The Inside Pitch: SJSU seeks an offensive breakthrough

By Daniel Reedy:

No matter what the cliches claim, it is offense that wins championships  — and so far, San Jose State hasn’t had much of it.

The Spartan pitching staff has excelled out of the gate, leading the Mountain West Conference in ERA and ranking second in hits allowed.

However, no matter how well SJSU does on the mound, success on the field will be futile if the Spartans can’t get their offense going.

SJSU ranks dead last in all major offensive categories: average, on base percentage, runs, home runs, etc. As a team, SJSU is hitting just .188 with on-base and slugging percentages that are both lower than five of the six other MW teams’ batting averages.

The Spartans have only scored 16 runs this season  — barely over half of what the second-worst output (Nevada) has scored. They have also walked the least amount of times and stolen the least amount of bases.

With former Spartan Ozzy Braff now graduated, SJSU has struggled to find its stroke. The power hitter was a vital piece of the offense and the Spartans surely miss his .467 slugging percentage.

Last season’s leading hitter Shane Timmons is back for another season but after hitting .328 in 2016, is batting a dismal .125.

All this considered, hope is not lost in San Jose.

For one, it’s still early in the season and catcher Joe Stefanki is quietly hitting .417 over limited playing time.

Freshman Kellen Strahm is batting .346. The former high school football player transferred from Lane Community College and has started every game this season.

Outfielder Chris Williams is in his second stint at SJSU and is only hitting 167 but leads the team in RBIs. Williams has some pop and could potentially replace some of Braff’s power output.

The 6-foot-3 David Campbell is off to a sluggish start, batting .227 thus far . Campbell doesn’t bring much power but adds a contact bat to the middle of the order, finishing last season with a  .342 average.

Both Austin Tidwell and Aaron Pleschner, who are both in the lineup for their defensive abilities, have shown flashes. Consistent hitting from either 6-foot sophomore would certainly benefit SJSU.

Despite the lack of offense, the Spartans are 3-4 and two of their losses were one-run games. If the pitching can sustain its success, a little boost to the Spartan bats could put this team far above its predicted last-place finish.

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