The Mountain West Race Tightens Even More

SJSU's Andrew Mitchel is fast becoming one of the conference aces - credit Kym Fortino

The Mountain West Race Tightens Even More

Air Force

The Mountain West Race Tightens Even More

The MWC Is Haves and Have Nots – Just Like Every other Conference

The haves in the Mountain West are Nevada, San Diego State, and UNLV. The have nots are the rest of the conference. But, and this is a pretty big but, the bottom of the Mountain West is much improved over last year and can still make a difference in the race for the regular season title. I’m talking the Spartans here as the doormat is a power to be reckoned with. They are 6-3 in the last few games and have taken the last two series on the road. That all means little but they are hitting and winning a lot more than I had expected. Read on.

New Mexico (8-16) at San Jose State (9-11)

There is joy in mudville. The boys in blue swept the hapless Lobos at home and, I’d never thought I’d say that. They are now 4 games ahead of New Mexico and I never thought I’d say that. They are tied with Fresno State (ahead by two losses in the loss column) and a half game behind UNLV for the 4th spot in the standings. Yeah, I know, I’m counting condors before the eggs hatch and now you know where my sentiments lie. Was there ever a doubt? So what happened. The Spartans won game one 6-5 in extras as a ground ball scored the winning run on a play at the plate. The Lobos got a crooked number in the third inning to go up 5-0 and never scored again as SJS chipped away at the lead. The ever reliable Brett Bautista went 3 for 4, Kyle Morrison went 3 for 5, and Aaron Pleschner went 3 for 4 and 3 runs for the winners. Fineas Del Bonta-Smith (3-3) went two innings with 4 Ks for the win. Andrew Mitchel (5-0) was the starter and winner in game two as the Spartans won 5-4 in regular time. Mitchel has shown he can strike out a batter or two while on the mound and he struck out 11 in his 7 IP. No real hitting stars just a good team effort but Bautista had two more hits. To complete the sweep Kellen Strahm had 3 hits as did David Campbell. This game had more than its share of drama as the final score was 3-2. It was 1-1 until the top of the ninth when the Lobos pushed across a run to put the Spartans in a do or die spot. Well, they did. Strahm’s single plated the winning run in the bottom of the ninth. Pitching did it’s part giving up only 1 earned run. That’s a streak of five wins with Pacific and UNLV coming up. 

UNLV (10-11) at San Diego State (13-7)

The Aztecs took a pretty important series for both teams and took all the marbles home as they swept the Rebels dealing the boys from Vegas a severe blow to post season aspirations. Game 1 was the ultimate pitchers’ duel as Harrison Pyatt (3-2) bested Alan Strong (6-2) 1-0. As I see it, the Aztecs were a bit on the fortunate side to get a win as their pitchers walked 6 but struck out 12 and that was probably the difference. Game two was smoothly going the Rebels way as they had a 5-0 lead going into the bottom of the fourth when the bottom starting falling apart. A 5 run bottom of the fifth led to a final of 7-6. Dropping early inning leads is hard to take but it happens. The Rebels’ Dillon Johnson had 3 hits and 2 RBIs and Nick Ames hit his 15th home run. The Aztecs were led by Chad Bible as he had 3 hits and 2 RBIs and 2 runs. The Aztecs won the final game 4-2 to complete the sweep. Jorge Fernandez (5-3) went 5+ IP for the win. The sweep puts the Aztecs in a solid second place and nipping at the heels of a nervous Nevada. 

Nevada (21-19) at Nebraska (20-22)

I’m keeping this one short as another sweep dimmed any luster the MWC had going into this 3 game series. The only redeeming feature of these three games was Nevada’s Joshua Zamora hitting 3 home runs giving him 7 for the year. The kid’s a freshman so enjoy his presence while you can. I am severely disappointed. Gack!

Air Force (11-12) at Fresno State (11-13)

Finally, a series with no sweeps. The Bulldogs take two of three from Air Force so there you have it. Here’s more. Edgar Gonzalez (7-2) struck out 12 in 7+ IP as the Bulldogs won game one 7-2. Fresno State scored 3 in the bottom of the first and that pretty much settled it but they added insurance throughout the rest of the game. The Falcons got a bit of revenge in game two winning 14-4. They scored 4 runs in both the top of the second as well as the top of the fourth and that was enough. The Falcons were led by Drew Wiss (3 hits), Nic Ready (2 hits, 6 RBIs, and a home run), and Ryan Robb (3 hits). Ready’s home run was his 14th and he could be a contender for POY in the MWC. Jaime Arias (5-1) was the winner in a game where one of the teams forgot to show up. The mutts won easily 10-0 behind 3 hits and 4 RBIs by Carter Bins and lots of other offensive output.

How does the Mountain West look now? Pretty tight. SDSU is 1 game out of first and Nevada does not look like a world beater right now; especially after that miserable showing in Lincoln. Again, gack! 

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