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MWC Baseball Preview for April 1st

Sorry, no jokes or pranks. I'm a San Jose State fan and haven't been in a very humorous mood for the last few years. BUT, the MLB season is soon to start so it's time to perk up. The MWC had a great mid-week celebration with some great victories over ranked teams. That means teams will be coming in feeling pretty good about themselves. We'll see what transpires.

Griffin Jax will be the pitcher to watch this weekend
Griffin Jax will be the pitcher to watch this weekend
Mike Kaplan

Mountain West Schedule for the Weekend of 4/1/2016

Fans of the Mountain West are probably wondering how the impressive OOC wins of this week will translate to conference series of this weekend. Sigh, same ol, same ol. Now, I wouldn't be that tough on the teams but knowing your opponent as conference members do means a lot. A struggling UNLV team visits a pretty hot New Mexico. Their pitching better be ready as they will be facing the likes of Chris DeVito (7 home runs), Jack Zoellner (5), and Carl Stajduhar (7). That's a hard trio. San Jose State heads south to wine country to play a very good Mustang club. The Spartans are still searching for pitching but Ozzy Braff (4 home runs) is getting some good ABs. Air Force at Fresno State is probably the most interesting match up as both are in the hunt for the regular season title. But, you know what that's worth. SDSU will visit Nevada with the biggest question being, will the weather cooperate?

UNLV (3-6) at New Mexico (7-2)

Two teams that took part in the mid-week revelry face each other this weekend. I'd like to see these games just to see which Rebel team shows up. We all know which one of the New Mexico teams shows up; the hitting one. The Lobos are starting to boast some pretty fair starting pitching and if that holds true, the rest of the MWC doesn't stand much of a chance. Then again, the regular season championship means nothing. UNLV is last in most statistical categories in the Mountain West and that must improve if they expect to get anywhere the rest of the season. One bright spot in the lineup is freshman Kyle Isbel (.326 and 1)who is hitting a ton. Keep an eye on this one. Leading hitter is Payton Squier at .375. The poor pitching actually has decent starting pitching with D.J. Myers (2-0 and 3.28) and Kenny Oakley (2-3 and 3.63) but relief has been a problem. New Mexico has all the hitting (.316 as a team) and the power (25 home runs). They have six .300 hitters with that have significant ABs. Chris DeVito leads the hitters at .404 and 7 home runs. Geez! They also have Carl Stajduhar with 7 home runs and Jack Zoellner with 5. How'd you like to pitch to those guys? Nor would I. AND, they're home. Starting pitching is starting to look good also. Colton Thomson (3-1 and 2.93), Carson Schneider (4-1 and 3.80) are the most reliable but they have three or four other arms they can put out there also. Remember, the pitching doesn't have to be perfect when you can score runs as they do.

San Jose State (8-15) at Cal Poly SLO (16-7)

Cal Poly is having a good year and have beaten a few good teams (UCLA a case in point). However, they need to show a bit more and I suspect they will be expecting to use SJS as the whipping boy. They are hitting an ok .273 with three .300 hitters led by Brett Barbier's .395 and 2. They have some pop with the home run leader being Alex McKenna (.270 and 4). Pitching is better at 3.89 and they have two good starters. Erich Uelmen (4-0 and 2.76) and Kyle Smith (3-1 and 2.86) lead the staff. The Sunday starter could be anyone. Closer is by committee as two arms share the duty. Justin Calomeni (2-2 and 2.38 with 3 saves) and Justin Bruihl (0-1 and 3.86 with two saves) are the committee. Calomeni has 22 strikeouts in 11 IP and that leads the team. The Spartans, on the other hand, are hitting about the same as the Mustangs but the pitching doesn't even come close. The one starter lately has been Josh Nashed who may be coming into his own. He is 0-4 and 5.66, which sounds horrible, but has had two decent starts the last few times out so he'll get a shot this weekend. Matt Brown (1-3 and 4.35) is the statistical leader but he lacks consistency; one good outing followed by a bad one. The pen has been weak so the starters need to go deeper into games if the Spartans are to make any noise in San Luis Obispo.

Air Force (4-1) at Fresno State (6-3)

Air Force can also hit. Can you believe .343? Let me say that again. . . . . .343! They have seven .300 hitters two of which are over .400. They one power hitter is Tyler Jones at .343 and 7. Pitching is decent. Starters are led by Griffin Jax (5-1 and 0.88) and Trent Monaghan (3-0 and 4.66). The Sunday guy could either be Nick Biancalana or Jacob DeVries. The Falcons have certainly peaked this year. But, guess what? They get to face the league's best pitching in Fresno State at the Dawgs' home park. Fresno State's website calls this series a showdown and I couldn't agree more. A classic case of hitting against pitching. The mutts should be coming off a pretty good high after taking out Long Beach State. The Dawgs can hit a bit and Brody Russell is the best at .390 and 3 followed closely by Jesse Medrano (.351) and freshman Zach Ashford (.340 ). Pitching is the team's forte, however. Starters are Jimmy Lambert (5-0 and 1.49), Ricky Tyler Thomas (3-2 and 2.29 with 46 strikeouts in 39 IP), and freshman Edgar Gonzalez (1-0 and 2.84). Anthony Arias (2-2 and 5.20) can also start if he's needed. Closer Tim Borst (1-1 and 0.95 with 6 saves) is also good. This is the series to watch. I haven't checked to see if any of these games will be streamed. I may watch if they are.

San Diego State (2-5) at Nevada (4-4)

Nevada has won four in a row and hopes to extend that streak at home as they host the Aztecs in three conference games. The Wolf Pack appears to have righted their ship and could end up at or above .500 overall if they take this series. Both hitting and pitching are decent but not outstanding. They lack the power of last year's team but they have four .300 hitters with TJ Friedl leading the bunch at .398 and 1. Christian Stolo (1-4 and 3.82) is the old pro of the starters and you'll probably see him Friday followed by Zach Wilkins (3-2 and 5.72) and Trenton Brooks (2-3 and 5.88). Trevor Charpie (1-1 3.65) has also done well as a starter. SDSU has really struggled this season but they do have that win over Oregon State so the potential is certainly there. They have two .300 hitters led by Alan Trejo at .361 and 1. A few good hitters from last season have not really stepped up this year which has hurt the offense. Pitching is sub-par at 5.56 but they have two decent starters in Harrison Pyatt (0-1 and 3.18) and Brett Seeburger (0-0 and 4.67). The third starter is likely to be Marcus Reyes (0-3 and 7.83 and a team leading 31 strike outs in 33 IP). I wonder what the weather will be? It's still winter here in Colorado.