
Friday, Feb. 19 6:00 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 20 1:00 p.m. (DH)
Sunday, Feb. 21 1:00 p.m.
PROBABLE PITCHING MATCHUPS (2015 STATS)
Friday: Josh Nashed (3-5, 7.04) vs. Elliot Surrey (6-6, 4.02)
Saturday (Gm. 1): Matt Brown (2-6, 4.44) vs. Alonzo Garcia (3-1, 3.88)
Saturday (Gm. 2): Logan Handzlik (0-1, 31.50) vs. Cameron Bishop (2-0, 4.55)
Sunday: Hilario Tovar (1-5, 9.32) vs. Shaun Vetrovec (1-1, 6.75)
Live Video: Spartan Digital Network (sjsuspartans.com/videos)
Radio: KSJS 90.5 FM (Friday & Saturday only)
Social Media: @SJSUBaseball (Twitter, Instagram) • facebook.com/SJSUSpartansBaseball
All-Time Series: San José State trails, 18-10
SPARTANS HOST UC IRVINE TO KICK OFF 2016 SEASON
San José State opens the 2016 season when it hosts the UC Irvine Anteaters of the Big West Conference this weekend. Friday’s season opener will get underway at 6:00 p.m. The Spartans and Anteaters will play a doubleheader on Saturday beginning at 1:00 p.m. before closing out the series at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday.
SCOUTING UC IRVINE
Overview: The 2016 Anteaters look poised to improve on last season’s already-impressive 33-23 record. UC Irvine returns seven starting position players and six pitchers to a club that finished 3rd in a tough Big West Conference, explaining why they were tabbed to finish second behind only Cal State Fullerton this season.
Pitching: Despite losing three of its top four pitchers in terms of ERA from a season ago, UC Irvine boasts four starting pitchers with experience who return in 2016. Elliot Surrey, Alonzo Garcia, Cameron Bishop and Shaun Vetrovec each pitched in at least 10 games in 2015, with Surrey being the only regular starter. Head coach Mike Gillespie will call on the other three to step up this season to replace the losses of Matt Esparza (16 starts), Evan Manarino (15 starts) and Sam Moore (24 appearances, five saves).
Offense: The Anteater offense starts with all-everything sophomore OF Keston Hiura, who hit .330 last year en route to Freshman All-American and Big West Freshman of the Year honors. Hiura has been named to a slew of preseason awards in 2016, including the Golden Spikes Watchlist. Senior infielders Mikey Duarte (1st Team) and Mitchell Holland (2nd Team) represent the other returning All-BWC performers from a season ago and will provide some thump in the lineup again in 2016.
The Spartans trail the all-time series with the Anteaters, 18-10. Last season, San José State visited Irvine and took the opening game of a three-game set before dropping the final two. The Spartans’ last series victory came in 1989, when they took the first two games of a three-game set.
OPENING DAY MAGIC
The Spartans have enjoyed a tremendous amount of success in their lid-lifters, winning 25 of their last 29 Opening Day games. San José State has won seven of the last 10, including two-of-three under Dave Nakama.
After fielding one of the youngest teams in the country a year ago, the Spartans will again feature a host of youngsters seeing significant playing time in 2016. Four of the probable starting position players and three of the starting pitchers this weekend are underclassmen. Hunter Tidwell (Fr. - OF), Aaron Pleschner (Fr. - INF), Cal Koga (Fr. - C) and Kyle Morrison (So. - INF) represent four more underclassmen who will compete for starting duties early in the season.
San José State will lean on its lone two regular starting seniors for both leadership and production this season. Ozzy Braff and Dillan Smith represent the only seniors projected to start in the infield and outfield, respectively, on an everyday basis. Last season, Braff led the team with a .298 average and posted a clean sheet at second base en route to Second Team All-Mountain West honors. Smith started all but three games in right field a year ago and will be counted on to lead off for the Spartans.
‘SUNDAY FUN-DAY’ AT MUNI
Youth baseball teams are invited to join the Spartans every Sunday at Municipal Stadium for Sunday Funday. Participating teams will take the field with San José State for the national anthem and get to run the bases after the conclusion of the game. Those interested in reserving a date for their team are encouraged to call the Spartan Ticket Office at 408-924-SJTX (7589).
WHAT’S ON DECK
San José State plays its first midweek game of the season Tuesday, when it hosts crosstown rival Santa Clara in the first of two meetings between the schools this season. The Spartans will look to avenge a pair of 2-1 defeats to the Broncos a season ago.