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The Good Teams Start to Separate from the Pack in the Mountain West

Fresno State and New Mexico won their MWC series to move a bit more ahead in the standings. Nevada swept UNLV to keep them in the game. Other than that, the best stories are in mid-week games which I'll cover elsewhere.

Tyler Jones is showing more than a little power this year.
Tyler Jones is showing more than a little power this year.
Mike Kaplan

Recap of Week Four in Mountain West Bseball

A little separation is starting to take place as New Mexico and Fresno State put some distance between themselves and the rest of the pack. Air Force was a non factor in MWC games as they played an OOC series. Nevada made a bit of noise as they swept UNLV in an in-state rivalry series.

New Mexico (7-2) at San Diego State (2-5)

The Lobos move into first place all by themselves after taking two of three from a weak Aztec team. They won game one 5-3 thanks in large part to two-way player Luis Gonzalez (2-0). He went 7 2/3 IP and kept his composure to get the win and also went 1 for 4 with 2 RBIs. Yeah, truly a case of helping his own cause. They get even more good pitching in game two which they won by 4-2. Carson Schneider (4-1) goes the distance for the win. Need I say more? Jared Holley went 1 for 4 with 2 RBIs.

Aztec Dean Nevarez hit a home run in a losing cause. San Diego State kept it from being a sweep by winning game three 11-6. Chris DeVito hit his sixth home run for the Lobos as he went 3 for 4 with 3 RBIs. He's still hitting a ton. The Aztecs' Tyler Adkison went 3 for 3 with 3 RBIs and Andrew Brown went 2 for 4 with 2 RBIs and a home run. Not a lot of notable pitching in this game.

Fresno State (6-2) at San Jose State (3-8)

The Bulldogs are alone in second place due to their pretty good showing on the road in San Jose. They take two of three from the last place Spartans and only the 10 inning loss in the Saturday getaway game kept them out of a tie with New Mexico. Ok, let me talk about the Spartans. They are a mystery to me. They get plenty of hitting and outhit the Dawgs in games two and three of the series but still only split those games. Oh, of course, the problem is pitching. The Spartans got a good start from a resurgent Josh Nashed as he gave up only two runs but didn't receive the win. He's improving and that's the good thing. However, the other two games illustrated the importance of pitching as the Fresno State starters pretty much held the Spartans in check. I think the pitching will work the Bulldogs' way in future games but only time will tell if the Spartans can get more than one good start a week from this staff. Yes, one good start a week. Game one was an easy one for the mutts as they win 13-4 as all the Spartans runs came in the ninth inning. Brody Russell came to play in this one as he was 5 for 6 with 3 runs and 5 RBIs. Freshman phenom Zach Ashford was 2 for 2 and Jake Stone was 3 for 4. Ricky Tyler Thomas (3-2) cruised through 7 inning with 7 strike outs for the win. Jimmy Lambert (5-0) also cruised through his 8.1 innings in the second game which was put away in the late innings 9-4. Brody Russell went 3 for 5 with 3 RBIs, 2 runs, and a home run. Jesse Medrano went 3 for 5 with 4 RBIs. The Spartans got lots of hits but couldn't score lots of runs. They were paced by Josh Nashed's 2 for 4 and 2 RBIs. The Spartans got a small amount of revenge in taking the last game 3-2 in 10 innings. Josh Nashed went the first 6 and pitched effectively but was always in trouble giving up 7 hits BUT only 1 walk and I think that was the difference. Make the opponent (I'm talking to any pitcher here) hit the damn ball; no free passes. That's what Nashed did and kept the Spartans in the game. The Dawgs could have easily swept this series but they just couldn't get the big hit with runners in scoring position. Oh, again I would like to say that Nashed should stop throwing over to first with runners in scoring position. His throwing error cost him a run. If those are called from the bench, I disagree. If he's doing it on his own, stop. Even with this emotional win the Spartans drop into last place but have yet to play two other struggling programs. Fresno State looks pretty strong and they seem to have enough hitting to win games when the pitching might not be there.

Air Force (12-5) at UC Davis (6-12)

A struggling Aggies team took the first game of this series 6-2 behind the strong pitching of Robert Garcia (1-1). Uh, yeah, he was pretty much the story as the Falcons got only 4 hits in his 7 IP. Job well done. The Falcons won game two 9-8 but had to hold off a late charge by the Aggies as they scored five runs in the last two innings. The Aggies had two runners on and the tying run at third when the game was finally ended. Whew. Tyler Jones was the story in this game as he had another multiple home run game. He was 2 for 4 with 4 RBIs and 2 home runs. He's becoming a force and he's always been good. Adam Groesbeck and Spencer Draws both had three hits to add to the offense. Trent Monaghan (3-0) went 7 good innings and the pen took over and brought a can of nitro to the mound. I'll leave it at that. Pitching finally showed up in game three won by Air Force 5-2. Griffin Jax pitched a complete game and struck out a career-high 12 batters. Hell of a game as he gave up only two hits. He is now 5-1 with a 0.88 ERA in 41 IP with 41 strike outs. AND, only 9 walks. Now that's impressive.

Nevada (4-4) at UNLV (3-6)

Nevada throws their hat in the ring with a sweep of the Rebels on the road. They win all games by a total of six runs which is disappointing to the losers whoever they may be. The Wolf Pack was down 5-0 going into the seventh inning and scored seven runs in the last three to win 7-5. A lot of timely hits, mostly, as no one hitter really stood out. Payton Squier went 3 for 4 for the losing side. The Pack won another nail-biter, 6-5, in 11 innings. A lot of action in this one. The Rebels were down big time, 5-1, going into the bottom of the ninth but tied it up. Nevada then scores in the 11th to go ahead 6-5. But, it's not over. The Rebels had runners on first and third with one out so things looked better than promising. A.J. VanMeetren hit into a double play to end the game.

I think he'll be remembering that for a while. Amazingly, Anthony Martine throws one pitch to get the save (his first). Easy, speezy (or however it's said). I'm old, remember? The final game made it a sweep for the Wolf Pack as they win with some late inning runs 7-4. An oddity in this game is that the Rebels had 10 hits spread out among 10 players. Weird. Again, the Pack trailed 3-1 going into the seventh inning and scored 6 runs in the 7th and 8th innings to put this one away. Ty Pennington and Evan McMahan shut down the Rebels for the last two innings to maintain the lead.

Now, pay attention as I'm only going to say this once. I usually don't write up mid-week games but the MWC showed their stuff and deserves a few words. Stay tuned.