Saturday, April 6, 2013

Aztecs tie school record with 13th straight win


San Diego State continued to pull away from the pack in the Mountain West, this time literally pulling away from the Pack.

The Nevada Wolf Pack were no match for the Aztecs in Reno Saturday as SDSU moved to a 5-0 record in conference play.  San Diego State and Colorado State (3-0) are the only teams in the Mountain West with a winning record after five games.

Fresno State continued a season-long pattern of stranding base runners in a surprising 8-2 loss at UNLV in a game where Amanda Oliveto did not pitch.  Francesca Foti (2-7) picked up the victory for the Rebels, who won for only the second time all year in a game where Oliveto didn't play.

Colorado State was upended late in a loss at Texas A&M, and Boise State met New Mexico later in the evening.

San Diego State 8, Nevada 1

The Aztecs matched a school record with their 13th consecutive win, pounding the Wolf Pack in Reno.  Freshman Danielle O'Toole picked up her 10th win of the season and sent Nevada ace Karlyn Jones to a surprising fourth consecutive loss.

Nevada, which has struggled mightily on the offensive end of late, managed only four hits in the contest.  The lone Wolf Pack run came on a solo homer by Megan Fincher, her team-leading ninth blast of the season.

San Diego State got on the scoreboard first in the top of the second inning on a solo home run by Lorena Bauer, also her ninth of the season.  On a day when three players in the game hit their ninth homers of the season, Patrice Jackson later joined the group in that category.  Kristin May also went deep on the afternoon for her first home run of the season as she finished with two RBI.

The Aztecs scored in three of the game's final four innings to win going away.   Bauer finished with three hits to lead San Diego State, and May, Jackson and Kayla Jordan all had two hits apiece.  The Aztecs haven't lost since a March 10 game in Fresno to Oregon State.

During its 13-game winning streak, San Diego State has outscored opponents an impressive 81 to 21.  A 3-game sweep of Nevada on Sunday would give the Aztecs 14 consecutive wins for the first time in school history.

The Wolf Pack, along with virtually every other team in the conference, will be trying to stop SDSU from running away with the Mountain West regular-season championship and the NCAA Tournament's automatic bid that goes along with it.  Nevada already finds itself four games out of first place with just 13 games to play, and on the wrong end of the tiebreaker scenario if it should come to that.

San Diego State moved to 25-12 overall, while the Wolf Pack are 22-18.

UNLV 8, Fresno State 2

Freshman pitcher Francesca Foti, who entered the day 1-7 overall and with a 6.14 ERA, struggled all game long, but it wouldn't matter as Fresno State couldn't come up with a clutch hit.  The Bulldogs out-hit UNLV 13 to 11, but Foti managed to earn her second complete-game win as a collegian by getting out of jam after jam.  Fresno State, which has almost turned lack of clutch hitting into an art form this season, had base runners in all seven innings and routinely shot itself in the foot.

The Bulldogs stranded 11 in the game, had runners in scoring position in six different innings, hit into three double plays and lost to UNLV for a fourth straight time.  In the 60-game series history dominated by Fresno State, the Rebels had never won three in a row, let alone four.

How bad did things get for the Bulldogs?  In the just second and third innings combined, Fresno State had seven hits, including a home run, and scored just once -- on the home run, which happened to be an inside the park shot by speedy Diane Runge.  The Bulldogs had three hits in the second inning and four more hits in the third, yet left the bases loaded both times.

Senior Mackenzie Mendonca, who had no career hits in two seasons with the Bulldogs, got the starting nod at designated player by first-year Bulldog coach Trisha Ford.  Mendonca came to bat three times with runners in scoring position, including once with the bases loaded, and went 0-for-3.  She was the only Bulldog to go hitless in the game, and Fresno State again played without leadoff hitter Brenna Moss, the conference triples and stolen bases leader.

Meanwhile, Fresno State freshman pitcher Jill Compton struggled from the outset.  UNLV freshman Emily Haslinger gave the Rebels the only runs they would need in the bottom of the first inning with a bases-loaded, 2-out triple that made it 3-0.  Haslinger, who had six RBI all season entering play Saturday, got three more in that one swing of the bat.

Emilie Valdez had three of UNLV's 11 hits in the game and Tayler Aleman hit a home run.  Maria Sio had three hits to lead the Bulldogs.  The Rebels, who gave up 33 runs in their last two Mountain West games prior to this series, have now allowed only three in this series versus Fresno State.  UNLV, which didn't post a conference series sweep last year, will go for the 3-game sweep of the struggling Bulldogs Sunday.

Texas A&M 3, Colorado State 1

In the lone non-conference game involving a Mountain West softball team Saturday, Colorado State came close against the nationally-ranked Aggies, but fell in a tough one in College Station.

Kacie McCarthy had only allowed two hits through six innings, and the Rams and A&M were tied 1-1 entering the bottom of the seventh.

With one out, the Aggies got an infield single for just their third hit of the contest.  Second baseman Jenna Stark then stepped up and crushed a walk-off, 2-run home run to left that ended it.  Colorado State had five hits in the game to A&M's four, but it wasn't to be.

After falling behind early, Cassy Mosser's 2-out double in the third inning scored Ashlie Ortega, who singled.  It would be CSU's only run of the day.  Danielle Wikre had a double in the sixth, and the Rams got a pair of hits in the seventh, but left the potential go-ahead run in scoring position in each of the final two innings.

Colorado State's performance was a vast improvement over Friday's game when A&M rolled to a 10-0 win in five innings. The teams will close out their 3-game series Sunday.  The Rams (17-16) will look to avoid falling back to .500 on the season, while A&M (30-7) goes for the sweep and its 31st win.