The Mountain West softball standings remained jumbled after three Friday games, but San Diego State separated itself a bit from the pack in the day's final contest.
In what turned out to be a matchup with first place on the line, the Aztecs used the bat of Patrice Jackson to beat Fresno State 5-3 to move a full game ahead of Colorado State in the Mountain West standings. After CSU fell at Boise State earlier in the day on another Broncos comeback win, the Bulldogs and Aztecs knew the winner of their night game would sit alone atop the conference.
It turned out to be the Aztecs, who got a huge game out of Jackson en route to just the 10th win all-time for SDSU over the Bulldogs in 64 games. A Fresno State victory would have pushed the Bulldogs two games above San Diego State in the win column and a half-game in front of everyone in the conference. Instead, the Bulldogs now find themselves three games behind the Aztecs in the loss column and in a must-win situation the rest of the way.
Colorado State fell out of a first-place tie with the Aztecs in a heartbreaking road loss where Kacie McCarthy took a no-hitter into the seventh inning against Boise State. The Broncos continued to do what they do best -- win late. It was the third win in their final at-bat at home in the past week. Boise State's victory sets up a big final two days of this series as neither the Broncos or Rams can afford to fall deeper in the conference standings.
Nevada, which entered the day tied for third place and just a half-game out of first, suffered a 13-2 loss at home to rival UNLV. The Rebels, meanwhile, evened their conference record at 5-5 and remained in the hunt for the Mountain West title. UNLV can pull ahead of Nevada in the MW standings with a win over the Pack Saturday.
San Diego State 5, Fresno State 3
Tiffany Corder singled with one out in the bottom of the first inning before Patrice Jackson launched a homer to left that gave the Aztecs a very quick 2-0 lead. It also proved to be a preview of things to come because Jackson wasn't nearly done for the night.
In the end, San Diego State's team didn't beat the Bulldogs as much as Jackson did it herself.
Jackson proved to be a one-woman wrecking crew all night long. Her 2-out RBI double in the third, following a hit batter, extended the Aztecs' lead to 3-0. And two innings later, she was at it again.
This time, the junior outfielder homered to straightaway center field, giving her a Mountain West-best 15 home runs on the season and two for the day. It was also the 21st home run allowed by Fresno State freshman pitcher Jill Compton this season.
The Bulldogs out-hit the Aztecs in the game nine to five, but could never stop Jackson, who accounted for virtually all of San Diego State's offense. She finished 3-for-3 with all five RBI and three of the Aztecs' four extra-base hits (two home runs and a double). Jackson hit the game-winning home run last weekend in SDSU's lone win in a series at Boise State.
Fresno State's Vonnie Martin went 3-for-4 and reached base in all four plate appearances, including once on an error. The Bulldogs scored on a 2-run homer to left in the sixth inning by sophomore Michelle Solomon, and then added a late rally in the seventh to make it interesting.
Trailing 5-2 with two outs in the seventh, sophomore Brenna Moss hit the first home run of her career to make it a 5-3 game. After Diane Runge reached on an error, Martin singled for the third time in the game, bringing to bat Solomon, who had just homered an inning earlier.
Representing the potential go-ahead run this time, Solomon struck out against Arbino, who recorded eight Ks in the game. Fresno State hurt itself again with seven stranded base runners in the game. Perhaps no inning better illustrated the Bulldogs' woes this season than the second. Stesha Brazil tripled to lead off the frame, but remained at third base following a strikeout, lineout and a 2-out groundout on a bunt attempt.
While San Diego State (7-3, 29-16) moved a game in front of Colorado State in the regular-season conference race, Fresno State picked up its 21st loss of the season against 26 wins. With seven games remaining, the Bulldogs are three losses from tying the school record for most defeats in a season (24, set in 1993). That same year, Fresno State set a school record for worst record ever in conference play (14-10, .583 winning percentage). Tonight, the Bulldogs fell to 7-6 in the Mountain West (.538).
San Diego State is now 14-4 at home this year, including 4-0 in conference play. Fresno State is 11-18 away from home, including 2-5 in Mountain West road games.
Boise State 3, Colorado State 2 (9 innings)
The Broncos won a thrilling pitcher's duel on a Rams error in the bottom of the ninth inning, giving them three walk-off wins in less than a week.
Tied 2-2 in the ninth, Rose Saenz led off the bottom of the frame with a single against CSU senior Kacie McCarthy, who pitched a strong game but took the loss. A walk to Brittany McCray followed the hit by Saenz and the Broncos had two runners aboard.
On Jordan Kreiger's sacrifice attempt, a throwing error by Colorado State first baseman Alysa Greckel allowed Saenz to race home with the winning run. It sealed a tough loss for McCarthy, who took a no-hitter into the seventh inning and was one out away from a win in the eighth.
After a scoreless first seven innings, CSU took a 2-0 lead in the eighth with a pair of 2-out runs. Chelsea Biglow gave the Rams a 1-0 lead on an RBI single, and McCray's passed ball allowed a second run to come home. But Boise State responded in the bottom of the eighth with another late rally.
Tara Glover singled and Holly Bourke followed with a double to begin the eighth inning for the Broncos. After McCarthy got Devon Bridges to foul out, a groundout by Mackenzie Whyte scored Glover to make it a 2-1 game. With two outs, Ashley Palmer tied it with an infield single that tipped off McCarthy's glove.
Colorado State finished with seven hits to five for Boise State. Broncos starter Rebecca Patton struck out 10 and kept CSU off the board for the first seven innings. She gave up two runs (one earned) in the eighth before being replaced by eventual winning pitcher Kenzie Cole, who retired the Rams in order in the ninth.
Kendal Butterfield of Colorado State was the only player in the contest with multiple hits. She had two.
UNLV 13, Nevada 2
In a Governor's Series game played in Reno, this one was all Rebels as UNLV pounded its rival to the north.
Amanda Oliveto grabbed the victory, throwing a complete-game 5-hitter. She was backed by an explosive offense that pounded out 16 hits and scored a season-high 13 runs. The 13 runs also tied for the most the Wolf Pack had given up in a game this season.
UNLV got all the offense it would need in the top of the first when it scored three runs. By the time the game reached the fifth inning, the Rebels were up 8-0. Nevada was able to stave off a run-rule defeat by scoring twice in the bottom of the fifth, but UNLV scored five in the top of the seventh to win going away.
All nine Rebels in the batting order had hits, eight of the nine scored at least a run, and seven different players had RBI in an all-around effort. Emily Haslinger and Tayler Aleman each hit home runs, and Haslinger added a double while Aleman scored a game-high three times.
Pauline Monreal hit a pair of doubles and finished with four RBI, while Stefany Valentino and Jamie DePippo both had a pair of hits. The Rebels had eight hits apeice off Nevada starter Megan Dortch (who went four innings) and reliever Ariel Craig (who tossed the final three frames).