Mountain West Continues Through Middle Part Of Season
The best series of the upcoming weekend should be Fresno State at New Mexico. These are two teams that I think probably believe they are better than their record indicates. OK, prove it. UNLV will be at West Virginia which, historically, is one of the better teams in the east. Time to show what the MWC can do.
Nevada (9-3) at San Jose State (3-8)
The Spartans are 1-7 in their last 8 games which doesn’t bode well for this weekend as they play a strong first place team in Nevada. The Wolf Pack played two games at Oregon State and lost both by a run and on the road which should speak volumes about the quality of ball they’re playing. Nevada could strengthen its hold on the top spot by taking care of the Spartans but the Spartans are 7-7 at home so can’t count them out. They have two decent pitchers in Josh Goldberg and Andrew Mitchel but Nevada can counter with Jake Jackson, Dalton Gomez, and Mark Nowaczewski. That will be tough on the Spartans but they’ll be home. Rain is forecasted.
San Diego State (7-4) at Air Force (5-7)
The Aztecs are hitting at nearly a .300 clip and the pitching is in the low threes. What’s not to like as they seem to be a team that’s clicking. I’m wondering how they’ve lost 4 games in conference. Air Force is hitting ok (but not like last year) but the pitching is forgettable. There were three well-pitched games against the Spartans this past weekend but I’m not convinced. I need to give a tip of the hat to Nick Biancalana as he is the lone bright spot in the pitching staff as he has a 2.62 ERA in 34 IP; all out of the pen.
Fresno State (4-8) at New Mexico (6-6)
The Bulldogs are hitting and hitting with power and the pitching is a little better than decent. They are always a threat to win a big series and, for them, this is one. If they expect to be viewed as a player in the MWC, they need to start winning; now. They have Edgar Gonzalez, one of the premier pitchers in the conference, so they should be in the games. The Lobos seemed to have figured this game out as they just finished taking two of three from the Aztecs which was a big series win for them. The Lobos can brag that they have one of the best closers in the west in Christian Tripp, but the team has to be leading late for him to show his stuff. This is a decisive series.
UNLV (22-8) at West Virginia (11-14)
The Rebels are the power team in the Mountain West. Kyle Isbel (9) and Nick Ames (10) are the two top big boppers in the conference. Three run home runs are the biggest weapon in baseball. Then again Nolan Ryan showed that, if his curve was working, no hitter in the world could touch him. Mean too. Anyway, they have three good starters in Chase Maddux, Alan Strong, and Larry Quaney to show the east that teams from out west are good. The Mountaineers don’t have much of a sparkling record but they are a member of the Big 12 which has a few teams that are very good. That means all teams will be tested throughout the conference season. So, what do they have? They ain’t hitting much (.244) and have only one .300 hitter. They do have pop with two hitters with five home runs and one with 6 so the lineup must be dealt with carefully. Pitching is also subpar (5.24). Two of the starters have ERAs in the high threes, which is good, and they are striking out about a batter an inning, which is excellent. The closer (Sam Kessler) has 4 saves and no ERA 0-0 and 0.00 in 8 IP over 9 appearances. Another good one out of the pen is Shane Ennis (3-1 and 2.04) who has 11 appearances. I’m saying this because it won’t necessarily be any easier if the Rebels can get to the West Virginia pen. This is a chance for the MWC to get some bragging rights. The MWC just doesn’t schedule enough teams from this part of the US. More, I say, more!