The Mountain West Is Tighter Still Heading Into The Home Stretch
Nevada is in first place thanks, in part, to San Jose State’s splitting four games (one make up) with San Diego State. Nevada dropped two of three at UNLV which puts the squeeze on all the teams. Hawaii took two of three from Fresno State and what has happened to those guys? New Mexico and Air Force bashed each other around as the Lobos took two of the three games. I think it’s pretty simple, actually, to explain what has happened to the Lobos. They’ve relied on the long ball since I’ve been writing about them and the Mountain West. They don’t have that this season and they’re paying the price. Read on.
Nevada (18-8) at UNLV (13-14)
Nevada was in a position to basically sew up the title if they could sweep the Rebels which hasn’t been burning any barns lately. But they didn’t. In fact they made it a tighter race with only San Diego State having any chance of catching the Wolf Pack on the final weekend coming up. The Wolf Pack is 1.5 games up which doesn’t give them much wiggle room. Ain’t going to spend an hour on how things could go; just say the Aztecs have a decent chance. Back to the games. The Pack dropped the first game 8-7 in extras as the Rebels score a run in the bottom of the 11th win. The coaches threw both of their aces but neither of them were around at the finish and neither did that well. Four home runs with two by each team were the offensive highlights. Mike Echavia went 3 for 4 with four others getting 2 hits. For the Rebels Nick Ames and Max Smith had three hits and three others had 2. Pretty even on both sides of the field as both teams had 14 hits. Kyle Isbel had 3 runs and scored the winner on Nick Rodriguez’s single. Blaze Bohall (3-2) got the win. I gotta say that I thought he was going to be a great pitcher at UNLV but he was good, just not great. The Pack took a wrong turn heading towards the park as they got pummeled 8-1 and were never really in the game. Nick Rodriguez was the offense as he went 4 for 5 with 2 dingers. Not bad for a middle infielder. Trevor Horn (4-5) got the win going 6+ in effective fashion and left it up to the pen to finish things, which they did. I’m thinking the Wolf Pack is getting a bit nervous as they dropped the first two but they squeaked one out in the final by 12-4. They were down 3-2 going into the 5th inning but scored 3 there and in the 6th to pull away a bit. Grant Fennell went 4 for 5 with 3 runs and 2 RBIs to lead the way. Joshua Zamora and Mike Echavia both had 3 hits and Echavia had a home run. Jake Jackson (8-3) went 8 strong in getting the win. His strike outs have gone down quite a bit in the last few months but he was effective in this game none-the-less. Freshman POY in my book.
San Jose State (13-14) at San Diego State (17-10)
The boys in blue keep doing it. Four games as one was a make up of a game rained out in San Jose. The Spartans made a sandwich by winning both ends of the four games and getting swept in the doubleheader. Whoda thunk these guys were going to make a statement this year and late in the season? I always hope but I was with most in figuring they were doomed to finish last again this year. One more series to make a point on the season. The games will be a new feeling for them; the stress of important gotta win games. AND, they split the games on the road with a very good Aztec team. They’re making believers of the conference. The Spartans won the opener as the home team and won 3-2 by scoring 3 in the third and made it hold up. Catcher Johnny Mendoza had two RBIs which proved to be the difference. David Campbell had the other. I have to hand it to starter Jake Swiech (3-3) as he held the powerful Aztecs to a single run in his 5+ IP. San Diego State’s Harrison Pyatt (4-3) wasn’t far behind but gave up all the runs in taking the loss. A good game. Chase Calabuig had 3 hits for the losing team. The first game of the DH was another close one as the Aztecs won 2-1 as Justin Goossens-Brown (5-2) pitched a complete game getting the win. For the Spartans a Shane Simmons home run was the only offense. For the Aztecs Chad Bible went 3 for 4 with a dinger. Game two was a bit uglier as the Aztecs won easily 16-4 getting 20 hits. The top four in the Aztec lineup accounted for 14 of the hits which speaks volumes about production. Matt Rudick had 3 hits, David Hensley had 4 with 5 RBIs, Chase Calabuig had 4 hits, and Jordan Verdon had 3 hits with 3 RBIs. Heard enough? Garrett Hill (7-2) went long enough to get the win. The only bright spot for the Spartans was Johnny Mendoza’s first home run and 4 RBIs which was all the offense. I don’t know what’s happened to Josh Goldberg (2-7) as he was pretty good early in the season. Game four went San Jose State’s way as they win 6-4 thanks to Johnny Mendoza. He went 4 for 5 with 5 RBIs and his second home run. He’s a freshman and he has learned to hit late in the season. Could be a stud in the making. The game went 10 innings as the boys in blue struck for two runs to win it as Mendoza drove in the two with a single. Big hit for a freshman. This was a big series for both teams and I think the Aztecs came out of it feeling they had a chance to take over first place and the Spartans felt they are on a roll. One more series.
Hawaii (25-20) at Fresno State (28-23)
I’ll be quick about this OOC series as I’ve lost interest in them at this time of year where teams are jockeying for position in the conference and possible selection for the post season. Hawaii won the first game 6-4 in ten innings. Game two was just as bad for the Bulldogs as they lose 8-5 giving up four runs in the last two innings. These games were at home and I’m hearing rumblings. Jeremiah Burks went 3 for 3 with a homer and the conference seems to be packed with good second basemen. Finally, a pitcher’s duel as the mutts win 3-1 behind Nikoh Mitchell (4-2) who went 7 IP with 7 Ks. Less than a thousand attending the game which says a lot about the fans’ state of mind.
New Mexico (11-19) at Air Force (12-14)
In a game that went back and forth, the Lobos took game one 7-6. Jeff Deimling went 4 for 6, Derek Marshall went 3 for 5 and Brayden Merritt went 3 for 5 for most of the offense. Closer Christian Tripp (2-3) got the win in relief as he went 3 IP which is a lot for a closer but not so much in the amateur ranks. In a tight game with no pitching to speak of, the Lobos win again 13-12 as they score 2 runs in the top of the ninth to win it. The Falcons scored 6 in the first but couldn’t hold onto the lead as New Mexico scored their crooked number in the top of the sixth (5 runs). Anyway, lots of runs, back and forth. Jeff Deimling was the big bat for the Lobos. He went 4 for 5 with 3 RBIs. Daniel Zakosek and Phillip Sikes both had 3 hits. Leadoff hitter Justin Watari had a career day as he went 4 for 5 with 3 runs and 2 RBIs. That’s how you set the table. No pitcher distinguished himself. The final game a football kind of score that Air Force seems to revel in as they win 21-8. Even when they are not that good, they can score. They had a 17-2 lead after 4 innings and now you can relax. Five hitters had 3 hits for the Falcons led by Nic Ready as he had 8 RBIs. Ryan Robb had 3 hits as did Drew Wiss, Rob Dau (as well as 5 RBIs), and Colby Brown. For the Lobos Hayden Schilling went 4 for 5 and Connor Mang had 3 hits. The wind must have blowing out. Wait a minute, it always blows out in Colorado Springs.