San Jose State stuns Arkansas in 31-24 road win

Photo credit: @SJSUSpartanFB

By Ana Kieu

San Jose State hit the road for the first time this season to face the Arkansas Razorbacks in a nationally televised game on SEC Network.

SJSU started on offense and got on the board first. Fifth-year senior quarterback Josh Love threw a 3-yard pass to JaQuan Blackwell for the first touchdown of the game (and on the first drive). Matt Mecurio kicked in the extra point. It was 7-0 SJSU at 12:44 of the first quarter.

The Spartan defense held the Razorbacks to a 3-and-out on their first possession. Arkansas went for it on 4th and 2 from the 4-yard line and “stuffed” so the Spartans took over on downs with 6:02 left in the first.

With his first reception as a Spartan true freshman, Isaiah Holiness went for 32 yards to the 50-yard line. However, Mercurio’s 46-yard field goal attempt was no good.

After that, Arkansas took over as they scored on a 62-yard pass play to tie the game 7-7 with 1:07 left in the first. Nick Starkel threw a 62-yard pass to Mike Woods for the touchdown. Connor Limpert kicked in the extra point.

Love attempted to hit Isaiah Hamilton on the deep ball, but it was intercepted by Arkansas, who took over at the 34-yard line with 32 seconds left in the first.

The game was tied 7-7 at the end of the first.

SJSU went on a bursting run in the second quarter. Ethan Aguayo recorded his first interception of the season and the Spartans took it back on the first play of the second. Two plays later, freshman quarterback Nick Nash ran for a 15-yard touchdown to help the Spartans regain the lead 14-7 at 14:18 of the second. Mercurio kicked in the extra point.

Mercurio hit a career-long 47-yard field goal to give the Spartans a 17-7 lead with 6:09 left in the second. Love then threw a 26-yard pass to Holiness for the touchdown. Mercurio kicked in the extra point. The Spartans led 24-7 with 1:06 left in the second and carried a 24-7 lead to the locker room at halftime.

Arkansas pulled within 14 on Limpert’s 48-yard field goal with 5:01 left in the third quarter.

SJSU led 24-10 at the end of the third.

Arkansas continued to pull closer. Starkel threw a 30-yard pass to Tyson Morris for the touchdown. Limpert kicked in the extra point. Arkansas, however, still trailed 24-17 at 13:10 of the fourth quarter.

The Spartan defense made a big stop on the third down. As a result, SJSU got the ball back on their own 44 with 9:09 left in the fourth.

The Spartans were concerned for a bit as the Razorbacks tied the game 24-24 with 2:56 left in the fourth. Starkel threw a 8-yard pass to Trey Knox for the touchdown. Limpert kicked in the extra point. But the Spartans came through at the right time when DeJon Packer ran for 19 yards for the final touchdown and Mercurio kicked in the final extra point for a 31-24 lead with 1:13 left in the fourth.

SJSU (2-1) defeated Arkansas (2-2) by a final of 31-24.

SJSU heads to Falcon Stadium to take on the Air Force Falcons on Friday, September 27 at 5 p.m. PT.

Giants Minor League Spotlight: Bryan Reynolds top draft pick of 2016

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by Charlie O. Mallonee

The San Francisco Giants did not have a first-round selection in the 2016 MLB first-year player draft due to the signing of free agent pitcher Jeff Samardzija. The Giants were looking for a sleeper in the second-round that might have above average talent.

The organization feels they found just that in outfielder Bryan Reynolds whom they selected in second-round (59th overall). The Giants believe they found first-round talent that had not been selected earlier.

Reynolds comes out of a big time college program at Vanderbilt who plays in the very tough Southeastern Conference. Vanderbilt won the College World Series in 2014 and was the runner-up 2015. Reynolds played on both of those teams.

Reynolds is a 6-foot-3, 200 pound outfielder who is a switch-hitter and throws right-handed. He does not possess any plus-tools but is considered a strong all-around player. There is some concern about his ability to make contact against quality pitching.

His two strongest attributes are his speed and his patience. Reynolds is able to use his speed to cover center field on defense and to steal bases when given the chance. He is able to be patient at the plate and draw walks if he is not given anything by the pitcher to hit.

Reynolds is currently playing in the short season Class A Northwest League with THE Salem-Keizer Volcanoes. He leads the league with a .328 batting average. Reynolds has a .399 on base percentage, .557 slugging percentage and a very impressive .956 OPS so far this season. On defense, he has committed just one error in 33 games.

Reynolds has 40 hits in 122 at bats including 11 doubles, one triple and five home runs. He has picked up 23 rbi while walking 11 times and striking out just 30 times. Reynolds was named Northwest League Player of the Week for July 11-17.

Reynolds is considered to be the fourth best prospect in the Giants farm system at this time. The estimate is that fans can expect to Bryan Reynolds at AT&T Park in 2019.

Photo Credit: Salem-Keizer Volcanoes Gordie Clary

 

In Claiming Francis Off Waivers, Athletics Seek Another Successful Salvaging of a Southpaw

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By Matthew Harrington

The Oakland Athletics hope lightning strikes three times this season after claiming reliever Jeff Francis off waivers from the Cincinnati Reds Sunday afternoon while option reliever Joe Savory back to Sacramento. In claiming Francis, general manager Billy Beane takes on his third southpaw reclamation project of the season after signing former All-star hurler Scott Kazmir in the offseason and trading for once highly-touted prospect Drew Pomeranz during the winter.

Francis, a former first round pick (ninth overall) of the Colorado Rockies in the 2002 draft appeared bound for Super Stardom in the Mile High City after his first full season in 2005. That year he finished with the sixth-fewest hits allowed in the National League at the ripe age of 24 years old.

He blossomed into a dominant pitcher in 2007, finishing ninth in the NL Cy Young voting despite a hitter-friendly Coors-field aided earned run average of 4.30. The Vancouver, British Columbia native took the ball 34 times that season with only five other qualifying NL starters allowing fewer hits. As the staff ace, Francis led Colorado to the franchises’ lone World Series appearance. While he played a large role in getting the Rockies to the Fall Classic, Francis was shelled to the tune of six runs in four innings of game one of what ultimately became four-game sweep at the hands of the Boston Red Sox.

From there, Francis’ narrative is all too familiar. The fireballing stud becomes a lame-duck dud after arm injuries limited him to 24 starts in 2008. Francis missed all of 2009 after going under the knife to repair a torn labrum in his pitching shoulder. In 2010, he returned to piece together a respectable but unremarkable 5.00 ERA over 20 games (19 starts) before heading to Kansas city. With the Royals, Francis appeared to be a cobble together a bounce-back year, producing a 4.82 ERA over 31 starts. The Reds liked what they saw in Francis, signed him to a contract but released him in June without reaching the majors, setting up a reunion with the Rockies. The move saw his runs against rise just like his new home park’s elevation. By 2013 he eventually lost his role in the rotation and finished with a career-worst 6.27 ERA earning a ticket out of the Centennial State.

The Reds again took a flier on Francis this winter with a minor league deal then called him up to the big club after a strong showing at Class AAA Louisville where he allowed 18 earned runs over eight starts and 48.2 innings. He made his MLB season debut on May 15th against the Padres, allowing three earned runs a loss and a demotion back to AAA after five innings. The A’s, in need of an emergency starter, claimed him off waivers and returned him to the relief role he occupied last season with the Rockies.

If Francis needs a muse, he need only look at a former teammate, the man whose promotion created his opportunity in a long relief. Drew Pomeranz, a former first round pick himself, came to Oakland in a trade with Colorado for Brett Anderson in the offseason, making the A’s his third team already before reaching the age of 25. With the expectations of excellence met by the actuality of average performance coming into the season, Pomeranz found himself a longshot to make the A’s roster coming into Spring Training. With injuries sidelining the one-two punch of starters Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin, Pomeranz leveraged a strong spring into a bullpen spot as the long man in Oakland. From there, the former All-American impressed, allowing a scant three runs over 13 and 2/3 innings, giving way to an impromptu audition for a rotation role with Dan Straily and Tommy Milone struggling at the backend.

Pomeranz’s appearance on the line-up card as starter of game two of a make-up double header against Seattle on May 7th came as an initial surprise, but how he delivered in his spot start sparked the real headlines. Pomeranz fired a two-hit five inning performance without yielding a run to the M’s. Once is an anomaly, but twice is a trend. With that in mind, Pomeranz backed up his first look with a worthy encore, baffling the Chicago White Sox his next time out to three hits and no runs, again going five strong. Suddenly Pomeranz again resembles the former Southeastern Conference Pitcher of the Year at the University of Mississippi, a can’t-miss prospect generating buzz after notching 13 punch-outs over his ten innings as a rotation member.

If Pomeranz scuffles, Francis can look to the rock-steady performance of another rebound role model, Scott Kazmir. Kazmir came to Oakland after his early All-World stock with Tampa Bay plummeted with injuries. After All-star seasons in 2006 and 2008 capped by a trip to the World Series with the Rays, the lefty bounced around with the Los Angeles Angels and Cleveland before hitting the open market this past offseason. Beane and co. opened the pocket book in hopes of finding an ace-in-waiting, inking the southpaw to a cool $7 million in 2014 with another $11 million on the books next season. So far, Kazmir has proven a wise investment, appearing on his way to a Mid-Summer Classic six years removed from his last All-Star appearance. Kazmir boasts a 2.39 ERA and a 5-1 mark over his first nine starts.

While it’s unknown what Francis can bring to the A’s, it’s clear he’s in good hands with manager Bob Melvin, pitching coach Curt Young and staff. So far, they’re two-for-two in redemption stories. Even if they swing and miss with Francis, a .667 batting average isn’t bad in baseball. At the very least, the game plan to success has clearly been laid out for Francis.