Sunday, April 28, 2013

Fresno State snaps Aztecs' 10-game home win streak

The race for the Mountain West softball title grew closer once again Sunday as every team that lost on Saturday rebounded for a win today.

Fresno State handed San Diego State its first conference loss at home in nearly a year, Colorado State held on for a win at Boise State, and UNLV scored late to win a key series at Nevada.

Fresno State 4, San Diego State 0

For the second consecutive weekend, Fresno State freshman pitcher Jill Compton fired a shutout on the road against a team occupying first place in the Mountain West.

After doing it last week in a 5-0 win at Colorado State, Compton picked up her sixth shutout win of the season today as the Bulldogs became the first Mountain West team to shut the Aztecs out at home in more than two years.

Fresno State's win snapped a 10-game winning streak at home for SDSU, which had also won 14 straight games this season in the San Diego metropolitan area (including one at USD and three more at the Santee Complex).  The Aztecs hadn't been shut out at home in conference play since April 15, 2011, when BYU won 1-0.

Compton retired the final seven batters in a row and needed just 18 pitches over the final 2 1/3 innings to record those outs.  She allowed five hits and was aided by a Bulldog offense that got going midway through the game against SDSU starter and losing pitcher Rebecca Arbino.

Fresno State loaded the bases on three straight 1-out hits in the fifth inning as Stesha Brazil, Paige Gumz and Whitney Smith each singled.  Kapri Angotti then gave the Bulldogs a 1-0 lead with an RBI single.  The lead stretched an inning later when Fresno State's first three batters of the sixth all came up with hits.

Diane Runge and Vonnie Martin singled, and Michelle Solomon followed with an RBI double down the right field line.  A fielder's choice and a throwing error later allowed Martin to score, and Gumz recorded an RBI on a groundout for the final run.

Seven of the nine Bulldog batters had hits in the game, with Martin and Solomon getting two each.  Martin hit .545 in the series for the Bulldogs.  Fresno State remained alive in the chase for the Mountain West title, but will need some help from other teams, and also will need a sweep of last-place New Mexico in Fresno next weekend.

San Diego State, meanwhile, saw its lead dwindle to just one game over Colorado State, which it faces next week in Fort Collins in a must-win series for both teams.  Fresno State is 1 1/2 back, along with Nevada, but three back in the all-important loss column.

Colorado State 5, Boise State 4

The Rams salvaged a win in the finale of the 3-game series at Boise State, but not without a wild bottom of the seventh where the Broncos almost came back again.

Boise State has been known for late comebacks at home with three walk-off wins in the past 10 days.  It almost happened again as Colorado State built a 5-0 lead and then watched the Broncos rally with a run in the sixth and three more in the seventh to make it close.

CSU's early runs came in support of starter and winning pitcher Kacie McCarthy, who allowed just three hits in 6 1/3 innings, but appeared to run out of gas in a wild seventh.

After hitting a batter, giving up a hit to Tara Glover, and walking three in the top of the seventh, McCarthy was done for the day after being very strong early.  McCarthy gave way to sophomore pitcher Molly Randle in a tough spot, but Randle delivered with a save.

Entering the game with an 0-8 career record and having thrown just 13 2/3 innings all season, Randle was asked to protect a 5-3 lead.  To make matters worse, she entered with the bases loaded, only one out, and the ever-dangerous Devon Bridges coming to bat.

Just an inning earlier, Bridges had broken the Boise State career record for home runs, with her 38th.  But Randle got Bridges to pop up to shallow center for the second out of the inning.  After walking in a run, Randle induced Ashley Palmer to hit into a force play at third, ending the game.  It was the first collegiate save for Randle.

Colorado State's 5-run lead was built thanks to some timely hitting and with the aid of some sloppy Broncos play.  In the three innings where the Rams scored, Boise State had a passed ball, an error, and a wild pitch just prior to Colorado State runs crossing the plate.  Ashlie Ortega and Shae Rodriguez had two hits each to lead the Rams, as Ortega tripled and Rodriguez doubled.

UNLV 5, Nevada 3

The Rebels came from behind to win this Governor's Series game in Reno and take the 3-game series two to one.

The defeat was a bitter one for Nevada, which could have pulled within a half-game of first place San Diego State with a victory.  It also stung a bit more since it came against the Wolf Pack's in-state rival on Senior Day at Christina M. Hixson Park.

Katie Uriarte was the star of the day for UNLV with a monster performance.  The senior designated player had four hits, including the eventual game-winner -- a 2-run triple in the top of the seventh inning that was the difference.

Uriarte also had a double and finished just a home run away from the cycle as the Rebels pounded out 15 hits.  Stefany Valentino and Emily Haslinger also had big days as both finished with three hits apiece.  Valentino hit a solo home run and Haslinger added a stolen base.

Neither starting pitcher -- Megan Dortch for Nevada and Francesca Foti for UNLV -- figured in the decision.  Foti went 5 2/3 innings and allowed eight hits, while Dortch went four innings and gave up nine.  Karlyn Jones allowed six hits and three earned runs in relief to pick up the loss.  Amanda Oliveto, who tossed the final 1 1/3 for Nevada, got the win.

Ashley Butera was the hitting star for Nevada, going 3-for-3 with three RBI and a home run.  The Wolf Pack are tied with Fresno State at 8-7 in conference play, a game and a half behind San Diego State but three games back in the loss column.

UNLV remained in the title hunt by moving its record to 6-6 in Mountain West play.  The Rebels, despite being in fifth place in the conference at the moment, actually have more control over their destiny than some teams above them.  UNLV closes the season with three games against San Diego State; but in order to make those meaningful, the Rebels must win their series next week at home against Boise State.