Weekend WAC baseball recap

How is the WAC shaping up half-way into the Conference season? Inside Sparta takes a look around the games of the weekend.

Friday's Games:

Nevada 7 - CSU Bakersfield 6

CSU Bakersfield probably figured they had this one going into the bottom of the ninth leading 6 - 4 after scoring two in the top of the ninth to break a 4 - 4 tie. However, Nevada-s Shaun Kort singled in two and late inning replacement Aaron Henry singled him home for the winner. Tyler Graham (2-2) picked up his second victory of the year in relief but gave up two runs in his 2.2 innings of work. Offensive highlight (man, that doesn't sound right) has to be Bakersfield's Jeremy Rodriguez going 4-for 4-in a losing cause. Nevada improves to 19-20
558 fans were present.

Sacramento State 8 - Louisiana Tech 7

The highlight of this game had to be a catch that rightfielder Justin Mezzaneras made over the fence, which robbed Devon Dageford's bid for a home run in the top of the ninth and ended the game. Dageford already had hit one (17) earlier and he continues to impress, but not this time. Both teams scored runs in each of the first three innings. They showed why both teams can hit but are not really known for their pitching. At the end of three Sac State was leading 6-4. Cooler heads prevailed as the pitching found their collective grooves and slowed things down a bit until the final heroics by Mezzaneras. 87 fans it says. I wonder how many were really there? Was it empty seats disguised as fans or is it the other way around? Anyway, there weren't many there. Too bad, the Hornets actually have 22 wins and 17 losses, which ain't bad.

Hawai'i 12 - New Mexico State 10

In a battle between two of the better teams in the WAC, Hawaii won in a slugfest. If you've been following my reports, then you know that big scores with a lot of crooked numbers appear to be the norm in this conference. That is enjoyable for many fans to watch, but I like scores like 5-2 or some such. You know, mostly good pitching with just enough hitting to make it interesting to anyone who likes baseball. This game wasn't it. All but one pitcher (Aggies' Coffman) were touched for at least one run. All starting position players except two had hits, if I read the box correctly. What a mess. Hawaii continues to win and the Aggies are winning but fall one and half games behind Hawaii in the standings.
526 fans in Las Cruces saw this one on a balmy night of 80 degrees.

Fresno State 1 - San Jose State 0

On a chilly night at Municipal Stadium (the old girl looked great, by the way) the Spartans Dave Berner pitched a masterpiece and it wasn't enough. The Bulldogs Matt Morse matched him pitch for pitch for a complete game shutout and his first win (1-2) of the season. How can that be? Where has he been hiding? Berner was also throwing a shutout when he was removed in the top of the ninth after getting the first batter on a weak groundball back to the mound for the first out of the inning. One out, no one on base, and the pitcher is looking strong. What gives? Why take out a guy pitching an ace like he was? Coach went out to talk to him and the next thing I know, he's out of the game. Apparently he was feeling the effects of a mild case of the flu. If that's true, he should catch a cold every time he pitches. He was outstanding. All that and he has nothing to show for it but a pat on the back and a lower ERA. In my estimation, he is pitching himself into the WACs Pitcher of the Year, if such an award exists.

Anthony Vega comes in to relieve and everyone hopes he reverts to earlier form when he was pitching so well in relief. Left fielder Dusty Robinson greeted his first pitch by hitting it just fair into the left field corner to set up all kinds of strategic moves. The next hitter, Alan Ahmady, flied out to the Jacob Bruns in right. Should they have walked him to set up the double play with Mendonca coming up?

Now, what would you do here? The Mutt's best hitter, Tommy Mendonca, is a left-handed hitter and is up to bat with two outs. However, Mendonca has been handled all night in striking out twice and singling weakly to first base for his only hit. That's the situation. I guessed right. Did you? He is intentionally walked to face right-hand hitting Jake Johnson, who had gone 0-3 on the night. Well, he makes a loser of Vega (0-4) by singling in the winning run. The bottom of the ninth was rather routine, and sent a good portion of the 741 fans home cold and disappointed. The boys in blue are playing teams they must beat if they want to remain in contention. They've played Hawaii and can't get those games back. Nevada and NMSU are also ahead in the standings.

Saturday's Games:

Nevada 9 - Cal State Bakersfield 4

Shaun Kort led the way for the Wolf Pack with two hits and three RBIs in this non-conference game. Nevada scored two in the bottom of the first and never trailed. Bakersfield scored two in the top of the ninth to make it a bit more respectable. Starter Chris Garcia got the win (3-4) by pitching 7.1 innings. Now, it's back to the WAC next weekend for the Wolf Pack.

New Mexico State 16/7 - Hawaii 6/8

The first game was a rout for the home team Aggies as they won 16-6. They scored two in the bottom of the second and never trailed. Only Hawai'i's Kevin MacDonald's seventh inning grand slam made this a game. Hawai'i's Kolten Wong continues his hitting by going 2-for-4. Amazingly, NMSU hit seven home runs. Well, maybe not amazing since it is NMSU and the game was at Las Cruces, where they hit plenty of those things because of the altitude. Hawai'i's Matt Sisto started and was tagged with the loss (4-4) but his reliever, Harrison Kuroda, took one for the team. He pitched 2.2 innings and gave up nine earned runs before the game was called due to the ten-run rule.

The second game was a strange one, and won by Hawaii, 8-7, to get the split. The Aggies scored all of their runs in one inning without benefit of a home run. That was after getting seven homers in the first game. Talk about a reversal of fortune. Hawaii's MacDonald led the way, going 2-for-6 with three RBIs so he had seven on the day. Not bad. Nate Klein started for Hawaii and went six innings without giving up a run. The next two relievers got shelled in the seven run eighth. Jared Alexander finished up and got the win (2-1) in this ten-inning game. This doubleheader was between two of the best teams in the WAC and was watched by only 437 fans.

Sacramento State 8 - Louisiana Tech 6

Sac State scored three runs in the third and four in the fourth to go up seven nothing but had to hold on to win at home, 8 to 6. The Hornets started freshman Jesse Darrah (my vote for freshman pitcher of the year) who was the winner (8-2) but got whacked around a bit in giving up six earned runs in eight innings. He only walked one which is a good thing since he gave up nine hits and just what he needed was more runners. There were five home runs in this game with Devon Dageford getting his 18th. La Tech's freshman starter, Jeb Stefan, gave up eight earned runs and was tagged with the loss (3-5). 239 fans for this game, which is better than usual for Sac State, as they continue to get a little better.

Sunday's Games:

Nevada 13 - CSU Bakersfield 6

This game featured scoring by the Wolf Pack in most innings and leading most of the way. Nevada now has an overall winning record after being under .500 for most of the season. The key to this win must be the fact that leadoff hitter Matt Bowman was 4-for-5 with two runs and two RBIs. That means he was always on base or driving someone in from the very top of the lineup. That really sets it up for the big boppers in the 3-4-5 spots in the lineup. Besides Bowman freshman Nick Melino went 3-for-4 and many other hits were spread around pretty much equally through the rest of the players. Nevada's starting pitcher, Derek Achelpohl (4-3) went six good innings for the win. His reliever gave up five runs in a third of an inning, but others were brought in and the game was kept under control. Keep moving, nothing to see here as 904 fans can attest.

Louisiana Tech 7 - Sacramento State 4

I could say this was a game featuring the battle of the bottom feeders but I won't since no team in the WAC is out of it at this point. La Tech wins one in this series and now is 1-2, with the finale today in Sacramento. The southern dogs won this one mostly on the strength of Dylan Moseley's right arm as he pitched into the eighth inning to get the win. Freshman Mike Jefferson gets his first save by going the final one and two-thirds innings. Moseley was easy to solve by giving up twelve hits but he gave up no walks. I'm guessing he was good out of the stretch, as it appears he pitched with runners on the whole time he was on the mound. A stat that supports this was Sac State leaving 13 runners on base. Loser Tommy Elrod (4-3) went four and 1/3 innings and gave up all seven runs for the loss. Hits and RBIs were evenly distributed throughout the Tech lineup as they hit only one home run. Tim Wheeler of the Hornets adds to his numbers by getting his 15th home run. Josh Powers and Hunter Martinez both went 3-for-5 for the Hornets in their losing effort.
238 fans in attendance on a beautiful day in California's Capitol.

New Mexico State 20 - Hawaii 9

This has to be the game of the day for all but Spartan fans. Two teams at the top of the WAC battling it out to see which teams leave the weekend in first place and a football game breaks out. 29 total runs, 31 hits, six doubles, two triples, and four home runs. Hits anyone? Pitching no one? That's right, no pitching as only the last pitcher for either team left unscathed. This series showed that the Aggies can hit against any team as they scored double digits in three of the four games and continue to lead the nation in ugly games.

These two teams split the series 2-2 so nothing was really settled other than the Aggies CAN score. This game was shortened due to the 10 run rule (the second time in this series). It was 10 to 1 after two innings and Hawaii knew it was in for a bumpy ride (yeah, yeah, the old Bette Davis line). Hitting highlights were many. NMSU's Bryan Marquez (4-4-4-4 - I'm wondering if you can figure that one out; should be easy for baseball fanatics), Ben Harty (2-5, 5 RBIs, and 2 homeruns), and Wade Reynoso (3-for-5 with five RBIs).

Hawai'i's hitters also pitched in as they did score nine runs in this shortened game. Kolten Wong continues his hitting streak by going 3 for 4 and Landon Hernandez was 2 for 3 with 4 RBIs. There were too many hits to list. Oh, the above line for Bryan Marquez means four AB, four runs, four hits, and four RBIs in standard scorekeeping parlance. I could find no attendance figures but I'm guessing somewhere under a thousand. Can you imagine what the attendance would have been for the four games if they had been played in Honolulu?

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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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