Jack Gifford Memorial Tournament Preview

The San Jose State baseball team hosts the Jack Gifford Memorial Tournament this weekend. The Air Force Academy, Southern Illinois, and UC Davis visit Municipal Stadium. Inside Sparta previews each San Jose State matchup, beginning with Friday's opener against Air Force.

The Falcons of the Air Force Academy are not doing so well this year at 3-9 against less than stellar opposition. They started the season by being swept in four games against an improving Bakersfield if that gives you any idea of how their season is going.

In 2009 the Falcons were tied for last in hitting at .291 which ain't too bad but were a pitiful 8.34 in pitching to finish last by a bunch. Needless to say, they finished at the bottom of the MWC and had a 13 game losing streak to finish the season. Very disappointing to say the least. They bring in 18 recruits for next year so, hopefully, help is on the way. I didn't want to say the cavalry since that's an army kind of thing and I didn't think that would be appreciated. Stealth bombers maybe? Oh, they have just renovated their baseball field for next season. The team was 14-37 last year and 3-18 in conference to finish last and they get blessed with a new field?

The Falcons' top hitter, senior Matt Alexander, returns after a great season hitting .383 with 15 homeruns and 65 RBIs. After having such a season and not making either of the All-MWC was surprising. The two and three hitters on the team don't return but the bulk of the offense appears to be intact. They'll hit.

The top two pitchers on a pretty poor staff return but that should add to stability if nothing else. Alex Truesdale was 2-9 with a 7.04 ERA and Michael Ruvolo was 2-1 with a 6.97 ERA. I read that of the recruits coming in more than a few are pitchers. They'll need them.

This year the team batting average is a respectable .324 but the opposition is feasting at a .403 pace. The Alexander kid is hitting .353 with two homeruns so he hasn't slowed much. Top hitter is freshman Matthew Roberts at .390 with senior Addison Gentry adding the pop at .362 and four homeruns. As I said, they will hit.

Pitching is atrocious with a team ERA of 10.80. The starting staff has been getting hit, the relievers are getting hit, well, they are all getting hit. I don't know if the bleeding will stop any time soon. Alex Truesdale is 0-2 and 10.59 (yeesh) and Michael Ruvolo has no record but is at 3.86 (wow, where did that come from? A respectable ERA.).

We'll see what the visit to the west coast does for the not-so-high-flying Falcons.

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Don Starks is the Baseball Editor of Inside Sparta. You may contact Don with any questions, comments, or tips at don@insidesparta.com

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