San Jose State Schedule Has Few Surprises
Well, maybe one in Louisiana. Most of the other games, other than the Michigan/Northwestern trip are all within an hour of SJS. Hey, you can save a lot of money that way (no flights) and the bay area, like LA, has plenty of good D1 programs. Take a look.
Feb 15 – 17 home Santa Clara
The last few years have not been kind to the Broncos. At one time they were a powerhouse in the bay area but not for quite a while. Last year they did a little better at 26-26 which is about as average as you can get. They couldn’t hit (.249) but pitching was ok at 4.86. They had one .300 hitter in Jason Dicochea (.323 and 1) and two big boppers. Both of the power guys are gone but Dicochea comes back. Two pitchers had the most starts and they both return. Travis Howard (3-2 and 5.03) and Alex Waldsmith (0-6 and 7.50) will both have to show improvement. Offhand this would be a thumbs down but these two programs have been at each others’ throats for years and records be damned. Thumbs up.
Feb 19 (4/23) home and away Pacific
Stockton is about 45 minutes away from San Jose but the Central Valley is a whole other planet compared to the bay area. The Tigers were 22-29 last year and hit poorly (.256) but pitching was ok at 4.93. I couldn’t find a roster so I don’t know who came back so it’s another case of I dunno? Last season they had three .300 hitters and a decent rotation. That much I can tell ya. Thumbs down.
Feb 22 – 24 home UC Riverside
Another program coming off a bad year at 19-33. Guess what? They couldn’t hit (.260) and pitching was equal to that at 5.16. No surprise. They had four .300 hitters with significant AB’s but nothing above .316. They return two of them in seniors Matt Hardy (.311 and 4) and Justin Mannens (.306). The best starter is a good one in SO Cole Percival (5-4 and 3.19) who is the son of former major leaguer Troy Percival. Genetics and coaching is hard to beat. That record got him a Freshman AA. Thumbs down.
Feb 26 (4/16) home and away Saint Mary’s
The Gaels had a decent year at 31-23 which resulted in no post season. They had decent hitting (.274) and very good pitching (3.42). Not surprisingly, they had only one .300 hitter in Kevin Milan (.302 and 5), who returns and one kid with pop, who doesn’t. Pitching is another story, and it’s a good one for the Gaels. They had a solid and stable rotation as all three were good and two for certain return. Ken Waldichuk (8-4 and 2.05) returns and he had 118 Ks in 92 IP which is very good indeed. I think he warrants pre-season AA notice if nothing else. Kevin Milan (6-4 and 3.68 and 81 Ks) is another goodie that comes back. Sophomore Michael Hobbs (3-3 and 4.24 and 11 saves) comes back to end games. The pitching is in good hands. Ken Waldichuk will be worth the price of a ticket. Thumbs up.
Mar 5 (4/2) home and away San Francisco
The Dons were a little under .500 last year at 28-30 but they are usually at least ok if not pretty good. They had three.300 hitters last years and get two back in Riley Helland (.329 and 2) and Jonathan Allen (.308 and 7). That tells me the team might hit a little better than last year’s .258. Pitching was pretty good at 3.78 with three solid starters and a reliable closer. Two of them return in Riley Ornino (8-5 and 2.58) and Landen Bourasa (8-4 and 3.02) both of whom had 14 starts which bodes well for the weekend as pitching appears in good hands. However, the closer and the third starter are gone. Still a pretty healthy start. Thumbs up.
Mar 12 road California
Cal is a team that should have been in the NCAA tournament but was not. They had the record at 32-22 and they have the star power and I’m getting to that. The National Player of the Year is Andrew Vaughn (.402 and 23) and he comes back. The Bears also had three other .300 hitters to help the team to a .287 team BA. Tyrus Greene (.320 and 3) is the only one of the three to return to form a pretty potent lineup. Pitching was ok at 4.20 but the rotation was mixed. The top two starters are gone and only Jared Horn (5-5 and 6.15) returns. The closer, Tanner Dodson, was also a good two way player, was drafted, and signed as a pitcher. The Bears should have a good offense but pitching has a few holes in the rotation to fill. Andrew Vaughn alone is worth the price of a ticket. Hell of a player. Thumbs up.
Mar 19 road Sacramento State
Another good team at 35-25. They lost in the championship game in the WAC tournament which knocked them out. Don’t you love it? They have some good players coming back led by Freshman AA Scott Randall (7-3 and 3.48). They couldn’t hit much (.259) but pitching was good (3.66). Randall will join a 2017 Freshman AA in the rotation as Parker Brahms (4-5 and 2.41 with 17 starts) make a strong duo. A third starter is gone but they do have some guys with some experience and maybe their strong recruiting class produces results. Top hitter Ian Dawkins is gone but I believe Matt Smith (.310 and 3) returns. That is not a lot of talent so some hitters need to pick it up more than a notch. Thumbs up.
Mar 26 – 27 road Michigan
This could prove to be a tough match for the Spartans. The Wolverines ended up 33-21 and had decent hitting (.275) and good pitching (3.46). That’s a pretty good combination that got them nothing in terms of post season play. Two of the top hitters earn Freshman AA as Jesse Franklin (.327 and 10 ) and Jordan Nwogu (.349 and 6 ) return for more. Sophomore Dominic Clementine (.368 and 4) was the top hitter and he returns which means three of the four top hitters return and two are outstanding frosh from the previous year. Good stuff. Top pitcher Ben Dragani (6-2 and 2.76) comes back with a Freshman AA award in hand. Karl Kauffman (6-3 and 3.08) and Tommy Henry (7-3 and 3.09) also return which rounds out the rotation. So, only one good hitter is gone and the rotation returns intact, and it was a good one. Think this team is loaded? A chance at the Big 10 title I’m guessing. Thumbs up.
Mar 29 – 31 road Northwestern
The Spartans play the Wildcats on the same road trip as Michigan. The Wildcats were a paltry 17-31 last season and both hitting (.250) and pitching (6.25) showed why. Spartans fans can sympathize as that’s what they had to watch for most of the past few years until the team caught fire in the second half of last season. Anyway, they had two .300 hitters in 2018 and only Jack Dunn (.314 and 1) returns. His brother (I’d guess) David hit .324 in limited AB’s but that’s still fairly impressive. Anyway, that’s pretty much it for hitting. Pitching, as I said, was also poor. the three from the rotation return in Hank Christie (3-5 and 4.61), Quinn Lavelle (4-5 and 4.21), and Jack Pagliarini (1-3 and 3.99). Those numbers are actually not bad so I’m assuming the pen served up a lot of hits. Pags (I’m thinking that’s a natural for a nick name) averaged greater than a K an inning. Not bad. You remember the original Pags, don’t you? Jim Paglioroni. Red Sox I think. Man, do I digress. Pitching will have to save this team. Thumbs down.
Apr 8 home Portland
The Pilots had a bad year at 23-30 and are in town to play Santa Clara in a conference series so might as well squeeze in a game with the Spartans. The hitting really wasn’t there at .261 but pitching wasn’t bad at 4.41. Sometimes other things come into play here; the Pilots had about 20 more errors than the opponents. What do you think? Would that make a difference? They had two .300 hitters and one returns in Cody Hawken (.316 and 10). I’m a little surprised he wasn’t drafted but here he is. Of the three arms in the rotation only Eli Morse (3-7 and 3.62) returns. To me, at least, his numbers suggest he should have received Freshman AA accolades but, he didn’t. Still he will be the staff leader. Closer Connor Knutson (4-2 and 2.75 with 8 saves and 41 Ks in 36 IP) also comes back. Thumbs down.
Apr 26 – 28 away Nicholls State
I love it when a team in the MWC hits the road. I mean, really hits the road. The Spartans played the Colonels (don’t you love the name?) a few years back in a home series. I asked some of the Colonels’ players what they thought about making the trip out to the bay area and they were quite happy and their coach felt they needed to see more of the US and how baseball is played elsewhere. Hats off to that coach and the administration which approved the expense. Now it’s the Spartans turn. The Colonels were 28-32 in 2018 due to I don’t know what. They hit decently at .279 and pitching was also pretty good at 4.93. They had five .300 hitters which means they probably outscored their opponents, which they did. Those that return are Brady Bell (.330 and 2), Ethan Valdez (.303), and catcher Dillon Belle (.324 and 4 in 74 AB). Not a lot of pop on this team and that helps to explain their record. The rotation returns one arm in Jacob Bedevian (3-6 and 5.40). Both Parker White and Bryan Taylor had eight starts so they probably will get more starts this season. This is a tough call so I’ll say thumbs sideways. I like the long distance travel. The guys should eat good if nothing else.
Apr 29 home Oregon
The Ducks were an uncharacteristic 26-29 in 2018. The hitting was a tepid .239 and pitching was only average at 4.59. Will they improve? I figure yes. Top hitter, and the only .300 hitter, Jakob Goldfarb (.308 and 6) returns for at least some pop. That’s it. Two from the rotation return. Top guy is Kenyon Yovan (6-4 and 2.98) and he averaged well over a K an inning so he’s certainly a keeper. He also had 5 saves so coach used him – a lot. Kolby Somers (2-7 and 4.62) also returns. Ryne Nelson (3-1 and 3.86 with 4 saves) also will provide help out of the pen. Ryne, hmm, anyone besides me remember the old reliever from the Yankees named Ryne Duren? Anyway, decent pitching with poor hitting. Kinda reminds me of the Giants. Only because this team comes from a good baseball conference and the coach do I give this one a thumbs up.
Games I like. Oregon, Michigan, Sacramento State, and Cal. Overall, not bad but certainly not great. This will be a build and repair year for the Spartans so maybe next year for a few SEC teams.