WAC baseball recap for April 16-17

The biggest series of the WAC season up to this point is now underway in Reno, Nevada as the New Mexico State Aggies battle the Nevada Wolfpack. San Jose State is in Santa Barbara as they continue their road stretch. It's the WAC baseball recap for games of April 16 and 17.

Thursday's only game

Nevada 11 - New Mexico State 5

There was a little of everything in this game played in Reno. There were five home runs, for those who like the long ball. Tyler Graham pitched the final two frames to get the save and give starter Brock Stassi (5-3) the win. The Aggies starter, Tyler Sturdevant (4-3), didn't fare as well in getting the loss. He went five and two thirds innings and was hit pretty hard in giving up ten hits as well as issuing five walks. That's an average of three runners per inning and it's pretty hard to survive that which he didn't; eight earned runs.

The hitting star was Shaun Kort who went 2 for 3 with three RBIs along with a homerun. The Aggies' Bryan Marquez pitched in with his league leading 17th homerun. The Aggies pitching hasn't been doing too well lately even though there was a shutout in Fresno if memory serves. I guess they are only average at best. As I've said before, Nevada is hitting now and their pitching is fairly decent so they are to be watched.

Friday's games

New Mexico State 9 - Nevada 6

The Aggies of NMSU evened the series at a game apiece. I haven't checked team stats lately but the starter and winner, Daniel Simon, could well be the ace of the staff, and possibly the league, as he improves to 8-0. He doesn't appear to be a power pitcher because the strikeouts aren't there in extraordinary numbers, but he's winning none-the-less. The game was decided by the fifth inning with the Aggies leading 9-3. In the bottom of the ninth the Wolfpack scored three runs to make the final a little more respectable.
800 fans.

Fresno State at Louisiana Tech - postponed rain.

Hawai'i 5 – Sacramento State 4

In a tight game, Hawai'i prevailed in Honolulu before 3700 fans. I remember years ago, when the San Francisco Giants were really bad, they would get less than 3000 to watch a game. I can see it in the SEC and the Big12 but out here where people don't seem to care about anything? Hawai'i always does well in attendance.

Ok, now back to business. The big story in this one is freshman Kolten Wong's three-run homer in the third inning to up Hawaii's lead to 5-1. Those would be the final runs they would score. It was another story of the Hornets scoring, but not quite enough. And, most of the runs they scored came late. A two-run home run in the ninth by the Hornets' Brent Hottman made it close. Hawai'i's starter and winner — Jayson Kramer (3-3) pitched a very effective eight innings with seven strikeouts and only two walks while giving up two earned-runs. Almost Berner-like, if you get my drift. Sac State's starter and loser — Chris Baek (3-4) had a bad day's work and pitched only two innings — six hits, no strikeouts, and three walks for five earned runs. The relievers, led by Santa Cruz freshman Alex Taku (four innings), gave Hawaii nothing after that but it was too late. Taku has done fairly well in his last two outings and I think the coach may feel he has found something that has been sitting there all along. Hawaii wins this one, yes, but I think the Hornets deserve a little respect by playing this one close. They received decent pitching and hitting from their players in a tough venue.

UC Santa Barbara 7 - San Jose State 6 in 11 innings

I know it's a loss and it's hard to find good things in a loss but there were some to be found. David Berner continues to impress. He must be the best pitcher in the league (hmm, sounds like an article to me). He went eight strong innings even though he gave up two earned runs. The Gauchos did it with only four hits off the leftie as he struck out seven and walked only one. That stat alone is so cool. I suppose I could check this out but he must be leading the conference in strikeout-to-walks ratio.

Coach Sam will leave any pitcher in a little longer as long as he continues to throw strikes; especially if the opposition isn't hitting. The Gaucho's starter, Joe Gardener, is on Baseball America's college prospect report, which is basically a list, for pitchers. Going into this game he was 5-0 with an excellent 3.14 ERA. The Spartans didn't exactly rough him up but they did touch him for a few earned runs during his six innings of work. The Spartans uncharacteristically committed three errors, which allowed three unearned runs to score.

The winning run was the result of a hit batsman, a walk, and then a single to end it. And, guess what, the Spartans finally out-hit the opposition to the tune of 13 to 6. I don't care to look back to see how many times that has happened but out-hitting your opponent and losing doesn't happen that often. Five Spartans got two hits - Jacob Bruns went 1 for 3. As of April 16 he is leading the league in hitting with a .426 average. The Spartans distinguished themselves in this game against tough opposition and a tough pitcher. It was a tough loss before 276 fans.

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Don Starks is the Baseball Editor of Inside Sparta. You may contact Don with any questions, comments, or tips at don@insidesparta.com

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