Mountain West Play-in Game - Air Force and San Jose State
I'm guessing you're wondering where I've been the last few days. No? Oh. I've been thinking of all you stitch-heads (thanks to Eric Sorenson). We long suffering fans of mid major baseball. The four hundred or so that show up game after game. Bless all of you.
The play-in game is usually a game that few watch. Why? Two losing programs duking it out for the honor of playing a high seed. Lose and you go home. It's a rotten life.
San Jose State was my pick way back in December or January to finish last. I caught a lot of grief about that as a few of the players told me it wasn't going to happen. Makes me cry but I was right. Same with my choice for the top dog - UNLV. Both involved pitching. UNLV had what I thought was the best and San Jose lacked just too much pitching. The one pitcher who has emerged and is the best of the Spartan arms is Kalei Contrades (4-2 and 2.43). Coach Nakama took awhile to learn that the guy was his ace but he's delivered. He will start tomorrow and he's been very good as of late. He's done well against some of the best teams and I think he'll do well against Air Force as he beat them the last time he pitched. The only .300 hitter is freshman DH Brett Bautista (.315). Senior first baseman Matt Carroll (.260 and 5) is the only batter with real pop.
The Falcons started the year badly but have been at least ok the latter part. The freshmen have really come through for them. I thought they had a pretty decent recruiting class and they did, in deed, come through. Their starting pitcher will be Cameron White (4-7 and 3.92). He pitched in 98 innings and gave up 120 hits which is not good. However, he has walked only ten the whole year. That is close to astounding. Batters can't look for wild streaks with him. Freshman Tyler Jones (.344 and 4) is the leading hitter. It's going to be nice watching him develop the next three years. But, other than him, the hitting falls off dramatically and it has been an issue all year.
These two teams tied in the standings but Air Force won the season's series two game to one. The one game the Spartans won was with Contrades on the mound. I'm biased so I'll let you do the math. It's tournament time.
The first game begins at 11 a.m. PT can be seen right here on Mountain West Connection, as can every game of the tournament.