The Spartans of San Jose State avoided being swept in a doubleheader, and falling behind 0-3 in their four game series with arch-rivals Fresno State, by winning the second game on Saturday 2-0 in a dominating and dramatic fashion behind Ryan Shopshire. All year long it's been pitching, pitching, pitching for the Spartans and the this game was no different. San Jose's two dominant lefties, Dave Berner and Max Peterson get bested in the first two games and Spartans fans feel the world is going to end. I know I did. Who is going to get us out of this mess? Ryan Shopshire to the rescue. Remember the old song, "Jim Dandy to the Rescue", way back in the 1950s? Oh, I guess I'm getting too old, but not too old to know a masterpiece when I see one.
The second game was a seven inning affair and many people had gone home before it started for a variety of reasons. Not the least of which was not wanting to see what they may have expecting — a sweep by the ‘Dogs. Two freshmen started for the Spartans; three for the Bulldogs. FSU sent one of them to the mound in the person of Derek Benny. Benny pitched a fine game but that was not enough as Shopshire was absolutely devastating as he struck out 15 batters in his complete game shutout. That means only six other outs were recorded that were not strikeouts. That's high school type domination.
Offense for the Spartans was little (as it has been all three games) but this time it was enough. In the second inning, a bases loaded sacrifice fly by Anthony Aguilera plated one run, and they scored an unearned run in the fifth to give The Big Stopper a bit more breathing room, which he didn't need. Again, wow! 15 strikeouts, no walks, four hits, and no runs. That's a "Pitcher of the Week" effort, I'd say.
The Spartans needed this win in the worst way as they had been humbled in the first game 8-2 behind the ‘Dog's starter Cody Kendall and his reliever Zac Bischoff. Bischoff pitched the final five innings, giving zip to the Spartans. He had nearly a 9.00 ERA coming into the game, but the Spartans still could do nothing with him as he gave up no hits. A good game by the young man and a deserved win for him. I tip my hat to him. Peterson, on the other hand, was cuffed around a bit in giving up seven earned runs in his effort, which was very unlike his previous starts. To me it looked like he'd get two strikes on a batter easily enough but then would get a little too fat on his next pitches and give up a hit. If you get 0-2 or 1-2 (which are pitcher's counts) you need to get a batter out, and he didn't on far too many occasions. A bright spot was Trevor Gibson fared pretty well in eating up some innings (3.1 IP) in coming out of the bullpen.
The Bulldogs offense was working in the first game as Alan Ahmady led the way in going 4-for-4. The bottom of the lineup got eight of the 14 hits. Gavin Hedstrom was 3-for-5 with three RBIs to cement the win. The offense for the Spartans, on the other hand, did about half as well in getting only seven hits — none when they really needed one. A case in point was the bottom of the fourth, when the Spartans scored their only runs of the game. Yes, they scored two runs to make it a close game but they had a chance to bust it open against Kendall. The bases were loaded with none out when Corey Valine bounced into a double play to score one and essentially take the wind out of that budding rally. Anthony Aguilera doubled for an RBI, Craig Hertler singled him to third (he would have almost certainly been out at the plate if he had been sent home) and it appeared more runs might be in the offing. However, Jason Martin proceeded to strike out on three pitches, and that was it for this game. An irritating trend I noticed in this game was the Spartans hitters making too many outs on the very first pitch of their at bats. I don't know if this was by design or being over anxious but a pitcher dearly loves one-pitch outs almost as much as double plays, as this game clearly showed.
The official attendance count was 1056, which is pretty good for an SJSU game, but still about 1/2 of what I thought would be there.
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Don Starks is the Baseball Editor of Inside Sparta. You may contact Don with any questions, comments, or tips at firstname.lastname@example.org
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