The WAC starts its second half of the season this weekend with all teams still in the hunt and all teams trying to improve on their record. The Spartans are, literally, in the middle of all this and are hoping to improve their record by winning on the road, which is tough for anyone. They take on the last place Hornets of Sacramento State, which has an overall winning record. Elsewhere, Nevada travels to Fresno State to take on the Bulldogs as the two doggies figure to tear into one another. This is a battle of a last place, and near first place team, and we will see what they are both made of in this interesting series. Louisiana Tech travels to Hawaii and takes on the first place team. The last series is the bye series as New Mexico State takes on Houston Baptist at home. Details follow.
San Jose State at Sacramento State
The Spartans are on a bit of win streak as they have beaten both Saint Mary's and Santa Clara of the WCC in come-from-behind fashion, as well as downing Fresno State in the last two games of that series. The Spartans may have found help on the mound in the form of Tyler Heil and Jack Adams and I'm sure one of these right-handers will start Sunday's game. One of the Hornet pitchers to watch will be Jesse Darah who is a freshman. If he continues his strong showing he could get votes for freshman Pitcher-of-the-Year. He and the Spartans' Max Peterson will be paired against one another on Saturday. The Hornets are coming off a split of their series with Louisiana Tech and have lost three in a row going into the games with the Spartans. Common foes have been Hawai'i, where they lost three of four games. This series bothers me as they do have hitting, led by Tim Wheeler, but their pitching is a lot like La Tech's — not so good. Spartans need to come up big here. I expect them to win the series 3-1.
Houston Baptist at New Mexico State
New Mexico State plays their bye week adversaries as the 9-31 Huskies are playing the Aggies in Las Cruces. The only teams of note that Houston Baptist has played are Oklahoma (lost two games), and La Tech (lost two of three). If this was Dallas Baptist it would be a different story, but I think the Aggies take all four games and get close to winning 40 games for the year. How can I put this, oh yeah, expect lots of home runs.
Louisiana Tech at Hawaii
In their most recent series Hawai'i split with NMSU at Las Cruces but gave up many runs in doing so. In fact their two losses were shortened because of the 10-run rule and they lost both of those easily. Both of their wins were not considered pitchers duels by any stretch of the imagination. I think that says more about the Aggies' hitting than it does about the Rainbows' pitching. The Aggies have been doing that to everyone all year. Louisiana Tech is an enigma. They come to San Jose and lose all four games and then go home to play Fresno and win all four. Will the real southern dogs please stand up. Hawai'i is very tough at home, but I think the ‘Dogs will play tough in splitting the series 2-2.
Nevada at Fresno State
Nevada comes off a bye week where they swept Cal State Bakersfield and split with NMSU the previous weekend. Fresno State is at a crossroads in that they have lost four of the last six games against WAC opponents. The two wins were last weekend against San Jose State and they could have easily swept that series, or at least gone 3-1. This weekend should tell the WAC a lot more of what the Bulldogs are all about. Nevada is looking pretty good and is in a good position to move well out in front in the standings if they do well against the Bulldogs as I feel they will. Nevada has had a pretty tough schedule (such as UC Irvine) which makes their overall record of 22-20 look weak, but they are battle-tested and proven. I think they will take this series 3-1, move to the top of the WAC, and push Fresno State solidly to the bottom.
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Don Starks is the Baseball Editor of Inside Sparta. You may contact Don with any questions, comments, or tips at firstname.lastname@example.org
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