Sunday, May 4, 2014

Broncos and Bulldogs tied for first with one series left

The race for the Mountain West softball title got a little bit closer on Sunday after a pair of wild 1-run games.  Boise State moved into a tie for first with Fresno State after the Broncos won in dramatic fashion for a second day in a row, and the Bulldogs nearly pulled off a late miracle.

Elsewhere, San Diego State eliminated San Jose State from contention, and Nevada completed a 3-game sweep of struggling Utah State.

Colorado State 8, Fresno State 7 - The Bulldogs lost at home on Senior Day for the fifth time in six seasons in a game that started and ended wildly.  Chelsea O'Connor hit a home run to put the Rams up 2-0 with only one out recorded in the game.  In the top of the second, it was already 4-0 before the Bulldogs rallied for four straight runs to tie it.  Fresno State scored three in the bottom of the second with the help of two Rams miscues on a day when both defenses were sloppy.  Colorado State took the lead for good in the fifth by adding a run on a Kendal Butterfield RBI single.  Bulldogs second baseman Whitney Smith committed a pair of errors in the sixth inning that led to three CSU runs.  Alyssa Greckel's 2-out, 2-run triple put the Rams up 8-4.  In the bottom of the seventh, Fresno State nearly rallied from four runs down to win it.  Brooke Ortiz started the rally off with a single, and winning pitcher Holly Reinke walked a pair, including one with the bases loaded to force in a run.  A groundout scored another to trim the deficit to 8-6, and Paige Gumz' RBI single made it an 8-7 game with two outs in the seventh.  Senior Kapri Angotti, in the final at-bat for Fresno State at home this season, was retired on a groundout with the potential tying and winning runs on base.  While the Bulldogs have won 45 of their past 53 home conference games spanning several seasons, more than half of those losses (5 of 8) have come on Senior Day.  Fresno State has lost on Senior Day five of the past six seasons (2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2014).  CSU stayed alive in the race for a conference title on a day when the Bulldogs could have eliminated the Rams.

Boise State 5, New Mexico 4 - For the second day in a row, the Broncos won on a walk-off home run.  With two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning, Mackenzie Whyte hit a homer to send the Broncos into a first-place tie with Fresno State.  Even more importantly, Boise State holds the tiebreaker over the Bulldogs after being the only Mountain West team to win a season series against coach Trisha Ford's squad.  The Broncos, however, face a mighty task next weekend when they face a road series at San Diego State.  The Aztecs have not lost a conference series at home this season and haven't been swept in a league series in San Diego in nine years.  Boise State trailed 1-0 until the fourth when it scored four runs -- all with two outs.  New Mexico responded with a 3-run top of the fifth to tie it, but ended up losing all three games in the series.  UNM's season came to a close as the Lobos finished 7-17 in Mountain West play and 16-36 overall.  Both teams had only five hits in the game, with Rebecca Patton getting the complete-game win and Lauren Soles the tough loss.  Soles had allowed just one hit in three innings of relief before Whyte's home run.

San Diego State 5, San Jose State 3 - Patrice Jackson homered to begin the top of the fourth inning, and Dominique Dinner added the first home run of her career -- a 3-run shot -- in the same inning as the Aztecs rallied to win the series in San Jose.  The Spartans out-hit San Diego State 12 to eight and had no errors compared with the Aztecs' two, but still suffered the loss and were eliminated from the Mountain West championship race.  Madison Fish came in to replace SJSU starter Katelyn Linford in the fourth after Linford had given up the homer to Jackson and walked a pair with one out.  Dinner, the only batter Fish would face, promptly hit the 3-run home run that gave San Diego State the lead for good.  SJSU had several opportunities but stranded nine base runners against the pitching duo of Erica Romero and Danielle O'Toole.

Nevada 3, Utah State 0 - Wolf Pack senior pitcher Karlyn Jones recorded a career-best 11 strikeouts to complete a 3-game sweep of the Aggies in Logan. Jones didn't walk a batter and almost had to be perfect in a game with very little offense.  Both teams had just four hits, and the Aggies went with a first-time makeshift lineup that featured all six seniors -- including some who rarely have played this season -- starting the game.  Megan Sweet had a 2-run home run for Nevada in the fifth and finished with two hits and all three RBI.