The Falcon will play a three game series against the Aztecs of San Diego State this weekend at Falcon Field with their fate for the season in their own hands.
Here’s the current MW standings:
When all the remaining games are considered, the Falcons can win the regular season championship by winning at least 5 of their 6 remaining games, even if one of the losses comes to SDSU this weekend. There are plenty of other scenarios which could lead to a regular season championship, but they almost certainly need to take 2 of the 3 games this weekend to make it possible.
Two wins in the last six games, with at least one of those wins against UNLV, will ensure a spot in the conference tournament for the Falcons. Again, there are other scenarios for that to happen, but require losses from the other teams.
The Path to the Winner’s Circle
The key throughout the season for the Falcons has been to get a solid 6 or seven innings from the starter, that gets them to the later innings without having to dig too deep into their bullpen. The offense has generally done it’s job, averaging just over 7 runs per game and currently second in the Mountain West to New Mexico in batting average, runs, and slugging percentage.
Statistically, the Falcons have the worst overall pitching in the Mountain West with an ERA of 7.28, but when the starters are solid, they can hand the ball to Sawyer Hawks, Ben Weber, and Duke Benge to finish out the game. The four starters (Sansing, Gehring, Rogers, and Shim) and those three relievers have combined for an ERA of 5.92. Certainly, much of the problem is pitching half your games in the launching pad of Falcon Field. Just ask Jay Thomason about his 523 foot homer at home this year to get an idea about how that happens.
In the series against the Aztecs, the major hurdle is to generate enough offense against staff ace TJ Fondtain. He is far and away the leading candidate for MW Pitcher of the Year, and a possible All American as well. Three weeks ago he had a no-hitter against Nevada with 14 strikeouts. He also leads the Aztecs in homers with eight.
Chris Canada is a solid number 2 starter, with an ERA of 5.60 and 64 strikeout in 54.2 innings. The number 3 position has been filled by a carousel of pitchers that rarely pitch many innings. The Aztecs instead rely on a deep relieving staff that includes likely future MLB draftee Eldridge Armstrong and MW saves leader Kalena Sauer.
Next weekend, the Falcons travel to UNLV to close out the regular season.