MWC Heads Into Weekend with Good Vibes
So, here's my excuse. I wrote nothing at all because I was in an area with family and friends that had no wifi or cell phone coverage. I was a nervous wreck. Next month I'm taking off to South America for my other obsession; natural history. I had to take a cut in pay to do this but it's worth it. So what happened while I was gone? Fresno State takes down Irvine in three straight victories. They then lose to Cal Poly and there is no shame in that and it was close. Nevada wins three straight against a team they should have and then beat Texas Tech in one that was a surprise. Well done! San Diego State takes apart Valpo in three straight and then, on the strength of that, beats a very tough Loyola Marymount. New Mexico keeps pace in taking three of four in a tournament with the highlight being taking two straight from Oregon State. The Beavers have lost a lot this year but, still. UNLV did well over the extended weekend also. They take two of three from an excellent Nebraska team but lose the mid-week game against Grand Canyon. Some of you may not have heard of Grand Canyon, a member of the WAC, but, believe me, they are pretty good and expected to challenge Sac State in the WAC. So, no shame; they ain't NAIA. San Jose State got beat up a bit down south against Loyola Marymount but the Lions are many people's pick to be the number one team in the WCC. The Spartans then won their home opener against a USF Dons team that looks like they may struggle this season. The Spartans are oh so young but looking a bit improved. Air Force lost three against a fair Citadel team and then the mid-week game to Savannah State. Not a fun weekend for the Falcons. So, what's up next? Hmm?
New Mexico (3-1) at Air Force (0-4)
Wow! Conference games this early. New Mexico can hit and Air Force is struggling again this year. Here's the weird part; it's a home series for the Falcons to be played at New Mexico. Why? Snow is forecast for the weekend in Colorado, that's why. The Lobos are hitting .269 which ain't their style but the pitching is picking up the slack at 3.75 which is good. If they start hitting, as most expect, and pitching remains good, the Lobos could be the pride of the MWC. One of the frosh recruits,Carl Stajduhar, is hitting well at .364. He was probably the prize recruit for the Lobos and was one of the best players to come out of Colorado. See how smart coaches are? Air Force is having troubles at bat as well as on the mound. You know that spells trouble. It will be difficult to right this boat against New Mexico - on the road.
Northern Colorado (0-0) at San Jose State (1-3)
The Bears open their season in San Jose for four games. Good thing these aren't in Colorado as 5-15" of snow are predicted for the weekend. It's good to be back. The Bears are in a hell of a slump since joining the WAC last year and the season this year looks to be more of the same. Stats don't mean much at this time of year but the Spartans are showing some life in some areas. Three starting pitchers have looked pretty solid and the one game I attended saw the emergence of a freshman from Hawaii; Turtle Kuhaulua. Say it slowly. You can do it. Not as bad as some of the defensive linemen from Samoa. Anyway, I'm probably wrong, but I think this kid could be something special for the Spartans. I'll keep you posted. He has relieved, and done well, and can hit from his position at second. The team is not hitting much right now but they do have two .300 hitters which is good as they are both new to the team. As I said, they are improved.
Pacific (0-4) at UNLV (2-2)
A lot like last year as the Rebels take on Pacific. The Rebels seem to have good pitching (2.57). Three of the starters have ERAs under 2.00 one of which hasn't started a game yet (Bonnell). Hitting is lagging at .260 but the pitching is solid. Payton Squier is leading the hitters with 6 hits and .545. In the Nebraska series the Rebels pitching staff was involved in low scoring games with a shutout (the win) thrown in. Pacific had a rough four games against Washington and at home. The games weren't really that close. The Tigers should show better against the Rebels. At least, that's what I think. The Tigers were supposed to be a better team this year with a veteran squad. Um, where were they?
Fresno State (3-1) at Nevada (4-0)
This should be the series to watch in the MW. Fresno State is coming off a sweep of Irvine and a near miss with a very strong Cal Poly. The ‘Dawgs are doing it just the opposite of the way most figured it would be. They're hitting a ton (.343) but the pitching has a little smoothing of the wrinkles to do (5.00). So what! They took three from a very good team. Three veterans are leading the hitting; Brody Russell (.471), Taylor Ward (well, duh), and Ryan Dobson (.375). Starting pitching is ok but the two guys that are being counted on need to do better the next time around. Like now, maybe? Nevada is considered a team that could win it all in the Mountain West and a 4-0 start gives credence to that thought. The big victory for the Wolf Pack was beating Texas Tech (8-4) on the road. How are they doing it? They have eight (8!) home runs in four games; that's how. Austin Byler has three and Ryan Howell is hitting .533 with 2 singers. Pitching is also pitching in (ugh!) at 3.00. Remember, three of those wins came against Abilene Christian which ain't exactly TCU. This will be a true test for the Pack and the mutts as well. Go watch.
San Diego State (4-0) and UC Riverside (4-0)
The Aztecs are the other undefeated team in the Mountain West. They did it against Valparaiso which ain't the biggest of deals but the fourth victory was. The Aztecs beat Loyola Marymount 7-6 at home using a 6 spot in the bottom of the bottom of the sixth as the killer. The team is hitting a ton at .336 with five players over .300 and two over .500. If you score lots, you win. Any pitching you get is a bonus. The Aztecs are 4.75 in that area and I'm thinking coach ain't too cool with that. More bull pen work. Riverside took four against the Pilots over the weekend so they're feeling good. They did it with two well pitched games and two where they simply outscored the Pilots. That's weird as the Pilots haven't been able to hit much in the past two years. I still think Riverside is a good team waiting to happen as they have Troy Percival guiding them. I put a lot of weight in that. This could be a good series, too. Another four games worth watching.