The Jacks have lost nine straight games and are 2-17 on the season. As they enter the important midway point of their season, here are five things to know about the 2018 SDSU baseball team.
1. There are several MLB prospects on the team
Senior shortstop Tony Kjolsing and sophomore pitchers, Brady Stover and Brady Moxham have received attention from scouts.
“When those guys (Kjolsing and Stover) throw, there’s 10 to 15 scouts that show up every weekend,” head coach Rob Bishop said.
Moxham owns a 0-3 record with a 7.56 earned run average but has managed to strike out 25 batters in as many innings.
Stover has been a bright spot in the Jacks rotation with an earned-run average of 2.77 but has only made three starts due to a sore shoulder.
“Hopefully we’ll get him back to full strength where he can pitch every weekend,” Bishop said. “It’s not a serious injury.”
It isn’t just the pitching staff that’s grabbing the attention of potential suitors at the next-level.
Junior utility player Nick Smith, sophomore first basemen and designated hitter Josh Falk and senior third baseman Newt Johnson are also some of the infielders who could garner interest down the road.
Smith has batted .200 on the season, and has four runs batted in. Falk leads the Jacks with a .309 batting average and 21 hits. Falk has hit two home runs in his 68 plate appearances. Johnson has had the hot bat for the Jacks and has hit three homeruns with 15 hits and a batting average of .217 percent.
“It just comes down to those guys putting together a good season,” Bishop said.
2. The lineup is full of new faces
On the Jacks roster, there are 11 college transfers. Most of the transfers come from junior colleges and lack the experience on Division l playing time.
“Even though we have guys with experience, we don’t have a lot of guys with Division I experience,” Bishop said.
The difference between the junior college level and the D-I level have been apparent, Bishop said.
“I feel like at the second half of the season, they will make adjustments,” he said.
For the Jacks to turn the corner this season, they will have to adapt to their youth and experience to use it to their advantage.
3. Power in the lineup
There are just three players in the Summit League who have hit three home runs this season and two of them are SDSU players — Seniors Newt Johnson and Anthony Schneider. Tony Kjolsing and Josh Falk both have two home runs.
As a team, SDSU and Oral Roberts are tied at 11 home runs for the Summit League conference lead.
4. Key games
April 17, 2018 versus Minnesota at Siebert Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota will be key.
Earlier this season, the Jacks dropped a 1-0 loss to the Gophers at U.S. Bank Stadium February 28. In that contest, the Jacks were held to just two hits, but their pitching held the Gophers to just three hits. In their next showdown, if the Jacks are able to get their bats going, they should have a chance to flip the script. April 20 to 22 versus Oral Roberts at Erv Huether Field.
Oral Roberts has won 19 of the last 21 Summit League Championships. If the Jacks can flip the script on the Golden Eagles, they might be able to knock off the perennial powerhouse in the Summit League Tournament.
Next game to take note of will be May 9 versus Wichita State at Eck Stadium in Wichita, Kansas.
Wichita State is off to a blazing 13-4 start to their season and own a 9-1 record when opponents visit. If the Jacks can beat Wichita in a hostile environment close to the Summit League Tournament, it could be the momentum boost they need.
5. Goal for the rest of the season
The Jacks need to get their pitching on the same page as their hitting. Against Oral Roberts, the Jacks scored 24 runs over three games. Pitching proved to be the downfall for the Jacks as they allowed 34 runs.
As a team, the Jacks have an earned-run average of 6.86. The pitching staff has allowed 14 home runs this season.
“We haven’t done quite enough on the mound to have a lot of success,” Bishop said.
Part of why the Jacks have struggled on the mound is due to their confidence.
“We have to go out there and pitch with more confidence,” Bishop said. “I don’t have any question that we have enough talent to pitch well.”
SDSU will travel to Macomb, Illinois, for a weekend series with Summit League foe Western Illinois Fighting Leathernecks on March 23 to March 25.