Friday, April 10, 2015

Fresno State, San Diego St. in first-place tie after Friday drama

The busiest part of the 2015 season continued Friday with four series openers in Mountain West play, capping a stretch where most teams play nine games in 11 days.  And Friday's action featured some of the most exciting games this season with all four coming down to the seventh inning.  When play concluded, Fresno State and San Diego State stood atop the conference standings, tied for first place with 10-3 records.  Tied in the loss column is San Jose State, a game and a half back of the Aztecs and Bulldogs at 7-3.

San Jose St. 10, San Diego St. 9 - In San Diego, the defending Mountain West champions lost at home for the third time in their last four home contests in a thriller.  Both teams showed off some offensive firepower, both committed costly errors on defense, and each team surprisingly ran into pitching problems.  With their respective aces -- SJSU's Allison Lang and SDSU's Erica Romero -- starting the game, it was believed that runs would be hard to come by.  That wasn't the case.  Neither starting pitcher was able to work long into the game as Lang was pulled in the fourth inning and Romero lasted just 4 1/3.  Both teams used three pitchers apiece, and Lang was forced to come back in with two outs in the seventh to pick up the save in a wild game where SJSU almost lost a late 5-run lead.  Jessica Madrid went 4-for-5 and had three doubles in her first three at-bats against Romero, who threw 114 pitches in just 4 1/3 innings.  The Spartans' 16 hits were the most given up by San Diego State in a game this season.  The normally strong SDSU pitching staff has now allowed double-digit hit totals in six of its past eight Mountain West games.  Katelyn Linford (5-3) came on in relief of Lang to earn the win, but was later pulled for Madison Fish, who had trouble keeping the ball in the yard late.  The Aztecs hit two seventh inning home runs -- from Kayla Jordan and Jenavee Peres -- to cut the margin to a run before Lang re-entered to record the final out.  The big innings for the Spartans were the fifth and sixth.  In the fifth, SJSU had six consecutive hits against Romero (who took the loss, allowing 12 hits in 4 1/3) and her replacement, Sydnee Cable.  Five straight SJSU batters reached base safely in the sixth when the Aztecs had two of their four errors.  A Taylor Purdy error for SJSU with two outs in the second proved very costly and directly led to three unearned runs when Lang was about to escape the inning unscathed.  Purdy would atone for the mistake later with a pair of hits. She, Michelle Cox, Emma Entzminger and Nicole Schultz all had two hits while Madrid led the way with her four.  SDSU got a 3-hit night from Hayley Miles and a three RBI performance from Peres.  The Aztecs fell into a tie for first place with Fresno State, though the Bulldogs hold the tiebreak if those teams should finish the season tied.  San Jose State pulled within a game and a half of the league lead, but tied in the loss column.

Fresno State 5, Utah State 2 - On the road in Logan, sophomore Kierra Willis blasted a clutch, 2-run home run with two outs in the seventh inning to snap a 2-all tie and send the Bulldogs to their fifth consecutive victory.  Willis, who hit a run-scoring double in the first inning, finished with three RBI.  Fresno State went on top early in the first inning as Michelle Solomon's 40th RBI of the year drove in Brenna Moss, who walked.  Willis followed with her RBI double to make it 2-0, and the Bulldogs left the bases loaded after sending eight to the plate right off the bat.  From there, it was pitchers Jill Compton and Noelle Johnson putting up zeroes across the board as neither team could do much.  USU would tie it in the fourth, though, as Compton walked a batter, and Alleyah Armendariz followed with a 2-run home run, her 8th round-tripper of the year.  It remained a 2-2 game until the seventh.  Moss led off the final inning with a single to left, and a line out and ground out followed.  Down to the Bulldogs' final out before heading to the bottom of the seventh inning tied, Willis slugged her team-leading seventh home run to left-center for a 4-2 lead.  Willis' 18th extra-base hit of the season was the first of four straight hits for Fresno State with two outs in the seventh. Paige Gumz and Alyssa Villalpando followed with singles, and Bria Kennedy made it a 5-2 game with her fifth double of the year.  Compton retired the side in order in the bottom of the seventh to move her record to 18-9 overall and 7-2 in conference play.  Johnson went the distance for the Aggies and scattered 10 hits to see her record fall to 13-11.  Fresno State, which got two hits each from Willis, Solomon and Gumz, left the bases loaded twice and stranded 10 base runners.  The win was the 23rd straight by the Bulldogs over the Aggies in a series long dominated by Fresno State, which moved into a first place tie in the Mountain West with the win.  Utah State, which got two of its six hits from Armendariz, saw its 3-game winning streak come to an end.

Boise State 5, Nevada 4 - The Broncos' long nightmare of a losing streak came to an end thanks to some seventh inning heroics from Izzy Serrano.  The sophomore designated player hit a 2-out, walk-off double with the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh to give Boise State only its second win since February.  The Broncos had lost a school-record 16 straight games and 19 of their last 20.  The win prevented Boise State from tying the program record for most losses in a season at 32.  Struggling Nevada lost its fourth straight and dropped to 2-8 in conference play, just a game ahead of the last-place Broncos.  The Wolf Pack got a pair of home runs from Megan Sweet, including one in the top of the seventh that gave them a 4-3 lead.  BSU freshman pitcher Rachel Rodriguez, the third Broncos pitcher of the game, picked up the win in only 2/3 of an inning pitched.  Nevada freshman Chase Redington took the loss in relief, walking a pair in the seventh before Serrano's game-winner. The Pack out-hit Boise State 10 to seven and Sweet's three hits led both teams.

Colorado State 2, New Mexico 0 - In Albuquerque, the theme of the day -- late-game heroics -- continued as the Rams snapped a 4-game losing streak and sent New Mexico to a fifth consecutive loss.  In a pitcher's duel between Carrie Sheehan of the Lobos and Holly Reinke of the Rams, it was Sheehan who blinked first.  She took a 2-hitter into the top of the seventh but allowed three hits in the final frame, including the game-winning home run from Jaelyn Manzanares with two outs.  In that final inning, Colorado State freshman Savannah Clark led off with a single, but that hit was later erased on a failed stolen base attempt.  With two outs, Danielle Wikre kept CSU alive with a single, and Manzanares followed with a 2-run homer to right.  It was her fifth home run of the season.  Reinke (10-13) allowed four hits and retired the final five batters she faced.  Sheehan fell to 6-4 on the year for New Mexico, which stranded six and was unable to take advantage of two CSU errors.