WAC Weekend Preview – Week Three (Part I)

New Mexico State's Bryan Marquez
New Mexico State's Bryan Marquez

The WAC enters week three of conference play and through two weekends Nevada stands atop the league at 5-2 after winning two of three against Hawai’i who now stands at 4-3 in conference. Fresno State opened league play against New Mexico State and split the series 2-2 with the Aggies winning games one and three by one run while New Mexico State won games two and four by margins of two and four. San Jose State improved to 5-3 overall after sweeping Louisiana Tech. The Spartans are tied for second with New Mexico State. Louisiana Tech dropped to 1-7 in league play. Sacramento State played a non-conference series and returns to league play this week.

SERIES OF THE WEEK

New Mexico State (30-6, 5-3) at Nevada (16-17, 5-2)
Peccole Park, Reno, NV

The Wolf Pack host their second consecutive WAC home series after starting conference play on the road. In seven conference games Nevada has scored fewer than eight runs just once. They’re averaging 10.3 runs per game in conference play after averaging just 4.65 runs per game in non-conference play. The New Mexico State Aggies come into the series at 5-3 and after averaging 12.9 runs per game are averaging 8.25 runs per game. The Aggies’ Daniel Simon picked up WAC Pitcher of the Week honors for his part in a 2-0 shutout victory over Fresno State. It was Fresno State’s first shutout loss in the WAC at home since 2005.

The Aggies hold the pitching advantage with a 4.76 ERA while Nevada has a 7.86 ERA.

These two teams met four times last season with Nevada taking the series 3-1 in Reno.

The Aggies would appear to hold the pitching and hitting advantage in the seriesĀ  and with an article written this week in the Nevada Sagebrush, Nevada’s student paper, downplaying New Mexico State’s offensive numbers, the Aggies are sure to be a bit more fired up for this series.

Prediction: The Aggies are coming off an emotional series with defending league and national champion Fresno State in which all four games were decided in either the eighth or ninth inning with three of the four games being decided by two runs or less. Will they be able muster the energy as they hit the back half of a long road trip? Nevada comes in with a great deal of momentum after defeating arguably the league’s hottest team in Hawai’i and Nevada’s bats have come to life after struggling to a .258 batting average in non-conference play, they’re hitting .354. All seven of Nevada’s conference games have been slugfests while the Aggies have shown they can get it done in slugfests and in tight games. The Aggies are the one conference team that Nevada probably doesn’t want to get in a slugging contest with but in the end it will be New Mexico State’s pitching that will be the difference in this series. New Mexico State takes three of four from Nevada.

Game One: Thu, Apr 16, 6:00 p.m. PT
Game Two: Fri, Apr 17, 1:00 p.m. PT
Game Three: Sat, Apr 18, 1:00 p.m. PT
Game Four: Sun, Apr 19, 1:00 p.m. PT

Probable Starters:
G1 Nev – Brock Stassi (4-3, 4.66 ERA), NM State – Tyler Sturdevant (4-2, 4.62 ERA)
G2 Nev – Chris Garcia (2-3, 6.43 ERA), NM State – Daniel Simon (7-0, 2.93 ERA)
G3 Nev – Jayson McClaren (1-1, 4.91 ERA), Jared Jordan (4-1, 3.48 ERA)
G4 Nev – Derek Achelpohl (3-3, 3.47 ERA), Sebastien Vendette (5-1, 4.04 ERA)