The journey to postseason became tougher for San Jose State baseball, who was swept by San Diego State in the final home conference series of the season: 8-4 on Friday, 5-3 in 12 innings on Saturday, and 6-5 in 10 innings on Sunday.
Unlike previous seasons, only the top four teams in the conference are eligible for the Mountain West Tournament. At the end of Sunday, San Jose State was 8-17-1 in conference play and in seventh place, behind UNLV (8-16), Nevada (9-14), and Air Force (11-14).
Saturday: San Diego State 5, San Jose State 3 (12 innings)
Josh Goldberg (2-3) took the loss for San Jose State on Saturday. Alan Trejo (2-2) got the win in relief.
San Diego State starting pitcher Dominic Purpura kept San Jose State hitless in the first four innings, before Joe Stefanki hit a bunt single to lead off the fifth. Stefanki made it to third thanks to a balk and sacrifice grounder, but San Diego State right fielder Chase Calabuig completed the catch and throw home for a double play that prevented a sac fly RBI. In the sixth, Shane Timmons scored San Jose State’s first run off an RBI single to right center.
Although Tyler Adkison extended San Diego State’s lead to 3-1 off a two-out homer, San Jose State responded by tying the game. Michael Breen and Aaron Pleschner led off with singles; San Diego State subbed out Purpura in the middle of the following at-bat. Breen later scored on a balk by reliever C.J. Saylor, and Chris Williams scored the tying run on a wild pitch also by Saylor. That was after Williams advanced to third on another Saylor balk.
These miscues by San Diego State were not as costly as Aaron Pleschner attempting to gain an extra base off a Williams single but ending up being tagged out on a squeeze play. San Jose State head coach Jason Hawkins said that Pleschner should have stopped at second. Had Pleschner not been tagged out, Saylor’s two balks would have scored Pleschner and given San Jose State a 4-3 lead after eight. Instead, the game remained tied after nine innings.
The bottom of the ninth inning had an intense end, after the home plate umpire ruled that an uncaught third strike voided the final out and instead advanced Corey Olivet to first base. That umpire later issued a delay of game warning to the San Jose State dugout.
San Jose State missed multiple opportunities to score the winning run in extras. In the tenth, Pleschner hit a leadoff single and made third base thanks to a sac grounder and sac fly. Instead, Josh Nashed struck out looking to end the inning. David Campbell and Olivet were at first and second with one out in the eleventh, only for Breen to ground out into a double play.
Reliever Josh Goldberg’s day ended following two one-out singles that put runners at the corners. A wild pitch by new reliever Joseph Balfour nearly scored San Diego State’s go-ahead run, but the pitch bounced off the wall close enough for catcher Joe Stefanki to toss the ball to Balfour at home plate for the second out. However, Balfour gave up two deep outfield RBI hits, and Zach Wallace came in to induce the final out.
Sunday: San Diego State 5, San Jose State 3 (10 innings)
This part of the recap was written by Mohamed Bafakih.
The San Jose State Spartans suffered their second consecutive conference series sweep at home on Senior Day as the San Diego State Aztecs edged the Spartans 6-5 in extra innings Sunday afternoon.
It was a back-and-forth battle between both teams as any time the Aztecs (34-15 overall, 17-7 Mountain West) scored, the Spartans (15-30-1, 8-17-1 MW) responded to keep things even.
That changed in the top of the 10th inning, however, as Aztec freshman Ryan Orr’s sacrifice bunt with one out brought infielder David Hensley home for the go-ahead run.
The Spartans would go down in order and the comeback bid fell short for the second straight game against the Aztecs.
Senior Marcus Reyes (3-2) picked up the win for SDSU over junior Josh Goldberg (2-4).
“The last two days it wasn’t perfect, but it was very competitive,” SJSU head coach Jason Hawkins said. “That’s what we challenge the guys to do, to keep playing hard no matter what the score is. You get punched, you get back up, and they did a great job of that the last two days. Unfortunately we just didn’t come out on the right end.”
The series opener on Friday was an 8-4 victory for the Aztecs, but the next two games were decided by a total of three runs.
“We can play with anybody,” senior infielder Michael Breen said following the weekend series against SDSU. “We just have to start believing that and executing it when it comes down to getting that big hit or whatever.”
Breen, who tied the game for the third and final time in the series finale at 5 apiece with an RBI single, was one of five Spartan seniors honored pregame.
“It’s been great, I love it here,” Breen, who is from nearby Hollister, said about his experience at San Jose State. “To be able to play close and have my parents, friends and family come and watch my games, it’s been awesome.”
Breen added that he hasn’t had the seasons he’s wanted in terms of winning, but he “wouldn’t trade coming here for anything.”
Additionally, being just one of four seniors, Breen has “really high expectations” for the guys coming back and is excited to watch his current teammates continue to develop under first-year head coach Jason Hawkins.
SJSU has three remaining conference games at UNLV from May 18-20 which will determine the fate of its season as it trails fourth-place Air Force by 2 ½ games; the Air Force Falcons have a 3-0 head-to-head advantage over the Spartans.
Prior to heading to Las Vegas, SJSU will be in Phoenix for nonconference matches against Grand Canyon on Tuesday and Wednesday before returning to the Bay Area to face San Francisco in a home-and-home nonconference series from May 12-15.