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New Leader in MWC Baseball

UNLV gets stunned by last place Air Force and relinquishes Mountain West lead to New Mexico which took care of business in San Jose.

Freshman catcher Neubeck delivers big hits for Falcons
Freshman catcher Neubeck delivers big hits for Falcons
Sarah Chambers

Big Shakeup in MWC Baseball Standings

The worm turns. The meek shall inherit the earth. The last shall become first. Now hold on just a minute here, bub. I bought the first two but the last is too much of a stretch. I was out of town this past weekend to answer why I didn't do a preview. Well, I wrote one but couldn't log on so I had to wait until I returned to write a recap only. And what a recap we have. New Mexico is solidly in first place and Air Force made that happen. The Falcons smacked UNLV big time in sweeping the Rebels and bumped them out of the lead. All I can say is "Wow!" Nevada is continuing its winning ways and is tied for second which is a big surprise to me but nothing can top the Falcons' sweep.

UNLV (13-8) at Air Force (5-13)
I might as well start with the biggest stunner of the MWC season. UNLV had this outstanding pitching going into the series with Air Force. Piece of cake, right? The Falcons have the worst hitting by far. So what happens? The boys in blue decide to grab the correct end of the bat and hit a ton in the series and swept the Rebels in one huge upset. Erick Fedde (7-2) got knocked around in game one as Cameron White (3-6) pitched well in his start to win 10-9. Catcher Travis Neubeck was the star in this one as he went 2 for 4 with a home run and 4 RBIs. Not bad for a freshman catcher. A 7 run first inning was all that it took to make winners of the Falcons and starter Griffin Jax (3-6), who's another freshman, by the way. He walked no one which gave the starters no walks in two games. See how important that is? This game wasn't close as the Falcons win 14-4 and pounded John Richy (6-3). Game three was close (7-6) but a 4 run bottom of the seventh decided the issue. Travis Neubeck had a great series and hit his second home run to help the winners. I tip all of my caps to the Falcons. The win moved them out of the cellar for the first time in God knows how long and dropped the Rebels to 2.5 games behind the Lobos and out of the top 25 list.

Fresno State (8-13) at Nevada (13-8)
The Bulldogs took the first game 20-10 and it looked to me that the mutts might be starting to take this game a bit more seriously. Nope. They lost the next two close ones 9-8 and continue to sink in the MWC. Nevada, on the other hand is rising as they've won the last 8 of 10 to move them into a tie for second in the Mountain West. The second game took 12 innings to decide as the Pack scored a single run as catcher Jordan Devencenzi knocked in the winner with a single. The mutts had scored 5 runs in the top of the first that, I'm sure, made all the fans feel that more of the same that they saw in game one was going to happen again. Things settled down a bit until the final run. Outfielder Brad Gerig was the big bat in the third game won by the Pack 9-8. He went 4 for 5 with a home run and 3 RBIs. The seasons for these two teams are in opposition if you understand the astronomical reference. No matter, they're heading in opposite directions. That makes sense, right?

New Mexico (14-4) at San Jose State (6-15)
The Spartans hadn't been swept in a 3 game series all season until they ran into the buzz saw called the Lobos. No contest. I'm glad I missed this one. No game was very close as they lose 14-2, 5-2, and 11-6. This was not an easy watch for the home town folks and I've been hearing a lot of muttering as of late. Again, it was the pitching. Again, the Lobos are doing everything quite well and the home stretch is at hand and they are solidly in the lead. Chase Harris hit his sixth home run and went 4 for 5 with 6 (!) RBIs as the Lobos won 14-2. The score was 10-0 by the third inning which has been typical of the Spartans as they seem to get trounced in the first game of a series followed by a close one. Colton Thomson (5-4) was in complete control to get the victory. The Lobos had their hitting shoes on as they had 21 hits. Three players had 4 hits apiece. Geez. Game two was close as the Lobos prevailed 5-2 as two runs in the top of the eighth closed it out. I need to be a homer here. Spartans' starter Jonathan Hernandez is 0-5 but has pitched well. The pitching has not been good this year and I'm hoping aging a little on the rack will bring out the full-bodied flavors of a staff tested by fire. There will be changes. The third game was essentially done by the second inning with New Mexico leading 10-3. The final score was 11-6 and the Lobos were in cruise control I suspect. Now San Jose State takes on number 2 Cal Poly in a midweek game so things are not getting any easier for my boys. Oh, ain't it great that two mid majors are number 2 and 3 in the latest poll?

San Diego State (28-12) at UC Irvine (25-14)
This was a pretty good series between two pretty good teams. The Anteaters are 8-1 and second in the Big West which ain't exactly chopped liver. The Aztecs took two of three from the Anteaters which was rated #21 coming into the first game. Taking two of three on the road versus a rated team does wonders for the ol' RPI. The Anteaters have one of the best starting pitchers in college baseball in Andrew Morales and he's pretty amazing. He's 7-0 and 0.61 and has 80 strikeouts in 74 IP. That's good. The two other main starters are pretty good too so, again, great series victory. The Aztecs took game one 3-1 with only 5 hits as they bunched them all together in the top of the eighth to score the three runs. They had been held to three hits by Morales for 7 innings when the pen was called upon and then they struck. Bubba Derby pitched well but had no support as the ‘Eaters won game two 3-0 as the Aztecs were again held to 5 hits. The rubber match went to the Aztecs 4-3 as they struck for four runs in the late innings. As I said a good series.