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MWC Entering Week Three in Conference Play

Air Force’s Tyler Zabojnik is hitting nearly .500
Bill Evans

Week Three of MWC Games

Ok, so, New Mexico has established they can score. What else is new? In this conference there are more than the Lobos that can hit. The conferences that are strong baseball conferences are usually strong in pitching and the Mountain West is not there. Let's wait a few more weeks and see what transpires. Pitching, folks, pitching. Oh, and I'm sorry about the lateness of this post.

Nevada (2-4) at San Jose State (2-4)

The Wolf Pack lost two of three at home to San Diego State and have also lost two of three to Fresno State while on the road. Both of these series tell me a little bit. Fresno State? They're good so that is no surprise they struggled on the road. The Aztecs seem to be a team on the rise but, even so, it's tough to lose a home series. The Wolf Pack have fair hitting (.268) with a few good hitters (so far) in Mike Echavia (.351 and 3) and Keaton Smith (.327 and 3). Pitching (6.02) is struggling with only Trevor Charpie (0-3 and 3.81) showing respectability on the mound despite his win-loss record. The Spartans have been doing a bit better with hitting (.244) but they do lack pop. Freshman Kellen Strahm (.351 and 0) still leads the team followed by a surprising Aaron Pleschner (.327 and 0). Justin Beck (.296 and 0) has come out of nowhere to be a respectable bat. If he keeps it up, he's got himself a full time job. This is a team that needs hitters especially hitters with pop. Pitching has improved this year and is still not horrible after getting a wake up call in Albuquerque this past weekend. The team ERA (5.18) and went up almost two runs a game last weekend. This series should prove beneficial to the staff. No starter has really emerged as a Friday kind of guy but Joe Balfour (0-0. And 1.12) has delivered as the closer and he is most welcome after an injured 2016 season. Two teams evenly matched.

Fresno State (2-1) at Air Force (0-6)

The lone MWC series that the Bulldogs have played was against Nevada. They are hitting a good .300 with six .300 hitters with Zach Ashford (.438 and 0) leading the way. The pitching has not been where I expected it to be (4.00) but Ricky Tyler Thomas is certainly the real deal (2-0 and 1.32 with 42 strikeouts and only 6 walks in 27 IP) and is having an AA year up to now. Davis Moore has also more than carried his weight (2-0 and 2.70) so they have two solid starters. Pitching is their strength. Air Force has had troubles getting their engine started. They lost three one-run games to UNLV over the weekend and I KNOW they didn't see that comin'. They're hitting a ton (.330) but so is the opposition (.340). They have five .300 hitters with Tyler Zabojnik (.458 and 5) and Drew Wiss (.449 and 0) being the top guns. Zabojnik, especially, is looking like POY material at this early juncture. Pitching has been poor (7.98) with Matt Hargreaves (1-1 and 5.24) being the most reliable of the starters. This could be an interesting series with all the hitters.

New Mexico (11-5) at Fullerton State (11-5)

The Lobos will be taking on what most consider their biggest challenge of the year. The Titans are one of the best in the west and are always in the running to make it to the CWS. They are currently ranked #10 or higher depending on the list you check. The Titans ain't hitting much (.247) but they have this drop dead gorgeous pitching (2.12). They don't have any power pitchers that I can see, they just get people out. The weekend starters will be hard to negotiate. The Lobos just got off a two game losing streak to Oklahoma State so they've been tested. Will they carry the Mountain West's banner? I for one feel they can do it with their hitting but the hitters will be challenged. A good series to watch.

UNLV (4-2) at San Diego State (2-1)

The Aztecs have to be considered one of the pleasant surprises of the 2017 as they are 11-6 and have just finished dismembering a good San Diego team in a one game match. They are hitting a respectable .298 with seven pretty much full-time .300 hitters. Pitching has done even better at 3.40. They have two legit weekend starters in Brett Seeburger (3-0 and 2.35) and Dominic Purpura (3-0 and 3.80). The rest of the starts are divided among three others with Jacob Erickson (2-1 and 1.72) being the best. That's one tough rotation. The Rebels are 4-2 in conference as they dropped two of three to SJS to open the conference season and then surprisingly swept Air Force in three one-run games. Yes, folks, the MWC is a hitters conference and the Rebels are no exception as they are hitting .317 with freshman Bryson Stott leading the way at .425 and 0. Have any of you noticed that there are at least two teams with frosh leading the hitters? Stott here and Strahm at San Jose State. The Rebels have five .300 hitters that makes for a murderers row with Nick Ames four home runs the most. Pitching is only ok at 4.85 but the weekend rotation is healthy. Larry Quaney (1-0 and 1.57), Garrett Poole (2-1 and 3.38), and Alan Strong (2-0 and 3.44) are those guys. They have others with starter experience but right now, these are the guys. The pen is suspect.

After reading this you should be under the assumption that the MWC can hit but the pitching is not quite there. That's how I feel. It's all about the pitching. Look at the Titans, above, and you'll see what I mean. The team with the best pitching at the end will probably end up on top. Which team is your guess? Mine is Fresno State and that's why they play the games.