WAC Tournament Preview: Round One

The 2010 WAC Tournament is being held in Mesa, Ariz. at Hohokam Field, better known as the spring training facility of the Chicago Cubs.  This marks the first season since the tournament was reinstated in 2006 that it is being held at a neutral site.  After another competitive conference season, Fresno State emerged as the regular season champion.  It’s their fourth regular season title in five years with a conference record of 16-8.  New Mexico State finished in a tie for second place with Nevada at 14-9-1 but earned the 2-seed in the tournament by virtue of the Aggies’ head-to-head record of 2-1-1 against the Wolf Pack.  Hawai’i earned the 4-seed with a strong finish as they won six of their final eight conference games to finish 12-12 in league play.  Louisiana Tech is the 5-seed having lost three of their final four conference games to finish 11-13 and San Jose State is the 6-seed having lost three of their final four conference games to finish 9-15 after winning the regular season last year with a 15-7 record.  Sacramento State finished in seventh place and ends their conference season with a record of 7-17 in league play and 18-35-1 overall.

Fresno State enters the tournament as the favorite as they have a 16-1 record in the conference tournament since 2006 and have won four consecutive WAC Tournament titles.  Both the Bulldogs and New Mexico State have a first round bye as the tournament format has changed this season.  The 3-seed and 6-seed will face each other in the first round while the 4-seed and 5-seed will face each other in the other game of the first round.  Fresno State will face the lowest remaining seed in the winner’s bracket while New Mexico State will face the highest remaining seed in the winner’s bracket, both of those games will take place on Thursday.

Game 1 – #4 Hawai’i (29-25, 12-12) vs. #5 Louisiana Tech (27-28, 11-13) – 4:00 p.m. PT
These two teams met in Ruston, LA during the regular season and split the four game series.  Hawai’i won the first game of the series 10-0 in a run-rule seven inning game.  Louisiana Tech rebounded to take game two of the series 9-5.  Hawai’i then took the third game of the series 14-13 but Louisiana Tech would take the final game 14-6.

Hawai’i starter Josh Slaats threw the no-hitter against the Bulldogs in the series and Jeffrey Van Doornum hit .529 against the Bulldog pitching with nine hits, eight runs scored, four home runs and six RBIs with a slugging percentage of 1.294.  Louisiana Tech’s Alex Williams had a strong series against the Warriors as he went 7-for-18 with three runs scored and four RBIs.

Hawai’i is hot and is playing at the level they expected to play at when they were picked to finish third in the preseason by the league’s coaches.  Louisiana Tech comes in having lost three of their final four but has an offense that can put up runs in a hurry as they average a league best 9.08 runs per game.  Hawai’i has the league second best ERA at 5.84 but more importantly for the Warriors, they have a pitcher who has already shown the ability to quiet the Tech bats.

Game 2 – #3 Nevada (34-20-1, 14-9-1) vs. #6 San Jose State (21-35, 9-15) – 7:30 p.m. PT
What a difference a year makes.  Last season the Spartans were riding high into the WAC Tournament as league champions.  This season they’re the final qualifier.  Nevada started off conference play at 3-4-1 but went 11-5 the rest of the way and won their final three conference series in relatively convincing fashion outscoring opponents 89-30 in their final nine conference wins.

The Wolf Pack took the regular season series 3-1 as San Jose State staved off the sweep by winning the final game of the series 6-4 in 12 innings.

Nevada comes into the tournament as arguably the league’s hottest team while San Jose State will try to match the effort they saw in their 6-4 victory over the Wolf Pack the last time these two teams met.  Nevada is hitting .333 in league play while San Jose State is sixth at just .292.  Nevada has belted 38 home runs in WAC play while San Jose State has just 13.  The catchers in this game will stay busy as the Wolf Pack have stolen 34 bases on 42 attempts and San Jose State has stolen 23 on 36 attempts.

All games will be streamed online via WAC.tv for a $17.95 fee which will include all games.

WAC Tournament Central
2010 WAC Tournament Bracket
Live Streaming Video at WAC.tv