WAC Weekend Preview (Apr. 16-19)

WAC-Logo After the first weekend of play two familiar names are atop the standings.  All three conference series will take place in the state of California as the three WAC outposts, Louisiana Tech, New Mexico State and Hawai’i all converge on the Golden State.  New Mexico State faces San Jose State, Fresno State hosts Louisiana Tech and Sacramento State hosts Hawai’i.  Nevada is the odd team out this week and travels to Seattle for a three game set with Seattle University.

 

STANDINGS
1. Fresno State (20-14, 3-1)
2. New Mexico State (24-11-1, 2-1-1)
3. Louisiana Tech (17-14, 2-2)
4. San Jose State (13-18, 2-2)
5. Nevada (17-13-1, 1-2-1)
6. Hawai’i (17-15, 1-3)
7. Sacramento State (11-17-1)

SERIES OF THE WEEKFresno State (20-14, 3-1) vs. Louisiana Tech (17-14, 2-2)

Pete Beiden Field, Fresno, CA

The Bulldogs are coming off an impressive 3-1 series victory over Hawai’i in Honolulu to open conference play.  Their 3-1 start is exactly what the team hoped for having been picked to win the league yet again.  Fresno State won the first three games of their series with the Warriors including a 1-0 no-hitter by Greg Gonzalez, Fresno State’s first no-hitter in 34 years.

The Bulldogs opened up conference play by splitting with visiting Sacramento State.  The Bulldogs’ two victories bookended a doubleheader day in which they lost both games.  La. Tech won the first game of the series 14-1 and the final game of the series 10-2.

Prediction: Louisiana Tech comes into the series with the second best batting average in the league at .357.  Fresno State will start the series tied with Hawai’i for the lowest batting average in the league at .264.  These two teams are second and third in the league in ERA with Fresno State’s staff coming in with a 4.09 ERA and Louisiana Tech with a 5.91 ERA.

The most interesting subplot of the weekend will be how Greg Gonzalez fares in his first start after throwing his no-hitter.

Fresno State has already played in some close games while all four of the Bulldogs’ games have been decided by six runs or more.  We think Fresno State will continue their solid start by taking three of four from the Bulldogs.

Game One: Fri., Apr 16, 6:00 p.m. PT
Game Two/Three: Sat., Apr 10, 2:00/5:00 p.m. PT
Game Four: Sun., Apr 11, 1:05 p.m. PT

Media
Series
: ESPN 97.7 FM Ruston, KMJ 580 AM Fresno

Probable Starters (G1 – G4)
Fresno State: TBD
Louisiana Tech: Jamey Bradshaw (3-0, 3.81 ERA), Trevor Petersen (4-3, 4.79 ERA), Josh Barrett (3-2, 4.42 ERA), TBD

San Jose State (13-18, 2-2) vs. New Mexico State (24-11-1, 2-1-1)
Blethen Field (G1, G2), Municipal Stadium (G3, G4), San Jose, CA

New Mexico State is coming into their weekend series with San Jose State off of just the second tie game under head coach Rocky Ward.  The Aggies trailed in the game 8-0 before rallying for a 10-10 tie and should feel fortunate to have come way with a tie.  San Jose State opened league play on the road and came away with a split against Louisiana Tech winning both games of the Saturday doubleheader.  In the losses against the Bulldogs, La. Tech was outscored 24-3, something that has to be a bit of a concern heading into a series against the nation’s leading run scoring offense.

Prediction: The Spartans are a bit down this season after winning more than 40 games last year.  SJSU’s team ERA of 9.00 is just slightly better than New Mexico State’s at 9.48, the big difference in this series will be the New Mexico State offense which scored 40 runs in the opening weekend while SJSU scored just 23 runs.  We think New Mexico State will be able to overpower the Spartans winning all four games.

Game One: Fri., Apr 16, 2:00 p.m. PT
Game Two: Sat., Apr 17, 1:00 p.m. PT
Game Three: Sun, Apr 18, 7:00 p.m. PT
Game Four: Mon, Apr 19, 6:00 p.m. PT

Media:
Series: KSNM AM 570 Las Cruces
G1 – G3: KSJS 90.5 FM San Jose, streaming at ksjs.org

Probable Starters:
SJSU: Luke Mazzanti (0-4, 8.25 ERA), Blake McFarland (4-1, 2.17 ERA), Sean Martin (1-2, 4.72 ERA)
NM State: Justin Cooper (2-0, 6.45 ERA), Thomas Brendel (2-2, 7.54 ERA), Dan Reid (4-1, 6.59 ERA), Tyler Mack (4-0, 6.75 ERA)

Sacramento State (11-17-1, 0-0) vs. Hawai’i (17-15, 1-3)
Hornet Field, Sacramento, CA

Sacramento State opens up league play by hosting the Warriors.  Hawai’i is coming off a 3-1 series defeat to Fresno State winning the final game of the series 4-0.  The last time Hawai’i visited Sacramento State they were swept in four by the Hornets.  Sacramento State enters league play with a 5.80 ERA while Hawai’i comes into the series with a 3.97 conference ERA to lead the league.

Prediction: Sacramento State will be eager to show that they are a better club than their seventh place preseason prediction while Hawai’i looks to shake off a rough start at home.  Overall these two teams have the two lowest batting averages in the league and they have scored the second and third fewest runs in the league as well.  With good pitching and less than great offenses, this could be a very low scoring series.  We think these two teams will split the series.

Game One: Fri., Apr 16, 2:00 p.m. PT
Game Two/Three: Sat., Apr 17, 11:30 a.m. PT
Game Four: Sun., Apr 18, 1:00 p.m. PT

Media:
Series: Streaming audio at www.hornetsports.com

Probable Starters:
Sac. St.: Robert Butler (1-0, 4.40 ERA), Jesse Darrah (2-2, 4.03 ERA), Brandon Creel (2-0, 2.00 ERA), TBD
Hawai’i: Josh Slaats (3-2, 1.77 ERA), Sam Spangler (2-4, 4.20 ERA), Matt Sisto (3-4, 6.94 ERA), TBD

Nevada (17-13, 1-2-1) at Seattle University (4-23)
The Wolf Pack head out of conference as the odd team out of conference play this weekend for a three game series.