May 19, 2015
SAN JOSÉ STATE OPENS MOUNTAIN WEST CHAMPIONSHIP AGAINST UNLV
The Spartans open the 2015 Mountain West Championship against a familiar foe when they take on UNLV Wednesday morning at 11:00 a.m., fresh off a three-game set against the Rebels at Municipal Stadium last weekend. The winner of Wednesday's play-in game advances to the double-elimination portion of the bracket and will take on Fresno State later in the day at 3:00 p.m.
2015 MOUNTAIN WEST CHAMPIONSHIP TOURNAMENT
WEDNESDAY-SUNDAY, MAY 20-24
WILLIAM PECCOLE PARK (3,000)
#7-San José State vs. #6-UNLV
Wednesday, May 20, 11:00 a.m. PDT
RHP Kalei Contrades (4-9, 5.28) vs. RHP Kenny Oakley (3-5, 3.39)
#7-San José State/#6-UNLV vs. #3-Fresno State
Wednesday, May 21, 3:00 p.m. PDT
TBA vs. TBA
Live Video: Mountain West Digital Network
Live Stats: Via Gametracker & Statbroadcast
Social Media: @SJSUAthletics | @SJSUBaseball | @MW_OlySports
#GoSpartans | #MWBSB15
facebook.com/SJSUSpartans | /MountainWestConference
MW CHAMPIONSHIP BRACKET BREAKDOWN
The 2015 MW Championship will be a double-elimination tournament preceded by a single play-in game between No. 6 seed UNLV and No. 7 seed San José State. The winner of the game, to be played at 11:00 a.m. PT on Wednesday, May 20, will face No. 3 seed Fresno State immediately following at 3:00 p.m. PT. No. 4 seed New Mexico will face No. 5 seed Air Force at 7 p.m. PT. Nevada, the tournament's top seed, will face the lowest winning seed of Wednesday's first round games at 7 p.m. PT on Thursday, May 21. Two-time defending tournament champion and No. 2 seed San Diego State will face the highest winning seed advancing from the first round match-ups at 3:00 p.m. PT on Thursday, May 21.
SAN JOSÉ STATE IN CONFERENCE TOURNAMENT ACTION
San José State participated in its first-ever MW Championship last season. The Spartans entered as the No. 7 seed and toppled Air Force, 3-0, behind a career day on the mound from Kalei Contrades. San Diego State and Nevada then ousted the Spartans with 15-1 and 4-0 wins, respectively. San José State is 12-25 all-time in conference tournament play, including a 9-14 all-time mark in conference tourney games against current Mountain West opponents. San José State has won four regular season conference championships (1971 Big West, 1997, 2000 and 2009 WAC), but has never won a championship tournament.
MOUNTAIN WEST CHAMPIONSHIP LIVE STREAMING
Every tournament game will be streamed live and free on the Mountain West Network (TheMW.com). Paul Loeffler, Don Marchand and Robert Portnoy will call the games from William Peccole Park with David Lombardi returning to the broadcast team to provide color analysis for a third season.
GET CONNECTED WITH THE MW CHAMPIONSHIP
Keep up with @SJSUAthletics and @SJSUBaseball on Twitter this week to follow along with the Spartans' action at the MW Championship. The Mountain West will be providing tournament updates via Facebook (Facebook.com/MountainWestConference), YouTube (YouTube.com/MountainWestConf ), Twitter (@MW_OlySports) and Instagram (@MountainWestConference). Fans can also get immediate updates at the MW Championship Central page.
MERCURIO, BAUTISTA FRESH OFF BIG WEEKENDS
Senior center fielder Andre Mercurio and sophomore left fielder Brett Bautista each had a standout series against the Rebels last weekend. Mercurio led the charge with a 7-for-15 (.467) weekend and drove in a pair of runs while swiping four bases -- two of which came during the same at-bat. In Saturday's season finale, Bautista swatted the first home run of his career, accounting for one of his five hits and six RBIs in the three-game set.
NEW FACES ALL AROUND
San José State fields one of the youngest teams in the country in 2015. Two transfer juniors, Ozzy Braff (Whitman College) and Dillan Smith (Palomar Community College), join a 16-man freshman class, 15 of which have seen action this season. The Spartans' roster features 25 underclassmen and just nine upperclassmen.
MERCURIO A VETERAN IN THE FIELD
Through May 19, senior center fielder Andre Mercurio has 196 games played under his belt. The San Mateo, Calif., resident and Serra High School product owns a .283 career batting average in 761 at-bats with a .997 fielding percentage patrolling the outfield. A 2013 second-team All-Mountain West selection after making all 57 starts that season, Mercurio was hampered by a wrist injury in 2014 that forced him to miss 10 games early in the year and limited him to just 40 starts. Mercurio and Kalei Contrades represent the only players on the roster in their fourth year at San José State. Myles Richard, the third senior on the 2015 Spartans, transferred from Mount Hood Community College before the 2014 season.
BASE STEALERS BEWARE
Sophomore catcher Joe Stefanki has been one of the best backstops in the country this season in terms of controlling the running game. Entering last weekend, Stefanki was ninth in the nation in caught stealing percentage (26-55, .473) among catchers with at least 17 runners caught stealing. Over the weekend, Stefanki threw out another runner to bring his total to 27 on the year, which is the second highest in the Mountain West.
FRESHMAN DUAL THREATS
Four San José State freshmen -- Josh Nashed, Turtle Kuhaulua, Dylan Sugimoto and Corey Olivet -- have seen time on the mound and in the field in 2015. Kuhaulua threw 13.2 innings without allowing an earned run to start his Spartans career and leads the team with five saves in addition to being the only Spartan to start a game at every spot in the infield. Nashed had his best outing of the season against Nevada (3/27), tossing 4.2 innings of scoreless ball while scattering two hits to pick up the win. Olivet made his debut on the mound one day later and worked 2.0 scoreless frames while adding a hit at the plate.
BRAFF NAMED SAN josÉ State FEBRUARY STUDENT-ATHLETE OF THE MONTH
Junior infielder Ozzy Braff was one of two April Spartan Foundation Student-Athletes of the Month, presented by ScholarShare. Braff batted .471 in 10 starts at second base in April and strung together four multi-hit games in a row, which was part of an eight-game hit streak. Braff tallied three hits and scored two runs in a win over SDSU (4/12) and contributed two hits and two RBIs in the 11-inning victory at Washington State (4/16). The Palo Alto, Calif., native walked eight times to go along with 16 hits and ended April with a .581 on-base percentage.
CONTRADES EARNS PAIR OF PRESEASON AWARDS
Senior right-hander Kalei Contrades was one of two pitchers to be named to the 2015 Mountain West Preseason All-Conference Team, as voted on by the conference's head coaches, in addition to being selected to the Perfect Game Preseason All-Mountain West team. Contrades recorded a stellar junior campaign in which he appeared in 17 games, making seven starts, and posted a 5-2 record with a 2.50 ERA in 79.1 innings.
Tom Kunis RETURNS TO SAN JOSÉ STATE AS PITCHING COACH
Tom Kunis, an assistant on former skipper Sam Piraro's staff from 1988-91 and 2009-11, returns for a third stint and an eighth season with the Spartans in 2015. Kunis and head coach Dave Nakama coached together for six seasons (2002-07) at Stanford under Mark Marquess, where the pair aided the Cardinal to two Pac-10 conference titles and five NCAA Tournament appearances, including three Super Regional appearances and two College World Series berths. In his 28 years of coaching, 51 of Kunis' pitchers have been drafted professionally.
SPARTANS TESTED EARLY AND OFTEN IN 2015
Six of San José State's opponents -- Cal Poly, Stanford, UC Irvine, UNLV, Oregon State and San Diego State -- received regional berths last season. Cal Poly and Oregon State each hosted a regional, Stanford won the Bloomington Regional before falling to eventual national champion Vanderbilt in the Nashville Super Regional, and UC Irvine advanced to the College World Series by winning the Corvallis Regional and Stillwater Super Regional.