Recap of the Weekend Mountain West Games of March 17
There were some surprises over this past weekend. Oh, why am I so late with this report? I’m a birder and just returned from an extended weekend in the SE corner of Arizona. I make no apologies for my other obsessions besides baseball. I’m still on the trail to sample all of the breweries in Colorado of which there are over 200 with new ones popping up all over. I may die first. Anyway the highlights of the past weekend’s games have to be SJS taking a series against a good Fresno State with 2, TWO, well-pitched games by the boys in blue. The other is the continued excellence by Nevada’s freshman starting pitcher Jake Jackson who threw a shutout in his one appearance. The guy’s truly an ace. The Spartans’ Josh Goldberg has emerged as the Spartans’ ace but we’ll see if anyone else comes out of the woodwork to help out that beleaguered staff.
Fresno State (3-6) at San Jose State (2-6)
The first two games of this series knocked my socks off. The Spartans took the first two which was shocking enough but how they did it took that to another level. PITCHING! Both starters did well and the staff kept the mutts to one run in both games. I never saw that coming. In addition, they dealt Edgar Gonzalez a loss and he’s one of the premier pitchers in the conference. I told ya the Spartans would score. Anyway, the Spartans took two of three from Fresno State which should remove a bit of the sting of reading about the SJS basketball team basically calling it quits. You want me to write about that, too?! So, Edgar Gonzalez (3-1) pitched 6 pretty good innings but that wasn’t enough as the story of this game was all Josh Goldberg (2-1) as he threw a complete game winning by 4-1 and no earned runs. Brett Bautista continued his hitting ways going 3 for 4 but it was Chris Williams who provided the offense as he went 2 for 4 with 3 RBI’s. Game two was a rout by 10 to 1 with SJS getting 16 hits in the win. Andrew Mitchel (2-0) went 6 IP for the win and the offense was supplied by Shane Timmons (4 for 5) and David Campbell (3 for 4 with 3 RBI’s). Losing pitcher Ryan Jensen (0-2) could only manage 2+ IP in his start. The Bulldogs retained a bit of their sanity in salvaging the final game 6-3. The pitching staff pretty much shut down the Spartans offense as they held the boys in blue to 4 hits. The hitting star was Miles Tomczak who went 2 for 4 with 4 RBI’s but Jeremiah Burks went 4 for 5 to add to things. That was enough. Jaime Arias (2-0) got the win in relief. Nicholas Morales (1-3) absorbed the loss as the starter.
UNLV (5-1) at Air Force (2-4)
The Rebels take 2 of 3 from the Falcons and move up in the polls to #19 in one of them. That makes the MWC look good but how, why, who? They were last place in 2017 so what the heck is going on? Hitting and hitting with power along with better than decent pitching, that’s what. Game one was a point in context. The Rebels scored 11 runs on 17 hits against a hapless Air Force pitching staff. Alan Strong (4-0) went 6+ IP in effective fashion as he struck out 7 and walked one in the 11-6 win. Dillon Johnson (4 for 6 with 3 RBI’s), Kyle Isbel (4 for 6), and Nick Rodriguez (2 for 6 with 3 RBI’s and a home run) were the hitting stars. Kyle Isbel and SJS’s Brett Bautista are the two premier hitters in the Mountain West but Isbel has to top the list of two as he has 7 home runs. He could be running away with POY honors if he keeps it up. Game two? Not much pitching to brag about here as the Rebels score 12 runs in the 7th inning to win easily (?) 19-15. Four home runs in this game so the wind must have REALLY been blowing out as it does anyway. Hitting for both sides. UNLV’s Bryson Stott (2 for 5 with 4 RBI’s), Nick Rodriguez (4 for 5 with 4 RBI’s and a home run), and Jack-Thomas Wold (4 for 5 and 4 runs). The Falcons countered with Nic Ready (4 for 6 and 5 RBI’s and a home run) and Colby Brown (5 for 6) but it wasn’t enough. The Falcons won the final game 15-12 which looks like the way they’ll have to do it this year. Three games and no pitching. Air Force scored 8 runs in the bottom of the first but the Rebels struck back with 7 in the top of the third. That set the tone in this game. The hitting machine named Kyle Isbel went 4 for 5 with 4 RBI’s and a home run. Five other guys had two hits apiece but still lost. Ashton Easley was the big stick for the Falcons as he went 3 for 4 with 4 RBI’s and a home run. Nic Ready went 4 for 5 with a home run also. Ryan Robb, Drew Wiss, and Tyler Ward had three hits. Geez, I get tired talking about all the hits but that’s what you get in a 15-12 game at Air Force. Lots of offense.
SDSU (14-6) at Cal Poly (8-12)
The Aztecs take care of business at Cal Poly by taking two of three on the road. They win the game that featured offense (9-7) and the pitching duel (3-2) and lost the one somewhat in between (5-4). Game one’s starter, Jacob Erickson did well enough and handed the ball over to the pen which promptly gave up a comfortable lead that led to a 6-6 tie. Matt Rudick (3 for 4) and Jordan Verdon (2 for 5 with 4 RBI’s) were the hitting stars. The middle game was won by Cal Poly by 5-4. The pen again gave up the game in this one as the Aztecs were leading 4-1 when the Mustangs scored 3 in the eighth and 1 in the bottom of the ninth to win it. Hmm, is the pen becoming a concern? Dean Nevarez went 3 for 4 and Julian Escobedo went 4 for 4 in a losing cause. Garrett Hill (4-0) went 6+ strong innings in getting the win. Jordan Verdon had 2 RBI’s and Chase Calabuig had the other which was enough for the win. Oh, did I mention that the Aztecs were rated #25 at the start of the series? I see no reason for that to change as they won 3 of 4 games for the week. Good showing.
UC Riverside (10-9) at Nevada (9-7)
Weather played a big part in this series as only two games were played on Sunday because of precip of some sort. The first game was won by the Pack as immovable object Jake Jackson (4-0) went 8 shutout innings by a final score of 3-0. For this kid, so far so great. Eight innings ten strike outs. Grant Fennell had 2 RBI’s and Joshua Zamora had a home run. Game two was no game as UCR won easily 9-2 behind starter Cole Percival (3-1). If that name sounds familiar, it should. His dad (I’m guessing) is the coach and former big league pitcher, Troy Percival. Anyway, a split of the double header.
New Mexico (8-11–1) at a Houston tournament (Columbia and Houston)
The Lobos take two from Columbia by 10-9 and 3-1 scores but lose a tough one against Houston 1-0. Garrett Goldsmith’s RBI single in the top of the 11th inning put this game to bed for the Lobos against Columbia. That single capped a 2 for 2 day and off the bench I suspect in this instance. Jared Mang went 2 for 4 with 4 RBI’s and a home run to break out of a minor season-long slump. We’ll see how he goes from here. The second game was against Houston in which the Cougars won by 1-0. An amazing factoid is that Houston had 11 hits and 2 walks which produced the only run of the game. Loser Justin Slaten (1-4) deserted a better fate. Winner Trey Cumbie (1-1) pitched a complete game striking out 10 Lobos and walking none. Couldn’t ask for more from a starting pitcher. The Cougars’ Joe Davis was the sole offensive highlight with 3 hits. The Lobos beat Columbia again by 3-1 in a game that featured little offense but a good amount of pitching by both sides. Cody Dye (1-3) went 8 solid innings for the win.