Saturday, May 4, 2013

Log jam at the top with Rams, Aztecs & Bulldogs

The race for the Mountain West title keeps getting closer.  In fact, it really couldn't be any closer than it is.  We're tied, with three teams all within a fraction of each other.

Colorado State beat San Diego State, Fresno State knocked off New Mexico, and Boise State edged UNLV to keep the race extremely tight.  At the top of the Mountain West standings, the Rams and the Aztecs are all knotted up at 8-5.  Fresno State then joined those two atop the conference, moving into a virtual first-place tie and trailing only by percentage points.

Colorado State 3, San Diego St. 0

Kacie McCarthy allowed four hits in a complete-game effort as Colorado State beat San Diego State in Fort Collins in game one of an important 3-game series.

The Aztecs, who had a 2-game lead over the rest of the Mountain West less than week ago, now find themselves tied with CSU for first place at 8-5 in conference play.  San Diego State suffered its second straight shutout loss after losing a 4-0 game to Fresno State and Jill Compton in its last outing.

The Aztecs had several chances to score in the game, but stranded eight, leaving the bases loaded in the third and stranding runners at second and third base in the fifth inning.  McCarthy retired the side in order only twice in the game.

The Rams took a 2-0 lead in the second when Danielle Wikre hit a 2-run home run off eventual losing pitcher Rebecca Arbino, who lost for a second game in a row.  Alysa Greckel singled to lead off the second before Wikre's homer.

CSU added an insurance run in the bottom of the fifth on Chelsea Biglow's 2-out RBI double.  It scored Ashlie Ortega, who singled with one out in the frame.  While McCarthy allowed four hits, she walked three, including Mountain West home run leader Patrice Jackson twice.

Arbino allowed six hits, struck out two and walked three.  Katie Mathis of San Diego State was the only player in the game with multiple hits.  Mathis had two.

Fresno State 2, New Mexico 1

With a chance to move into a virtual tie for first place in the Mountain West, Fresno State came through at home and knocked off the visiting Lobos.

The Bulldogs improved to 17-3 at home and won for the ninth time in their last 10 games on a record-setting night.

Fresno State stole four bases, with Brenna Moss and Kapri Angotti stealing two each.  Their double steal in the third inning may have been the play of the game as well.  Not only did it break the school's all-time stolen base mark in a single season at 77 (old mark of 75, set in 1980), but it moved both runners into scoring position.

Angotti had singled to lead off the inning, and Moss walked.  With one out, the pair stole second and third base and were in scoring position when Vonnie Martin stepped to the plate looking to extend the Mountain West's longest current hitting streak.  And she did.

Martin delivered what turned out to be the game-winning, 2-run single, scoring both Angotti and Moss.  The single pushed Martin's hitting streak to 12 games and gave Fresno State a 2-0 lead.

New Mexico scored its only run in the sixth when Naomi Tellez hit an RBI single to score Marian Rimmer, who singled with two outs in the frame.  It snapped a streak of 32 1/3 innings in which Fresno State freshman pitcher Hannah Harris had not allowed an earned run at home.  Harris scattered six hits to earn the victory.

Moss also broke the school's single-season individual stolen bases record Saturday with her 28th and 29th of the year.  Martin went 2-for-3 with both RBI to lead the way for the Bulldogs.  Fresno State again wasted numerous scoring chances, getting three hits in the fifth inning but leaving the bases loaded and failing to score.  The 'Dogs stranded runners in scoring position in four of the first five innings.

Coach Trisha Ford's squad can put serious pressure on Colorado State and San Diego State with a Sunday win, which would be Fresno State's 11th in conference play.  The Bulldogs (10-7) are currently two games ahead of both the Rams and Aztecs in the win column, but trail both by two games in the loss column.  UNM fell to 3-11 in MW play.

Lauren Soles allowed seven hits and both earned runs to get the loss for New Mexico, which lost for the 13th straight time to the Bulldogs.

Boise State 9, UNLV 7

In a wild deja vu type game, Boise State stormed to a big lead, lost it, and then rallied for a win over the Rebels in Las Vegas.

It was a carbon copy of Friday's game early as the Broncos roughed up UNLV freshman starting pitcher Francesca Foti in the first inning.  Just like a day earlier, Boise State pushed five runs across in the first, but this time Foti didn't make it out of the inning.

The freshman was replaced with junior Amanda Oliveto, who entered with only one out in the first inning and the Rebels already down 5-0.  Making matters worse, Boise State had the bases loaded and there was only one out.

Oliveto escaped that jam, and UNLV -- just like it did on Friday -- rallied with six unanswered runs to take the lead.  The problem for Boise State was on defense, where the Broncos committed three errors and allowed two passed balls.

The Rebels' 6-run uprising came on five unearned runs thanks to the Broncos' miscues.  UNLV took its first lead on Katie Uriarte's infield RBI single in the fourth.  It came following a Devon Bridges error.

The big hit for Boise State came in the sixth.  With two outs, freshman Makenna Weir capped her big 6-RBI day with a grand slam off Oliveto.  Weir's other hit was a 2-run double as she went 2-for-3 in the game.  Lela Work picked up her second win of the weekend.

Both teams finished with nine hits.  Tara Glover joined Weir with two hits for the Broncos.  UNLV had three players with two hits apiece -- Uriarte, Pauline Monreal and Tayler Van Acker.  Boise State moved to 7-7 in conference play, while UNLV was virtually eliminated from the Mountain West title picture by falling to 6-8.