MWC Baseball Getting Even Tighter
And just WHO are these guys from San Jose? The boys in blue are making everyone else in the conference sit up and take notice. AND for good reason. This past weekend they take 2 of 3 from one of the good teams in the conference. That sets the Rebels’ hopes for a regular season title back a bit. The San Diego State Aztecs take 2 of 3 from New Mexico so they keep pace. The Fresno State Bulldogs drop all three with Nevada keeping the Pack in first and sinking the mutts even more. Air Force takes the weekend off by sweeping Chicago State by big scores. I must say that wasn’t much of a test but you still have to swing the bat and throw it over the plate.
San Jose State (11-12) at UNLV (11-13)
The Spartans did well in the desert but the first game didn’t look like it as they lost 11-2. Grant Robbins, Max Smith, and Nick Rodriguez all had 3 hits to lead the way in a lop-sided game. Alan Strong (7-2) went 7 pretty steady innings for the win. The Spartans took game two 8-5 evening the series. Andrew Mitchel (6-0) is showing the rest of the conference that he appears to be the real deal for the Spartans as he goes 7 IP striking out 7 and keeping the powerful Rebels in the park. Seniors Kyle Morrison, David Campbell, and Brett Bautista all had three hits as did Kellen Strahm and Sawyer Pittman; Pittman had 4 RBIs for the offensive side of the game. Five first inning runs pretty much kept San Jose State in front for the whole game. The Spartans take the rubber match 10-8 as David Campbell leads the hitters going 4 for 5 with 3 RBIs. Tevin Cadola (2-2) goes six innings to even his record. Grant Robbins went 3 for 4 with a home run for Vegas. The road gets tougher for SJS.
San Diego State (15-8) at New Mexico (9-18)
The Aztecs stay close to Nevada by taking 2 of 3 from lowly (geez, that’s hard to say) New Mexico. The first game went SDSU’s way by 11-5 as Harrison Pyatt (4-2 and 6+ IP) and Christian Winston (first save) held the Lobos to 2 hits. Jordan Verdon went 3 for 4 with 3 RBIs and his 10th home run. Matt Rudick went 3 for 6 with 3 RBIs to help out in the trampling. New Mexico stopped the Aztecs 7 game winning streak by winning 4-3 in a tight one. Both teams scored 3 runs in the first inning. Cody Dye (4-6) got the win by surviving that first inning and going 8 innings. Christian Tripp got save number 8 for his one inning of work, which is the way it should be. Jordan Verdon delivered the big blow for SDSU by hitting a 3-run homer in the first. Jordan hit 3 home runs with 10 RBIs in the series which got him his second national POW which is pretty damned good. Anyway, Robby Campillo had 2 RBIs for New Mexico. Game 3 went the Aztecs’ way 7-3 as they scored 3 in the first and 3 in the ninth to seal it. Julian Escobedo went 4 for 4 with 3 RBIs and Chase Calabuig went 3 for 5 for San Diego State. Jorge Fernandez (6-3) started and won for the Aztecs to keep pace with the Wolf Pack.
Fresno State (11-16) at Nevada (17-6)
Nevada took care of business at home by sweeping the Bulldogs in three games. Game 1 was won by a score of 4-2 as Mark Nowaczewski (5-4) bested Edgar Gonzalez in a battle of aces. Mark went the distance for the win and had 10 Ks; a job well done. Nevada’s Cole Krzmarzick provided most of the fireworks by going 2 for 3 with 2 RBI’s. The second game was a heart breaker for Fresno State and a great win for the Pack as they scored 2 in the bottom of the ninth to come from behind and win 12-11. Fresno State led 9-1 after 2 innings and things looked good but Nevada scored 5 in the third and 3 in the 4th to tie the game at 9. Fresno State scored two more runs to take seeming control but it was not to be. Fresno State’s Jeremiah Burks is becoming the best second baseman in the conference as he has 7 home runs and is hitting .330. In this game he went 4 for 5 and Korby Batesole went 3 for 4. Nate Thimjon went 2 for 4 which doesn’t sound like much but he had 6 RBIs with those 2 hits. It helps when one of the hits is a grand slam in the first inning. Anyway, the kid is looking good. Nevada counteracted that show of power with 3 home runs of their own by Joshua Zamora (3 for 5 and 3 RBIs), Mike Echavia (4 RBIs), and Kaleb Foster (3 for 5). The final game was also 12-11 but this one was decided early as Nevada scored 10 runs from the second inning through the fourth. Jake Jackson (7-3) was the winner but was ineffective in his 5 IP as he gave up 6 earned runs. He’s lost a bit of his magic as I think he may be tiring a bit at the end of a season. Keone Cabinian got his 8th save. Zach Asford had 4 hits and JT Arruda 3 for the Bulldogs. Weston Hatten was 2 for 5 with 3 RBIs for nevada. This sweep keeps the Pack atop the Mountain West.
Chicago State (9-36) at Air Force (23-24)
The Cougars of Chicago State come in to Colorado Springs and get whacked big time by scores of 10-2, 12-5, and 17-7. As you see, things got progressively worse for the Cougars. I’ve followed them in the past when I covered the WAC and the WCC as they are a member of the WAC. That coach was good to me so I always tried to put a positive spin on their games. It was a tough one as they are a perennial doormat and a good year is .500. It ain’t happening this year. C’mon guys, do it next year. I can’t say much about these games but this stuff can happen to even good teams that visit Air Force. I feel everyone who follows the MWC should go to a game or two there to see what I’m talking about. Oh, that wind. Anyway, three wipeouts. Nothing to see here.
So, Nevada is still in first by two full games and Air Force and SJS are tied for third over UNLV (1/2 game out of third) and Fresno State (two games out of third). New Mexico has hit some pretty rough road and it’s hard to tell if they’ll recover for the home stretch. Yeah, the home stretch. The teams look like they have two conference series left and that will be hard for those in back. More later.