WAC Baseball Weekend Preview May 2nd – 4th 2008

WAC LogoSamuel Wasson is the Co-Founder and Editor of BleedCrimson.net and covers New Mexico State University athletics. He comes to the CBB as our expert on the WAC.

SERIES OF THE WEEK: SACRAMENTO STATE AT HAWAI’I (Les Murakami Stadium)

Why It’s Important: Hawai`i and Sacramento State are separated by just a half a game in the WAC standings, with UH three games behind Fresno State for first place and Sacramento State 3.5 games back.

SACRAMENTO STATE HORNETS (19-24, 10-9)

Sacramento State is coming off a four-game sweep at the hands of sixth-place New Mexico State and must try to regain some momentum on the toughest road trip in the conference, Hawai’i. Sacramento State swept the four game series earlier this season in Sacramento between the two teams, winning 4-2, 6-4, 5-2 and 10-6 and after dropping four two NMSU would likely be thrilled to get out of Honolulu with a spit. While both the Hornets and the Warriors sill hold out hope for a conference title, Sacramento State has by far the toughest road to the title of the two teams. After their head to head battle with Hawai’i on the islands this weekend, they follow that up with a trip to Reno to face second place Nevada and wrap up the regular season by hosting first place Fresno State.

HAWAI’I WARRIORS (21-24, 13-11)

Hawai’i has just two conference series left hosting Sacramento State this weekend and traveling to New Mexico State next weekend. The Warriors split last weekend’s conference series at Louisiana Tech. The Warriors appeared to be in good shape to win the series as they held a 9-3 lead going into the bottom of the ninth in game four of the series. Louisiana Tech, a team with its back to the wall, rallied for seven runs in the inning, capped off by a three run walk-off home run to send the Warriors packing and back to the islands with a disappointing series split. Hawai’i will have revenge on their minds when the Hornets come to town this weekend. The Warriors were swept by the Hornets but hold a definitely home-field advantage.

Prediction: Sacramento State bounces back and takes 3 of 4 in this weekend’s series.

AROUND THE LEAGUE

NEW MEXICO STATE AT FRESNO STATE (Pete Beiden Field)

FRESNO STATE BULLDOGS (26-21, 14-6)
Fresno State stepped out of conference for a mid-week game versus San Francisco on Wednesday night. The Bulldogs lost 7-6 and now turns their attention to sixth place New Mexico State. The Bulldogs swept the Aggies just two weekends ago in Las Cruces, N.M. After surviving a 13-10 battle with the Aggies in the series opener, the Bulldogs won with relative ease in the remaining three games of the series, 9-5, 13-1 and 24-6. The Bulldogs come into the weekend having lost three of four games at Nevada, losing the final three games of the series. The Bulldogs had won 11 conference games in a row and were the league’s hottest team. The Bulldogs have arguably the conference’s best four-man starting rotation, highlighted by Top 10 MLB prospect Tanner Scheppers. Fresno State’s schedule sets up nicely for them to claim the conference title as they do not leave the state of California for the remainder of the regular season. The Dogs host 6th place New Mexico State this weekend, 5th place San Jose State next weekend and fourth place Sacramento State the following weekend.

NEW MEXICO STATE AGGIES (22-25, 9-11)
The Aggies are coming off a big four game sweep of Sacramento State and will be looking to sustain their newly found momentum. Prior to the four game sweep of the Hornets, the Aggies had won just two of their previous 12 conference games, including falling in four straight to Fresno State at home just the weekend before. One bright spot for the Aggies is the fact that they were in Fresno earlier in the season and defeated Fresno State in a rare non-conference matchup during the Pepsi Johnny Quik Tournament. This is a crucial series for the Aggies as they currently sit in sixth place in the conference standings, five games ahead of conference tournament host Louisiana Tech. Only the top six teams gain entrance to the conference tournament.

Prediction: New Mexico State continues to build on their momentum and comes away with a surprising split on the road.

NEVADA AT LOUISIANA TECH (JC Love Field)

NEVADA WOLF PACK (25-18, 12-8)
The Wolf Pack is riding high into this weekend’s series against last place Louisiana Tech after having won three of four games from conference leading Fresno State. The Pack vaulted themselves into second place after the series win as then second place Sacramento State was swept by New Mexico State and Hawai’i split with this week’s opponent Louisiana Tech. Nevada swept the conference honors this week after third baseman Jason Rodriguez and pitcher Kyle Howe were named WAC Hitter and Pitcher of the week respectively.

LOUISIANA TECH BULLDOGS (19-24, 4-18)

The Bulldogs have salvaged their hopes, at least temporarily, for participating in this year’s WAC Baseball Championship tournament which the Bulldogs are hosting. Louisiana Tech currently sits in last place in the league at 4-18 but split their series with Hawai’i this past weekend on the strength of a seven run ninth inning to steal the final game of the series away from the Warriors, 10-9. The Bulldogs, like Hawai’i, have only two conference series remaining. They host second place Nevada this week. The Bulldogs were picked to finish second in the league, however, things have not gone as planned. The Bulldogs will need to win at least three of four games against Nevada to keep their hopes of participating in the conference tournament alive.

Prediction: Louisiana Tech runs out of magic and sees their hopes for a conference tournament appearance go by the wayside. Nevada wins three of four to eliminate Louisiana Tech from conference tournament contention.

SAN JOSE STATE (OUT OF CONFERENCE ACTION THIS WEEK)
SAN JOSE STATE SPARTANS (25-18, 12-11)

San Jose State is out of conference for the second consecutive weekend. The Spartans have a two game home-and-home set with #3 Stanford. San Jose State was won eight of it’s last ten games and leads the WAC in ERA at 4.99. The Spartans have two remaining conference series. Next weekend they’ll travel to Fresno State to take on the first place Bulldogs and then wrap up the season hosting second place Nevada.

Prediction: The Spartans shock Stanford at home and lose to Stanford on the road.