Friday, March 27, 2015

FRIDAY: Spartans, Aztecs now tied atop the MW at 4-0

San Diego State and San Jose State ended the day tied for first atop the Mountain West as preseason favorite Fresno State fell from the ranks of the unbeaten.  The Aztecs picked up a road win at reeling Boise State, while the Spartans picked up a rare road victory in Fresno.

San Jose State 1, Fresno State 0 - In a pitcher's duel between Allison Lang and Jill Compton, it was Lang who came out on top against a Bulldogs team that looked shockingly flat and unfocused at home.  The first inning -- and, in fact, the first pitch of the game -- told the tale of this one.  Michelle Cox doubled down the line on Compton's first pitch of the night and it would lead to the game's only run.  With two outs and Cox at third, Sharon-Renae Estrada singled up the middle, just beyond the grasp of Compton, and that was it.  Ball game.  The Bulldogs had only one major scoring chance in this one, and it too came in the first inning when they blew a golden opportunity.  The Bulldogs loaded the bases with one out in the first when Malia Rivers singled and Lang walked a pair.  Lang escaped her only true jam of the night as Paige Gumz struck out and Alyssa Villalpando grounded out on a 3-1 pitch, leaving the bases loaded.  Compton struck out six and was rarely in trouble herself, but the Bulldogs looked lethargic on offense.  Rivers had two hits for the Bulldogs, but the rest of the team went an embarrassing 1-for-19.  And immediately after that one hit, Fresno State had its base runner picked off as SJSU used some heads up defense to tag Michelle Solomon, who'd wandered too far off first base. The Spartans weren't a whole lot better on offense, especially for a team that came in ranked in the nation's top 10 in batting average.  Aside from Cox and Taylor Purdy (who had two singles), SJSU was 1-for-18.  Much of it could be attributed to Compton and Lang, but the game severely lacked the fire, passion and excitement of two unbeaten conference rivals.  Even the fans may have been out of it.  Just 896 turned out, making it one of the smallest home crowds at Fresno State for a conference game in decades.  The league's top two hitters coming in -- the Bulldogs' Brenna Moss and the Spartans' Jessie Hufstetler -- both were hitless.  It was only the 12th win ever for San Jose State over Fresno State in a series long-dominated by the Bulldogs, who lead it now 83-12.

San Diego State 6, Boise State 4 - The Aztecs looked like they would win a huge blowout early, but things settled down after a San Diego State offensive flurry to start the game.  All six Aztecs runs were scored in the first 1 1/3 innings as SDSU's bats came out slugging early against Broncos freshman pitcher Rachel Rodriguez.  The first six San Diego State hitters all reached base safely to begin the game versus Rodriguez and SDSU was on the scoreboard mere moments after it started.  Kayla Jordan walked to lead off, and came home instantly as the game's second batter, Sydnee Cable, doubled.  Lorena Bauer followed with a home run before Rodriguez walked and hit the next two batters.  After Kayla Bufardeci's single made it 3-0, another walk and wild pitch were on the way.  Rodriguez managed to escape that jam as SDSU left the bases loaded.  A solo homer by Shaelee Pearson off eventual winning pitcher Erica Romero represented Boise State's first run in the bottom of the first.  In the second, the Aztecs got a 3-run homer from Peres and that was enough to chase Rodriguez from the game.  Her replacement -- Nicole Wilson -- was terrific the rest of the way, pitching 5 2/3 innings of scoreless relief.  But asking for five additional runs against Romero would be too much, though Boise State did make a game of it.  Single runs came in the second, third and fifth innings as the Broncos had nine hits against Romero.  Boise State left eight runners on base in the first five innings of the contest and Romero retired seven in a row to end the game.  San Diego State won its eighth straight Mountain West game dating back to last season, while Boise State's program-record losing streak has now reached 11.

UNLV 6, New Mexico 5 - In Las Vegas, last season's Mountain West Offensive Player of the Year, Garie Blando, revealed that she might not be ready to give up that title.  Blando hit a walk-off home run in the seventh to clinch the victory in a game where she played a huge role.  She finished with half of UNLV's six hits and scored four of the team's six runs.  New Mexico out-hit the Rebels 12 to six but could never quite get over the hump.  UNM left nine runners on base and left them loaded in the fifth when Mariah Rimmer flew out.  Rimmer had two hits and an RBI and was one of four Lobos with multi-hit games.  Jasmine Casados had three, while Brandi Heimburg and Michala Erickson had two each.  Reliever Krissy Fortner (4-3) took the loss, while UNLV freshman Janine Petmecky, who entered in relief of starter Morgan Ettinger, picked up her first collegiate win after five losses.  UNLV snapped a season-high 7-game losing streak with the victory while New Mexico lost its opening game of a conference series for the second weekend in a row.

Utah State 5, Nevada 0 - In Reno in front of 156 fans, Hailey Froton had two hits and two RBI as the Aggies shut out the Wolf Pack in a matchup of struggling teams.  Noelle Johnson (9-8), who has all but one of USU's 10 wins this season, had two hits on offense and tossed the complete-game shutout, limiting Nevada to five hits.  The Wolf Pack were playing in their league opener, while the Aggies were coming off a 3-game losing streak, including two to New Mexico in Logan last weekend.  The two teams were left with identical 10-20 records at the conclusion of Friday.