In any level of baseball, to find the winners follow the pitching staff.
The Falcons had two good pitching performances in Game 1 and 2, and came away winners. In the final game, that aspect of the game was absent, and the results were disappointing to say the least.
However, when evaluating the series, the results are positive. The Falcons have settled into a three man rotation of Paul Skenes, Doyle Gehring, and Dylan Rogers. Skenes is a staff ace that any college team would have in their primary rotation. Gehring and Rogers are solid choices for the rotation, but are certainly not as consistent or as dominant as Skenes, so a three game sweep can be a challenge.
Relief pitching is a bit more of a challenge. The most effective relief pitchers have been Zach Argo and Rob Martin. That’s where the offense comes in. If the offense can generate consistent pressure early, that solves a lot of problems with the relief staff. The starting pitcher can go longer, middle innings can be worked by other staff members with Argo or Martin coming in to close it out.
That formula worked well starting with the series against Texas through the series against UNLV when the Falcons won 7 of 10 and scored 15 runs per game. Since that time the bats have cooled down, and the pitching has been a bit of an adventure outside of Skenes.
One hitter who has not cooled down is Sam Kulasingam. He has elevated his batting average to .414, good enough for sixth in all of NCAA D1 baseball. He’s also number 2 in base hits, and number 4 in doubles. The announcer for Air Force’s live stream mentioned that Kulasingam has the opportunity to play summer ball in New England, which means he’ll be getting some attention from MLB scouts.
The Falcons will now face New Mexico in their last conference series. A sweep of the series would guarantee the Falcons third place in the conference. If the Falcons do not sweep the series, they would need Fresno State to lose at least as many games in their series with Nevada to advance to the conference championship games.
If the Falcons advance to the championship, I would feel pretty good about their chances, as they would feature the best pitcher in the tournament playing in a pitchers ballpark (Tony Gwynn Stadium in San Diego).