Conference Play Starts this Weekend
UNLV (3-5, 0-0) at SJSU (3-4, 0-0)
So here we go already. A conference series between two teams I think are trying to discover themselves. Early on the Rebels have found they can hit (.332) and their pitching has been ok (4.75). They played a tough schedule over the weekend and Tuesday as they lost two of three to Fullerton and got rung up by Riverside in the one game Tuesday. Fullerton was the best test and they passed the first exam winning 6-1 but got pretty much skunked in the other two. Their losing record could be deceptive just because of who they played, if you ask me so the Spartans better watch out. The Rebels are sporting three .400 hitters in Bryson Stott (.472 and 0), Justin Jones (.419 and 3), and Nick Ames (.414 and 1). They have four .300 hitters that follow them on the stat sheet so they will get their hacks in. I’m guessing the rotation will be Alan Strong (2-0 and 1.74 with 17 strikeouts in 10 IP), Garrett Poole (1-1 and 2.25), and Larry Quaney (0-0 and 1.38) but Tevita Gerber (0-2 and 7.98) has two starts already and might get the nod in one of the games. Overall, I’d say they’re ready to play.
The Spartans, on the other hand, aren’t hitting a lick (.188). They have one .300 hitter in Kellen Strahm (.346) and that is it. The rest are struggling mightily. Kellen is a freshman from Oregon and I’m guessing he likes the weather. Anyway, he doesn’t seem to be intimidated by D1 pitching. Keep an eye on this kid as he could be the real deal. The smile you see on Spartans’ fans is due to the improved pitching (3.56) which is close to 3 runs better than the last few years. I suspect the starters this weekend will be Josh Nashed (0-0 and 1.64), Matt Brown (1-1 and 4.35), and Graham Gomez (0-0 and 0.00). These three appear to be able to keep the opposition at bay until the boys in blue learn to hit. Will the weather cooperate? That’s another good question.
Cal Poly (2-6) at SDSU (5-4)
The Mustangs have shown themselves to be a bit of an enigma. They lost three straight to Pacific but have also beaten Cal to open the season. Those three losses to Pacific are hard to explain, however. A team BA of .235 and an ERA of 6.00 goes a long way in terms of explanation if you ask me. They have three .300 hitters and then the severe drop off in production. Of the three in the rotation only Erich Uelmen (1-1 and 2.03) looks any good at this point. Maybe the Aztecs will catch them all bummed out. The Aztecs also played Pacific for three to open the season and took two of three in dominant fashion. They have also beaten Fullerton, Notre Dame, and Long Beach State for their five wins. Not bad. They’re hitting a robust .299 and the pitching is serviceable at 4.61. The three in the weekend rotation look to be Dominic Purpura (1-0 and 2.92), Jacob Erickson (0-1 and 3.12), and Brett Seeburger (1-0 and 3.60) and that’s pretty solid starting pitching. Will the Aztecs continue to open my eyes?
Nevada (2-6, 0-0) at Fresno State (4-4, 0-0)
Another weekend series that starts conference play for two teams. Nevada has opened the season poorly by losing three of four in Texas and losing three of four to Virginia Tech at home. One of those games was a final of 24-10 which was, really, a baseball game. Even with that gosh awful score, the stats aren’t that dreadful. The hitting is .262 and the pitching is 6.94 and that part is not surprising. They have three .300 hitters and the rest of the starters don’t look too bad. Starting pitching for the weekend is ok with Mark Nowaczewski (0-0 and 3.46), Trevor Charpie (0-2 and 4.38), and Grant Ford (1-1 and 6.00) being the big three. The pen got lit up against Va Tech so don’t look at those numbers right now. Fresno State has split four with Oregon, lost two of three to Riverside, and then taken a single game against Pacific to be 4-4. Nothing stands out in those games other than it’s good competition. The team is hitting a fair .271 with five .300 hitters and the pitching has been solid at 3.78 with Ricky Tyler Thomas (1-0 and 0.69) and Davis Moore (1-0 and 2.35) leading the weekend guys. Ricky Ramirez (1-1 and 5.14) could get the Sunday start but there are many arms on that squad capable of starting.
New Mexico (4-3, 0-0) at Air Force (4-3, 0-0)
People; be warned. You could sprain your neck watching the ball fly off both teams’ bats in this series. This is what typically happens at the Academy field with the wind and such and these two teams are hitting a ton. If the weather holds and it warms a bit more, this one is worth attending. It’s over a two hour drive for me so I don’t think so. The Lobos aren’t hitting as I expect they will even though current POW Luis Gonzalez is hitting a great .407. He has two other full time .300 hitters helping him out. Pitching is only ok at 5.05 with the weekend being held up by Carson Schneider (2-0 and 1.64), Luis Gonzalez (1-1 and 7.04), and Tyler Stevens (0-1 and 8.10). Jonathon Tripp might slip in as one of the starters. The bullpen better be ready. Air Force goes into this series feeling pretty good about taking two of thee from Navy. The team is hitting just .263 but I think they have the MWC’s leading hitter in Tyler Zabojnik (.480 and 2). They also have four guys with multiple home run totals so they have pop. Pitching is ok at 5.52 with the weekend starters probably being Matt Hargreaves (1-0 and 2.77), Evan Floyd (0-1 and 7.71), and Nick Biancalana (0-1 and 11.57). Those last two sets of stats don’t look very good but I don’t know what coach has up his sleeves for other starters. Not a lot of innings pitched do I see. Expect fireworks.