San José State (6-9, 2-3 MW) vs. USF (3-14, 0-0 WCC)
Municipal Stadium (San Jose, Calif.)
Tuesday, March 15 6:00 p.m.
PROBABLE PITCHING MATCHUP
Tuesday: LHP Graham Gomez (1-0, 4.50 ERA) vs. RHP Benji Post (1-2, 4.70 ERA)
Live Video: Spartan Digital Network (www.sjsuspartans.com/videos)
Radio: KSJS 90.5 FM
Social Media: @SJSUBaseball (Twitter, Instagram) • facebook.com/SJSUSpartansBaseball
All-Time Series: San José State leads, 96-62-1
SAN JOSÉ STATE CLASHES WITH USF TO WRAP UP HOMESTAND
The San Francisco Dons of the West Coast Conference make the trip south on Tuesday to finish off San José State’s three-game home stand. The midweek matchup will be the first between the Spartans and Dons since they played a single game last February.
Overview: USF, led by 18th-year head coach Nino Giarratano, has had a tough go of it out of the gates in 2016, as it enters Tuesday’s matchup with a 3-14 mark. The Dons have dropped every series they’ve played this season, though they posted a 5-0 shutout over No. 4 Oregon State in the series finale with the Beavers. USF also owns wins against Hawai’i and UC Davis.
Pitching: The Dons bring a 5.92 ERA to Municipal Stadium Tuesday night. Starting pitching has snakebitten them so far, as no Don that has started at least one game has an ERA under 4.22. Frank Waliczek has been steady out of the bullpen, appearing in a team-high 10 games and posting a 2.31 ERA. Brock Larsen has yet to allow an earned run in 9.1 innings (six appearances) out of the bullpen.
Offense: USF has shown the ability to hit at times this spring. It owns a .262 team average despite facing pitching from UCSB, Cal, Cal Poly, Grand Canyon and Oregon State. Riley Helland leads the Dons with a .364 average but has just 22 at-bats. Matt Sinatro (.361), Blake Valley (.345) and Aaron Ping (.326) are also above the .300 mark, while Valley leads the club in hits (20), RBIs (14) and steals (5).
The Spartans lead the all-time series with the Dons, 96-62-1. In a rare bit of scheduling, the teams met only once last season. In that game, San José State 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 the Dons.
THE WEEKEND THAT WAS
In a rain-filled weekend in the Bay Area, San José State was able to squeeze in a doubleheader against visiting Air Force on Saturday. The Spartans and Falcons were washed out on Friday and Sunday, and will have to play an extra game when San José State heads to Colorado Springs in April. In the first game, Air Force’s Griffin Jax showed why he’s been on of the best pitchers in the Mountain West this season as he led the Falcons to a 7-2 win. San José State rebounded in the second game, scoring six runs in the first inning and holding off a pesky Air Force club the rest of the way for a 9-5 victory.
WHAT’S ON DECK
Next up for San José State is a trip to New Mexico to take on the Lobos, who have featured one of the Mountain West’s most potent offenses in 2016. The series gets underway Friday at 6:00 p.m. and continues Saturday at 2:00 p.m. before wrapping up Sunday at 1:00 p.m.
THE SHANE TRAIN
Sophomore first baseman Shane Timmons has gotten off to a tremendous start in 2016. He has hit safely in 13 of the Spartans’ 15 games this season, including two-hit outings in eight of those. His 34 total bases, 23 hits and 14 RBIs are among the top-5 in the Mountain West in their respective categories. Timmons is also alone or tied for the top spot on the team in batting average (.397) runs scored (10), and home runs (2). He is currently riding a 10-game hit streak, and has posted a clean sheet in 143 defensive chances at first base after playing primarily as the designated hitter last 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.
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 week 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. Below is a breakdown of the Spartans’ roster by class.
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