Mountain West Opens Baseball Season

USA TODAY Sports

The Mountain West starts the 2014 season with a full slate of games. The featured games will be New Mexico at San Diego and Fresno State at UC Irvine. San Diego State and San Jose State start the MWC as they play each other in San Jose.

First Games of the 2014 Baseball Season

Well, here we are at long last. The coaches have done pretty much all that they can to prepare their players for real games. Enough of the intrasquad games. They can only show so much. Now we get to see what the team is made of even if it is very early and things will take some time to settle out. All the teams will be playing. Air Force, Nevada, and New Mexico I consider cold weather teams so they open on the road in sunnier climes.

Air Force will be playing teams they can beat and one that will be a challenge. Nevada should do well in Santa Clara but they are road games. UNLV has home field advantage against a snow belt team. Fresno State will have its hands more than full with the Anteaters. New Mexico will be playing the marquis series with San Diego on the road. That is the one to watch. In an oddity of scheduling San Diego State and San Jose State open the MWC season and the regular season in this series in San Jose.

Air Force at Texas State Baseball Invitational
Washington, Michigan, and Texas State
I'm thinking how tough it's going to be on both Michigan and Air Force. Can you imagine practicing in those areas in January? Geez. I played baseball at Cabrillo CC in Aptos, CA and when it rained, we worked the pitchers indoors. I always hated that as I was a catcher. I also just got back from south Texas and it was cold down there so it may not be a sunny warm opening to the 2014 season. None-the-less, they have to be played. Washington comes from a strong baseball conference but hasn't done much lately. They lost most of their starting pitchers and the hitting was adequate but had no pop. The Falcons have a good chance in this one. The Wolverines did poorly last year and return little. Advantage, Falcons. The Texas State Bobcats were a .500 team last year but the pitching staff returns intact and it was pretty good last year. They should do well in their own tournament and this will be the sternest test for the Falcons.

Nevada at Santa Clara Tournament
Santa Clara and Boston College
Nevada comes to my neck of the woods to play the Broncos and the Eagles. Santa Clara has been anything but a baseball power the last few seasons and last year's woes could be attributed to injuries. They come back healthy but how good they will be remains to be seen. Both pitching and hitting were subpar. Nevada has some good recruits that may see some action in this tournament. The Pack has a good chance against these guys. Boston College was pretty poor last season so I expect little from them. Nevada could sweep.

Central Michigan at UNLV
Here's where I drop a big mia culpa on you folks who read my stuff. For whatever reason I didn't write a critique of the Rebels' 2014 schedule. I'm truly sorry. We'll start here. The Chippewas (great name) had a sub .500 year at 25-32. They hit poorly (.251) and the pitching was ok (4.15). Top returning arm Jordan Foley (6-6 and 3.08) will open against the Rebels. They return all the pitchers other than the number one starter so pitching will be their strength. The offense returns both of the top two hitters in Cody Leichman (.341) and Nick Regneir (.321) from an anemic offense. Those two could prove tough for the Rebels pitching but the rest of the lineup didn't do much more than average at best. The Rebels at home against a snow belt team; The Chippewas are in deep against one of the best teams in the Mountain West and my choice to take the title.

Fresno State at UC Irvine
A lot of people figure the Bulldogs to be much improved this year. Could be. Last year's numbers sure don't suggest that but new blood and a new mind set can always change that. However, trying to prove that last year was so wrong against Irvine will be a good test for the mutts. The Anteaters are always good; they can hit (.285) and they can pitch (3.50). This is a tough series for the Bulldogs but, if they can pull off a series win on the road, the Mountain West best pay attention. If you're in the OC area this weekend, go to these games. I never watched that tv series so why am I trying to sound cool?

New Mexico at San Diego
This is a great match up. The MWC champs against one of the west's best teams. The Lobos lost a lot but they bring back enough to make some fans think they can do it again. Hmm, maybe. I talked to coach and he feels pretty good about things. I really didn't expect him (or any other coach) to tell me otherwise but he did talk to me. The Lobos will be good and will compete for the regular season MWC title along with UNLV and SDSU. San Diego is a NCAA Tournament-tested team and is always in the hunt for the WCC title. This season will be no different. The strength of the Toreros will be pitching but they have a few guys who can hit also so they are pretty strong on all fronts. This is one of the best weekend series in the western half of the US and would be a good one to watch. I wonder what the weather will be like? Go to a game.

San Diego State at San Jose State
San Jose State is trying to change whatever happened to the program the last two years. From a league champ a few years ago to the dregs. New coach and a new way of looking at things. Coach Nakama enters his second full year with a recruiting class that he had time to choose. He brings in a lot of new arms to a staff that struggled the whole season. Most of them are gone so it will be a new look staff except for Johnny Melero who could start the Friday game. San Diego State should compete for the regular season MWC title. That's a tough way to start the season and the conference for the Spartans. If the weather holds this should be an entertaining series that will show fans what the Spartans have and if the Aztecs have enough to compete for the title. The edge is to the Aztecs with all that experience and talent. Give the Spartans another year or so. The Friday game will be cold so dress warmly.

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