The 2012 Western Athletic Conference baseball tournament gets underway today at Hohokam Park in Mesa, Ariz. The regular season saw a three-way tie for first place between New Mexico State, Sacramento State and Nevada at 11-7. The Aggies earned the top seed due to the league’s tiebreaker rules (head-to-head record against the tied teams) while Sacramento State earned the number two seed by virtue of their head-to-head series victory over Nevada. This was important because the league awards first-round byes to the top two teams meaning Nevada, despite winning a share of the regular season title, was relegated to the three seed and must play on the tournament’s opening day.
The four seed went to Hawai’i who finished the regular season at 10-8. Preseason favorite Fresno State struggled out of the gate starting conference play at 2-7 but rallied in the second half of the conference schedule to finish 9-9 and in fifth place. Rounding out the tournament field is Louisiana Tech who also struggled out of the gate starting 1-8 in league play but like their Bulldog brethren from California, posted a strong second half and finished 7-11.
The four lower seeds will play today with 4-seed Hawai’i facing 5-seed Fresno State at 3:00 p.m. (PDT) while 3-seed Nevada takes on 6-seed Louisiana Tech at 7:00 p.m. (PDT).
1. New Mexico State (35-20, 11-7)
2. Sacramento State (29-26, 11-7)
3. Nevada (31-23, 11-7)
4. Hawai’i (30-23, 10-8)
5. Fresno State (25-25, 8-10)
6. Louisiana Tech (24-26, 7-11)
#4 Hawai’i (30-23, 10-8) vs. #5 Fresno St. (25-25, 8-10)
Season Series: Hawai’i took two of three from Fresno State in Honolulu during conference play winning game one 8-2, losing game two 5-3 and winning game three 3-2 in 10 innings.
Both teams come into the tournament with potential major injury news. Fresno State starter Tyler Linehan left his last start after throwing just four pitches and is not expected to play in the tournament. Likewise, Hawai’i closer Brent Harrison was scheduled to have an MRI this past Monday and his status for the tournament is in doubt.
Projected Winner: Fresno State
#3 Nevada (31-23, 11-7) vs. #6 Louisiana Tech (24-26, 7-11)
Season Series: Nevada swept Louisiana Tech in Reno winning 3-2, 7-4 and 4-3.
Nevada’s ace starting pitching Bradey Shipley (8-4, 2.12 ERA) was named WAC Pitcher of the Year but the Wolf Pack could potentially save his start for Thursday as they feature a solid one-two punch with Shipley and fellow starting pitcher Tom Jameson (7-2, 2.19 ERA).
Projected Winner: Nevada
New Mexico State and Sacramento State will play their first games on Thursday with Sacramento State facing the highest remaining seed in the winner’s bracket and New Mexico State facing the lowest remaining seed in the winner’s bracket.
The losers of the two games today will face each other at 11:00 a.m. (PDT) on Thursday with the loser being eliminated from the tournament. Sacramento State will play at 3:00 p.m. (PDT) and New Mexico State will play at 7:00 p.m. (PDT).