WAC Weekend Preview (May 7th – May 10th)

NM State Pitcher D.J. Simon

NM State Pitcher D.J. Simon

Week six in the WAC sees four teams within a half game of each other and all seven WAC teams still with a mathematical shot at the regular season title. Louisiana Tech enters week six as the undisputed hottest team in the league after a stunning sweep over Hawai’i in Honolulu. After starting the league race at 1-7 the Bulldogs have won eight of their last 10 with sweeps over three time defending league champion Fresno State and conference tournament favorite Hawai’i (as the Tournament is being held in Honolulu). Much to the relief of the other six WAC teams, it’s Louisiana Tech’s turn to step out of conference this weekend as the remaining six battle to sort out the mess that is the 2009 WAC race.

SERIES OF THE WEEK
San Jose State (32-16, 8-6) at New Mexico State (38-10, 9-7)

Presley Askew Field, Las Cruces, N.M.

The Spartans enter this weekend after splitting two games in a weather shortened series against Sacramento State in Sacramento. The Spartans enter Las Cruces as the league’s best pitching team (4.44 ERA), a full run lower than second place Fresno State (5.47). The defense for San Jose State is outstanding as they’ve given up just 25 unearned runs this season and have committed just 44 errors (.976 fielding percentage). New Mexico State enters the weekend once again as the league’s top offense with a .360 batting average and are averaging a whopping 11.7 runs per game, a full four runs more than visiting San Jose State. The Aggies have improved defensively over last season and have committed just 59 errors after committing 138 last season.

Prediction:
Contrasting styles will meet this weekend as the Aggies are an offense powered by doubles (121) and home runs (104) while the Spartans also hit a lot of doubles (106) but have just 27 home runs this season. The Aggie offense will face the best staff they’ve seen to date when SJSU comes to town but you have to believe that the advantage still rests with New Mexico State. The Aggies’ offense has shown that they can crack any pitching staff given the time and this season the key has been the superb pitching by the Aggies that has kept the team in games while the offense deciphers the opponent’s arms. Last weekend the Spartan staff had a bit of a rough weekend giving up 20 runs in just two games and that has to worry head coach Sam Piraro just a bit as his team heads to the desert where runs can be scored at an alarming rate. Our prediction? The Aggies grab opportunity by the horns and sweep the visiting Spartans.

Game One: Fri., May 8th, 6:05 p.m. MT
Game Two/Three: Sat., May 9th 3:05 p.m. MT
Game Four: Sun., May 10th, 11:05 a.m. MT

Probable Starters
G1 SJSU – Max Peterson (6-1, 3.83 ERA), NM State – Daniel Simon (8-0, 3.52 ERA)
G2 SJSU – David Berner (6-1, 2.46 ERA), NM State – Sebastien Vendette (7-1, 5.38 ERA)
G3 SJSU – Ryan Shopshire (4-1, 3.81 ERA), NM State – Tyler Sturdevant (5-4, 6.19 ERA)
G4 SJSU – TBA, NM State – Jared Jordan (7-1, 3.53 ERA)

Hawai’i (27-20, 9-10) at Fresno State (22-25, 6-10)
Pete Beiden Field, Fresno, CA

Just two weeks ago the Warriors were a lock for the NCAA tournament, in fact there was talk of them being one of the seeded teams. Now the Warriors are just hoping to earn a Top three seed at the WAC tournament. After a stunning sweep at the hands of visiting Louisiana Tech, the Warriors now final weekend of conference play on the road. Fresno State is fighting to make the conference tournament as they sit at 6-10 in league play second to last place. However, the Bulldogs’ fortunes may have turned last weekend as they rebounded from a doubleheader pounding on Saturday to sweep a doubleheader on Sunday winning the first game in walk-off fashion and then dominating game two.

Prediction:
The Bulldogs are the three time defending WAC champions and defending national champions for a reason. When their backs are against the wall they know how to respond, however, Hawai’i won’t find be an easy out on the road against Fresno State but the Bulldogs take three of four from the Warriors.

Game One: Thu., May 7th, 6:05 p.m. PT
Game Two: Fri., May 8th, 6:05 p.m. PT
Game Three/Four: Sat., May 9th 2:05 p.m. PT

Probable Starters:
G1 UH – Jayson Kramer (4-4, 3.48 ERA), FSU – TBA
G2 UH – Matt Sisto (4-4, 4.48 ERA), FSU – TBA
G3 UH – Nate Klein (1-3, 4.91 ERA), FSU – TBA
G4 UH – Jared Alexander (2-1, 7.26 ERA), FSU – TBA

Sacramento State (24-21, 5-9) at Nevada (24-22, 9-6)
Peccole Park, Reno, NV

The Hornets probably feel as though they let a golden opportunity slip through their fingers and they’d be right. After leading San Jose State 7-1 after two innings and 9-3 after seven innings the Hornets saw their led dissipate as the Spartans scored seven runs in the final two innings to steal the victory. Nevada likewise must feel as thought they let opportunity slip through their fingers as they blistered Fresno State in the first two games and had game three well in hand before Fresno State rallied for a walk-off victory in game three. The Pack was then pounded 12-5 in the final game of the series.

Prediction:
Sacramento State is in a battle with Fresno State to make the WAC tournament and this is a very important weekend for them, a split in the series would likely assure the Hornets that they would not lose ground to Fresno State this weekend. Nevada is hoping to keep pace with the three other teams at the top of the heap. On paper Nevada is clearly the better club and we think they’ll prove that this weekend. The Pack takes three of four from the visiting Hornets.

Game One: Fri., May 8th, 6:00 p.m. PT
Game Two/Three: Sat., May 9th, 1:00 p.m. PT
Game Four: Sun., May 10th, 1:00 p.m. PT

Probable Starters:
G1 Sac. St. – Tommy Elrod (4-3, 6.00 ERA), NEV – Brock Stassi (5-3, 5.54 ERA)
G2 Sac. St. – TBA, NEV – Chris Garcia (4-4, 5.67 ERA)
G3 Sac. St. – Jesse Darrah (8-2, 5.43 ERA), NEV – Derek Achelpohl (4-3, 3.88 ERA)
G4 Sac. St. – Brandon Sandoval (5-4, 5.26 ERA), NEV – TBA

Louisiana Tech was scheduled to play Grambling State on Saturday, however, the game has been canceled due to a scheduling conflict on the part of Grambling State.