Always Surprises In The Mountain West
Is Nevada taking two of three from San Jose State a surprise? Nah. San Diego State losing two of three at Air Force. Well, yeah. Fresno State sweeping New Mexico in Albuquerque? Hard to figure both of these teams. UNLV dropping two of three at West Virginia? Not really, even though I was expecting/hoping for a better showing. Nevada keeps pulling away from the rest of the pack? Yeah, but becoming less so.
Nevada (11-4) at San Jose State (4-10)
The Spartans drop the first game 10-9 in a game they led 5-0 after 1 inning. No Spartans pitcher distinguished themselves nor did Nevada’s freshman Jake Jackson who gave up those 5 runs and 3 more in 4 IP. He’s becoming a lot more human, which is too bad. A bright spot for Nevada was Dillan Shrum going 5 for 5 with 5 RBIs and a home run. Weather dictated a doubleheader for Sunday which was split. Game one was won in 11 innings by Nevada 5-4. The Spartans scored three runs in the 8th and 9th innings to come back from a 4-1 deficit to force overtime (Go Sharks!). Pitching for both teams was ok and hitting was led by two Nevada hitters (Grant Fennell and Mike Echavia) who both had 3 hits and one SJS guy, Kyle Morrison who had 3 hits. Game two gave the Spartans some satisfaction as they won 6-3 behind good pitching by Tevin Cadola (1-2), Nicholas Morales, and Wesley Clawson. A four run third inning put SJS over the top and then pitching held on. I might add that Nevada is not getting a whole lot of respect from the rest of the world. Few believe they will be in first at the end or that they may get a bid after all is said and done. They will have to run the table.
San Diego State (8-6) at Air Force (7-8)
The Aztecs have hurt their chances at regaining first place by dropping two of three at Air Force. Maybe they forgot their long Johns. Hard to believe but game one was a pitchers duel won by the Falcons 2-0. Two to nothing!! At Air Force!! See, it can be done. Nick Biancalana (3-1) and Ryan Holloway team up to shut down the Aztec offense and hold them to 5 meaningless hits. Nic Ready did most of the damage as he went 2 for 3 and his 10th home run. He’s better than his freshman season; the guy’s a stud. The second game of the DH was more typical as Air Force won 12-7. Offense? The Aztecs had Chad Bible go 3 for 5 with a home run and five others with 2 hits but it wasn’t enough. Air Force had only 10 hits teamed with 6 walks and Nic Ready’s 11th home run. So, let me make this clear. 17 hits compared to 10 and still outscored by 5 runs. Two home runs against one and still lose. Here’s my point; 6 walks against 1 (ONE!) and the two homers were solo shots. That’s the difference. Let’s move on. Game three? More pitching woes as the Aztecs win 15-11. Both teams had 19 hits. There were 6 home runs in this game. Lots of guys did lots of things but the Aztecs David Hensley was 3 for 4 with 4 RBIs and a home run. I’m going to leave it at that.
Fresno State (7-8) at New Mexico (6-9)
The dog fight resulted in a wounded Lobos team limping off after getting swept. Fresno State took game one 15-5 with the teams totaling 28 hits. Ryan Jensen (1-3) got the win going 6 effective innings. He gave up 10 hits but walked only 1 and pretty much kept New Mexico from scoring. Conversely, Fresno State belted every pitcher New Mexico put out there. Jeremiah Burks (3 for 4 with 3 RBIs) and Carter Bins (3 for 6 with 5 RBIs) were the big bats. Game two was a squeaker as the mutts win 7-6. Edgar Gonzalez went 6 IP giving up only 1 run but didn’t figure in the final as Jamison Hill (2-3) got the win in relief. The Bulldogs’ JT Arruda went 3 for 5 with 4 RBIs and New Mexico’s Hayden Schilling went 4 for 6. Fresno State won the final 11-6 to complete the sweep. Carter Bins and Jeremiah Burks both had home runs as well as 3 RBIs. I think the story of this series (and for the year, really) is that New Mexico had plenty of hits but showed little pop. This ain’t the Lobos of old.
UNLV (23-10) at West Virginia (13-15)
I’ll start by saying that UNLV is 6-0 against the Pac-12 this season as they pummeled Arizona State this week 14-6. That kind of stuff is noticed. However, a better showing in Morgantown would have helped as they lost 2 of 3 to West Virginia. In a Saturday DH they won the opener 11-4 as Nick Ames had 3 RBIs and Alan Strong (5-0) went 6 IP for the win. Game two was a stunner as UNLV led 7-2 until the bottom of the 8th when the Mountaineers scored 5 times and then 1 in the ninth to win it. Easy to figure out; pen failure. UNLV loses the rubber game 7-5 as they get outhit 13-7. That should tell you all you need to know. Walks were about the same. The Mountaineers’ Marques Inman was the guy as he did something in all three games and had two home runs. Hats off to him. Yes, the Rebels had their chances to take the series but didn’t.