The 2008 WAC tournament gets under way on Thursday, May 22nd in Ruston, LA at J.C. Love Field. The stadium has a 3,500 seat capacity. J.C. Love Field’s dimensions are (left-to-right) 315-370-385-340-325. The outfield wall has been raised to 12 feet from the left-field corner around to right center where it will remain at eight feet from right-center to the right-field line.
The weather forecast calls for temperatures in the mid to high eighties with a 30% to 40% chance of rain and scattered thunderstorms over the tournament weekend.
The first round matchups will see 1-seed Fresno State take on 6-seed Sacramento State, 2-seed Hawai’i take on 5-seed New Mexico State and 3-seed Nevada take on 4-seed San Jose State. The games are scheduled for 11:00 a.m., 3:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. All times are CDT.
GAME ONE – 11:00 A.M. CDT
#1 Fresno State vs. #6 Sacramento State
Records: Fresno State (33-27, 21-11), Sacramento State (23-32, 14-17)
These two teams know each other well as they’re coming off of a four game series to end the regular season. The teams split the four games in Sacramento with the Hornets winning the first two games 9-8 and 4-0 and Fresno State winning the final two games 6-4 and 13-6.
Fresno State will be without ace and WAC Pitcher of the Year Tanner Scheppers. It was announced last weekend that Scheppers suffered a fractured bone in his shoulder and would be sidelined for the remainder of the 2008 season.
Fresno State has won the last two conference tournaments and has not dropped a game in the tournament since 1998, a 3-2 loss to Rice as the WAC did not hold a conference tournament from 2000 to 2005.
Fresno State is scheduled to send Justin Wilson to the mound while Sacramento State will counter with Trevor York. Wilson is 5-4 with a 4.43 ERA in 12 starts. Wilson has appeared in 21 games and pitched 83.1 innings. York is 4-5 with a 5.06 ERA in 13 starts. He has pitched 80 innings for the Hornets in 13 appearances.
Prediction: Fresno State over Sacramento State
GAME TWO – 3:00 P.M. CDT
#2 Hawai’i vs. #5 New Mexico State
Records: Hawai’i (27-29, 18-14), New Mexico State (28-31, 15-17)
Hawai’i and New Mexico State will meet for the second time in two weeks as the two face off in the first round of the tournament. The two teams last met in Las Cruces, N.M. two weeks ago with the two teams splitting the four game set as New Mexico State won the first two games of the series 7-5 and 13-8 while Hawai’i won the final two games 17-10 and 15-14. Hawai’i also took three of four games in their prior meeting in Honolulu taking games one and two 4-2 and 8-3 while New Mexico State took game three 9-3 and Hawai’i won the fourth game 5-1. The Aggies and Warriors are both 10-6 over their final 16 conference games.
Hawai’i, like Fresno State, will be without their ace Jared Alexander. Alexander experienced some pain in his pitching elbow and while the MRI’s came back negative head coach Mike Trapasso has gone on record saying that Alexander will not pitch until he is pain free. The Warriors’ bullpen will also be without the services of pitchers Alex Capaul (elbow) and Alex Bates (elbow and jaw).
The probable starters for the game are Nicholas Rhodes for Hawai’i while New Mexico State has not released a probable starter. Rhodes is 4-5 with a 5.13 ERA in 74 innings pitched.
Prediction: New Mexico State over Hawai’i
GAME THREE – 7:00 P.M. CDT
#3 Nevada vs. #4 San Jose State
Records: Nevada (31-24, 18-14), San Jose State (31-23, 17-14)
Familiarity breeds contempt and no doubt Nevada has plenty of contempt for San Jose State. The Spartans ruined the Wolf Pack’s hopes for a regular season title with a four game sweep in San Jose over the weekend. The Spartans won game one 7-4, game two 2-0, game three 2-0 and game four 8-7. The sweep dropped the Wolf Pack from the 2-seed to the 3-seed and set up this first round matchup.
Both teams will be highly motivated to win this opening round game as the loser could potentially face 1-seed Fresno State in the second round.
The probable starters for tomorrow’s game are Rod Scurry or Kyle Howe for Nevada while San Jose State has not listed a probable starter. Scurry is 5-7 with a 5.33 ERA in 74.1 innings while Howe is 8-2 with a 3.55 ERA in 78.2 innings and has pitched five complete games.
Prediction: Nevada over San Jose State