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Mountain West Baseball Is as Tight it Gets

The Mountain West baseball season was figured to be a battle between New Mexico and UNLV by most. By golly, that is where we are. The Rebels and the Lobos are tied at the top of the standings with only a few more games to go. The two teams don't play each other until the MWC Tournament but the regular season championship should be decided by then. San Diego State will have something to say about the standings as they will be playing UNLV next weekend. Both Nevada and Fresno State took serious hits by losing series to Air Force and San Jose State, respectively. Where this will all lead remains to be seen.

SDSU's Brad Haynal leads MWC in home runs with 11
SDSU's Brad Haynal leads MWC in home runs with 11
Kenny Olinger

Baseball Race Tightens Further in MWC

UNLV and New Mexico are right where everyone thought they would be; at the top of the standings. This one's going to the wire before being decided and then the tournament to decide which team gets the automatic. I believe both will get bids but the honor of being champion is always a motive for good effort in sports. The Rebels lost two games against an able opponent in Clemson as they flew to the east coast to play this late in the year. It's tough on the road and even tougher when that kind of travel is considered. New Mexico took two of three from San Diego State in an important Mountain West series. Wow, this is such a great race between New Mexico and UNLV. Air Force continues to show growth as they took two of three from Nevada at home. San Jose State salvaged a forgettable season as the Spartans wins its first series of the year against rival Fresno State to put the Bulldogs 5 1/2 games back with 6 to play.

UNLV (29-17) at Clemson (28-19) and James Madison (15-29)
The Rebels still have one more game (5/5) with Clemson left on their long weekend away from home. They split the two games they did play winning against James Madison 2-1 and losing against a good Clemson squad 6-2. The Clemson game was a great pitching duel between UNLV's Bryan Bonnell (5-4) and Daniel Gossett until the sixth inning. It was tied 1-1 going into the bottom of the inning when the Tigers scored 3 times to take a lead that was never caught. Not a lot of highlights for the Rebels as they had only seven hits. UNLV lost the last game against Clemson 5-2 even though the pitching gave up only four hits. Two unearned runs along with 6 walks by starter Kenny Oakley (3-5) probably didn't help the Rebels' cause. Not much offense in this game with ten total hits. The Rebels come back to the west and prepare for the final two weekends against MWC foes.

San Diego State (13-11) at New Mexico (16-8)
Well, yeah, the Aztecs did take the first game but the Lobos whacked the Aztecs in the next two but good. The Lobos won 6-1 and 13-5 to take the series at home. That puts the Lobos up at the lead along with UNLV and puts a hurt on the Aztecs hopes for the title. The 6-1 game featured the pitching of Colton Thomson (6-5) and the home run of Chase Harris. Catcher Alex Real also contributed by getting a bases loaded triple for the big hit of the game. In the 13-5 game Alex Real went 4 for 4 and John Pustay went 2 for 5 with 3 RBIs to pace the offense as the Lobos hit well this game (16 hits) and have been hitting well recently. The Aztecs' Brad Haynal hit his eleventh home run and is having a great year.

Nevada (14-10) at Air Force (7-17)
The Falcons are still in the cellar but they took two of three from the Wolf Pack of Nevada at Colorado Springs. The Falcons won game one 3-2 behind the excellent pitching of Cameron White (4-7) and the clutch hitting of Tyler Saleck (2 for 3 and 3 RBIs). The Falcons scored three in the bottom of the first and that was all it took. Nevada took game two 12-4 as the offense posted two 4-run innings in winning easily. Austin Byler was 4 for 6 with 3 RBIs and Trenton Brooks was 4 for 5. Byler had a great day as two of his hits were home runs (10). The Falcons took the rubber match 5-4 by scoring the winner in the bottom of the eighth on a wild pitch. Those are painful.

Fresno State (11-14) at San Jose State (8-17)
Yeah, the Spartans are out of contention but not out of fight. The final home series of the year boiled down to the final home game to see if the boys in blue would win a 3 game series in 2014. In an emotional game in front of a good crowd (for San Jose anyway) and master cheer leader Crazy George, the Spartans won a tight battle to take one series. That's something to grow on. I already talked about game one going San Jose's way as Kalei Contrades out dueled Tim Borst to take Friday's game 3-1. The Bulldogs let loose the hounds on Saturday and won easily 8-0 as Jordan Luplow displayed why he is considered one of the best players in the MWC. He was 4 for 5 with 3 RBIs, 2 runs, a home run (8), and 2 doubles (his 20th). That was more than some teams can put up on a good day. He's also hitting just under .400 so he's pretty complete. Jordan Brink (4-2) survived some early wildness to pretty much shut down the Spartans in an impressive victory. The scouts were out in good numbers and I think they were getting an eyeful of both Jordans. I expect both could be gone after the MLB draft. The Spartans won the final game 5-2 as they score five early runs and dodge many bullets and scares as the bullpen comes up aces with senior James Glawe (4-1) getting the victory. Senior catcher Kyle Gallegos went 3 for 4 to lead the offense.