Usually I start right off by reviewing the games. But this time I'd like to comment on a few things before I do my usual. It was an ugly day for the WAC in Tuesday's games. There were a few serious road kills and no team really distinguished themselves. Well, so what? There weren't any teams trying to score points with pollsters, but there were coaches trying to save their pitching staffs for the upcoming weekend series' — which ARE important. For the WAC coaches, the four game series' they play within the conference have meant trying to find a third and sometimes a fourth starting pitcher among their kids. This has meant that midweek games against OOC foes have to take a back seat to conference games. A coach simply can't waste a three or four starter for six innings against a USF, or an Arizona State, for that matter. The other matter for the WAC is that it shows the lack of depth for all of the teams (SJSU included) and the youth for most of the pitching staffs. Depth means the guys on the bench are probably just as good, if not better, than the players on the other team. I think that may have happened to Hawaii against Arizona State. I haven't even looked at the box score yet so we'll see.
Arizona State 17 – Hawaii 2
This is one of the games I was talking about. Hawaii is the class of the WAC according to many, and they are getting a lot of national recognition primarily due to their RPI. They play a tough OOC schedule and this game proved it. ASU is rated No. 2 in the nation in one poll, and as low as No. 4 in another. It is a very good program indeed and they tore apart a better than decent Rainbow team by scoring seven runs in each of the seventh and eighth innings. High points for Hawaii were few but there were some. Starting pitcher Connor Little pitched three innings and gave the Sun Devils nuttin'. Hawaii actually led 1-0 until the bottom of the fifth, and it remained close until the roof fell in. Relievers Josh Slaats, Lenny Linsky, and Alex Myers gave up the final 14 runs in very ineffective relief. I don't know what happened here but four home runs had something to do with it. The only Hawaii hitting was provided by Kolten Wong (2 for 4), Greg Garcia (2 for 5), and Ryan Morford (2 for 3). Sun Devils starting pitcher, Swagerty, went seven strong innings in getting the win. Six strikeouts, no walks, and only one earned run. In a wipeout like this, I don't know what a coach learns about his players. 2800 fans were in attendance.
University of the Pacific 10 – Nevada 7
A six-run third inning by Pacific put the Tigers up early, but they fell behind 7-6 by the end of five. Two runs in both the sixth and seventh inning were too much for the Wolfpack to overcome in another OOC loss for the WAC. Again, I don't know what to say. Pacific is at 16-19 overall, which is not that good, but remember they play in the excellent Big West Conference — which has the No. 1-rated UC Irvine team as one of its members. UOP currently is in third place in this competitive league so they are much better than their record indicates. There was plenty of hitting in this game and not much pitching, with Nevada's Jacob Anderson's two innings of finish-up work being the only highlight (no runs). With a total of 27 hits it seems like everyone had a hit for both teams. Close, but the ‘Pack's Matt Bowman went 0 for 5 in a starting role. 82 degrees in Reno, with 563 fans in attendance.
Louisiana Tech 11/16 – Texas Wesleyan 9/7
The Bulldogs they showed they can still hit In this doubleheader sweep. No surprise there as they humbled a very good NAIA team, which shows the difference in level of play for two of the divisions in college baseball. I'd like to see some of my players play at the NAIA level but they can't afford paying for school so it's doubtful they'll ever play after high school. That's a pity but that's life. The first game featured seven home runs with Devon Dageford (15) and Chris Kersten (14) leading the way for the ‘Dogs. Kersten also went 4-for-4 in an excellent offensive display of hitting. Freshman Mike Roliard got the win in relief. The second game was over by the end of the first inning. La Tech scored nine runs in the bottom of the first to go up 9-1 and that was essentially it in this rout. Dageford hit No. 16 and freshman Mark Threlkeld went 4-for-4 with a home run to lead the way. Freshman leftie Jamelle Clements started and went three innings for the win. All this in 77 degree weather with 732 fans.
San Francisco 10 – SJSU 0
Yes, folks, that's a zero that was posted by the boys in blue in this game. Spartan starter Eric LeBaron went 3-2/3 innings and was stuck with the loss but deserved a better fate. On closer inspection, maybe not with six walks and one strikeout. Command, or as we old-timers call it — control, seemed to be his main problem. He hasn't seen a lot of action this year so I'm sure pitch count was a factor in his early removal. Ryan Vander Tuig absorbed most of the offensive onslaught by the Dons as he gave up eight runs in his two innings of work. The only good thing that was notable was Anthony Vega's two innings of good work for the Spartans —no runs given up.
San Jose State 14 – Fresno Pacific 12
It was basically batting practice, but I'm sure the pitchers didn't look at it that way. Jack Adams started for the Spartans and went two innings and left with a good line — no runs. Then came a string of pitchers, most of which haven't seen much time this year, and all could have done better. Nine innings and seven pitchers and 12 runs surrendered. Not too encouraging. Hitting? Well, 22 hits and that's all I'm going to say about that, except that Fresno Pacific's starter, Jacob Burns, gave up 17 of them. Whew! The pitching was not there for Fresno Pacific. They were just working out the kinks. Again I'll say that if an NAIA team has a stud pitcher, he can shut down a D1 team, but this was certainly not the case. It appears to me that the Sunbirds can hit since they got only one less than the boys in blue, including three homeruns. I suspect we're pretty much thinking the same thing: It certainly would be nice to win most of the OOC midweek games, showing that the Spartans' pitching staff is deeper than just the three or four starters. Depth is an issue with smaller programs such as San Jose State's. Look at the WAC in general; it's the same throughout. Anyway, they won.
Who will pitch this weekend against Fresno State? I'd guess David Berner, Max Peterson, Ryan Shopshire, and Jack Adams. Finding that fourth starter is going to be a problem.
Don Starks is the Baseball Editor of Inside Sparta. You may contact Don with any questions, comments, or tips at email@example.com
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